Stephen Docherty, chairman at Scottish book and commercial print group Bell & Bain, confirmed that the company had hoped to seal a deal to keep Plymouth-based Latimer Trend going, but despite extensive efforts it had not proved possible.
He described it as “a mission from the heart”.
Docherty told Printweek: “I am very sorry for the 80 good hard working people of Latimer Trend that we failed to save the company and ultimately their jobs. I am so, so sorry I could not help the Plymouth area. With a mixture of sadness and disgust which will stick with me for such a long time, I am truly upset for these people.
“We thought we had everything covered but a small detail of a second ranking agreement on a small building the company owns would not be withdrawn to allow the takeover,” Docherty explained.
The identity of the person or company holding the property agreement was not known at the time of writing.
Latimer Trend managing director Paul Opie said administrators from accountants and business advisers James Cowper Kreston were appointed yesterday afternoon (17 October) at the £10m turnover business.
“After a monumentous effort to execute a rescue plan and secure the future of the original work force which continued to gather external support, including Plymouth City Council, talks finally concluded late last night after a suitable way forward could not be found,” Opie stated.
Latimer Trend had paid staff wages up to yesterday and transferred its remaining cash reserves to the administrators, he said.
“Approximately 35 members of staff are still employed by the business and will transfer to the administrators before being made redundant,” Opie added.
“Finally I thank all of our staff for their support to the end, our customers and all those who have worked so hard on our behalf to find a suitable way forward. I am sorry for the difficulties this situation has placed on individuals and the businesses who have supported us.”
Docherty also thanked the business professionals who had tried to help with his rescue plan.
“Nick Aust of Close Brothers moved heaven and earth to keep this company alive. They have done everything they could to save these jobs. The lawyers Mike Pavitt and Jenny Packer of Paris Smith Solicitors are just top drawer. The administrator James Cowper Kreston helped as best they could.
“This was a mission from the heart rather than a business head but we would have made a massive success of this without doubt.”
He said he was disappointed that bankers RBS had not wanted to engage with himself or Bell & Bain managing director Karen Baillie.
“Karen and myself found this more than disappointing to say the very least. However our heads are held very high in Glasgow. I cannot comment on other parts of the country.”
Long-standing book, journal and magazine printer Latimer Trend was established 130 years ago and prints for a raft of blue-chip customers.
Although it won a large five-year contract with the UK Hydrographic Office in 2016, Printweek understands this was a ‘waning’ contract with volumes reducing over time.
One book industry expert commented: “I think the problem in that market is that the printers involved are fighting over a dwindling pool of work. Margins are shrinking too fast and cash is limited. It’s not sustainable for the long term.”