Howard Hunt kit to go under the hammer

Numerous assets belonging to recently closed Howard Hunt (City) are going under the hammer at auction, with others being sold by private treaty.

Hilco Industrial is offering online bidding for a variety of print, finishing and related equipment on behalf of BDO, which was confirmed as the administrator of the Kent-headquartered direct mail operation last month, and “at least one major financial institution”, according to Hilco Valuation Services Europe director Spencer Chapman.

Equipment up for auction incudes two MBO/Ehret/Kodak web-fed digital print and finishing lines, a Kodak Prosper-based inkjet line, and direct mail kit from Buhrs, CMC, Buskro and Mathias Bauerle.

Further assets advertised include various finishing kit from Polar, Heidelberg and MBO, Palamides stacker/bundlers, four Epson contract proofers, a mobile UV drying system and short-run inserting and mailing equipment.

Warehouse and engineering equipment, office furniture, IT equipment and motor vehicles are also up for sale.

“It was a full-on production environment; the site looks very good and the machines are in a condition commensurate with their age and usage. If buyers get professional people to remove and reinstall, they should get their equipment up and running very quickly,” said Chapman.

“There has been a tremendous amount of interest from across the UK, Ireland and the US. So far we’ve really been soft marketing, with people giving us a call, but now we’re going through a thorough marketing exercise and we’re hopeful of a lot more interest, but it’s been very busy here indeed with potential purchasers.”

He added: “The online auction will start to close at 10am on 19 June, with viewing at site by appointment on 18 June.”

Kit up for sale via private treaty includes Mitsubishi D-16 and L-A71-1000 16pp six-colour litho web presses, Scheffer web finishing equipment and a Screen Platerite HD8900E platesetter. Chillers and air compressors are also available. Offers on these assets are being accepted until 12pm tomorrow (11 June).

“This equipment is highly specialised with more of an international flavour to it – it possibly could stay in the UK but there’s also a lot of interest from France and the US. We want to bottom that [sale] out fairly quickly because these machines take a long time to remove from site,” said Chapman.

“There has been interest across the board – from direct mail businesses as well as digital people that want another channel for marketing. Howard Hunt were a very well-established company that had been trading for over 20 years and were well thought of.”

Martha Thompson and Francis Newton, of BDO’s London and Leeds offices respectively, were appointed joint administrators of Howard Hunt (City) on 22 May, with the firm’s 250 staff laid off as the company was placed into administration and ceased trading upon their appointment.

On the same day Paragon bought Celerity Information Services, ORM and Graft Services as well as the order book and customer base of Howard Hunt (City).

According to sources close to the situation, there was not sufficient cash in the business, which had been battling a credit crunch with lender Santander prior to its collapse, for the administrators to continue to trade the £53m-turnover direct mail specialist.


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