Long-standing family firm latest to fall victim to pandemic

Jo Francis
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

A long-standing Yorkshire-based large-format printing business has gone into administration, with its assets subsequently sold to a fellow Yorkshire print company.

One of Kuhnel's wide-format printers at its Ossett site. Image: Hilco
One of Kuhnel's wide-format printers at its Ossett site. Image: Hilco

Family-owned firm Kuhnel Graphics went into administration on 14 September, with joint administrators James Sleight and Oliver Collinge from PKF GM appointed to handle the case.

Ossett, Wakefield-based Kuhnel Graphics’ services included point-of-sale, point-of-purchase, 3D cardboard engineering, exhibition stands and general signage. 

The firm ran a raft of digital and screen printing kit, including Canon Oce Arizona and Colorado large-format printers, a Thieme screen printing line, Zund cutters and Cauhe GH320 guillotine.

Kuhnel had been trading for more than 50 years, but business was badly impacted by the pandemic-induced downturn in its key markets. It had furloughed staff and also took out a CBILS loan. 

Sleight commented: “Kuhnel Graphics is a well-respected printing firm with loyal staff and a long history of quality and customer service. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and resulting decline in orders during lockdown and the associated cash flow implications, Administration was necessary in order to protect the business and the interests of creditors.”

The administrators initially traded the business to fulfil existing orders while also exploring further options for the company. “Unfortunately, despite interest from several parties, a sale wasn’t possible and the business was closed down and all staff were made redundant on 24 September,” PKF GM said. 

Around 25 staff were made redundant. 

Subsequently, a competitive bidding process was held to purchase the assets of Kuhnel Graphics, with Leeds-based Zebra Print emerging as the successful bidder.

Zebra Print is a family-run business managed by father and daughter David Storr and Samantha Overton. The firm is based in Pudsey and was a customer of Kuhnel Graphics. 

Sleight said time had run out to be able to sell the business as a going concern and retain the jobs. “The sale of the business assets to Zebra Print, however avoided the need for the assets to be sold piecemeal at auction and gives the Administration outcome certainty which helps maximise the return to creditors. The business will survive albeit in a different form.

“I’m pleased that Zebra Print, another Yorkshire family firm, will ensure continuity of supply for many customers and wish them all the best. I’d also like to thank Kuhnel’s dedicated team who have supported us during this difficult time as well as its customers and suppliers.”

In a statement, Samantha Overton, Joint managing director of Zebra Print said: “Zebra Print is pleased to acquire the assets of Kuhnel Graphics. We’ve been a customer for a number of years. This deal will support our expansion plans after seeing significant growth despite the uncertain economic outlook.”

Zebra offers a range of services from design to labels, direct mail, promotional items and web offset, as well as stock holding. 

Joint managing director David Storr told Printweek that the business had started off in print management, but had since added in-house print manufacturing with sheetfed digital kit and associated finishing equipment, and was keen to expand the print side of the operation, hence the Kuhnel buy. 

“It was easier to make an offer for the whole of the equipment. Now we will look at what we require to take the business forward,” he explained. 

Storr said Zebra hoped to be able to offer jobs to some of Kuhnel's former employees as part of the process. 

Hilco, which is holding an auction of Kuhnel’s equipment that will close on 13 October, is revising its sale process as a result, pending details of any surplus assets. 

Printweek was unable to reach Kuhnel Graphics managing director Simon Kuhnel for comment at the time of writing. 

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