Kairos staff left in limbo after collapse

Rhys Handley
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Staff at Kairos Printworks, who were made redundant earlier this year following the sale of the business’s assets prior to its collapse, look set to finally get their unpaid wages and redundancy after taking their plight to Acas.

Kairos Printworks consisted of two limited companies, K2 Print and K3 Print, and sole trader David Dowrick t/a Kairos Printworks. Andrew Watling and Chris Newell of Quantuma were appointed administrators of K2 Print and K3 Print on 22 January.

As well as being the sole trader, David Dowrick was the director of both limited companies, with all three trading collectively as Kairos Printworks from a site in Poole, Dorset.

According to documents filed by the administrators, during 2017 Dowrick “took a considerable amount off work due to serious ill health” and on his return the company was losing money and was under “increased creditor pressure”.

As a result he sold the shares and the business and assets of K2 and K3 on 2 January to Kairos Print Services (KPS) – a new business set up by Diarmuid Foghlu, who also owns Portsmouth-based business PPG Print via his holding company Amalgamated Holdings.

While Quantuma declined to comment, according to its Statement of Joint Administrators’ Proposals, no consideration had been paid prior to their appointment.

The report stated that Kairos Printworks’ factoring company Metro Bank had concerns over the transaction and its impact on the book debt ledger, and subsequently filed to appoint administrators.

Following their appointment, the administrators agreed a sale value of £15,000 for the goodwill, work in progress and the equity in Kairos Printworks’ financed assets – to be paid in three monthly instalments by KPS, with the final amount due on 23 April.

At the time of the sale KPS employed 26 staff, but at the end of January 12 employees were made redundant and several were transferred to PPG, with some PPG staff joining KPS – 13 staff now work at the scaled-back KPS business.

According to several of the former employees, they had not received wages for December or January and during the process of them trying to claim what was owed, along with their redundancy pay, it emerged that only four of the 12 staff were employed by K2 and K3 - the rest worked for David Dowrick t/a Kairos Printworks.

This meant that the liability for unpaid wages and redundancy was unclear, meaning all 12 staff were left in limbo and were forced to approach the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in mid March to file an early conciliation claim for the money owed.

However, speaking last week to PrintWeek, Foghlu said that KPS would take responsibility for the redundancy packages of all 12 former employees.

“We have accepted that we will take responsibility for redundancy packages and will work with Acas to come to a satisfactory resolution,” Foghlu told PrintWeek. “Over the next few weeks we will be looking at each employee individually to figure out what will be paid.”

At the time of writing, the 12 staff were still to receive official confirmation, while Acas said it couldn’t comment on individual cases.

One of the former employees said: “What we have heard from Acas is that he has not agreed to anything yet. There has been nothing in writing and we have not seen any offers yet. I will believe it when I see it.”

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