Sadness as pandemic forces closure

Jo Francis
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A long-established and highly-respected London printing company is set to close after the pandemic laid waste to sales.

Matthews the Printers: "We’ve got through two recessions... but this one has just beaten us"
Matthews the Printers: "We’ve got through two recessions... but this one has just beaten us"

Matthews the Printers is set to go into voluntary liquidation after the pandemic decimated its core business in hospitality.

The Chingford, East London business was founded in 1984. 

Co-founder and owner Dennis Ott told Printweek the firm had managed to keep going for the past year, but the financial drain in trying to keep afloat for another five- or six-months had become untenable. 

Matthews the Printers had focused on clients in hospitality for a number of years, with a raft of blue chip customers including Fuller’s, Greene King, and numerous restaurant chains. As well as print production, it offered online brand and campaign management services through its Mediabridge system. 

“At the time we chose to do that, we believed the one thing everyone would want to do is eat and drink,” Ott explained. 

“When Covid hit it was like going over a cliff edge. I’ve tried to keep it going but we’ve just reached the stage where it’s just pouring money down the drain all the time,” he said.

“I believe in a year’s time the country and hospitality will boom, I really do believe that, and if I was 20 years’ younger I’d fight it like hell. But being an entrepreneur at an older age is not something I think I’m capable of.

“We’ve got through two recessions and fought those, but this one has just beaten us.”

In the year to 31 January 2020 Matthews the Printers had sales of £9.8m and made an operating profit of nearly £600,000. 

Ott said that most of the firm’s 78 staff had been furloughed, and the business had been able to keep going in a reduced form thanks to a major account that switched to takeaways, but it was not enough to be sustainable.

Employees were informed a fortnight ago that the company was to be wound down, and Ott and his team have since been explaining the situation to clients and suppliers. 

“People are very sad. It was a really good company and I think anyone who dealt with us were happy to deal with us – we’ve always run the business properly and paid our bills on time.

“I was always very proud that hardly anyone ever left the business, and if they did they often came back. I feel absolutely choked. This is not the way I envisaged me and the business coming to an end. I had different plans for the continuation of the business. This is not the way I saw my exit,” he added.

Matthews the Printers will stop trading on 31 May as part of an orderly shutdown that Ott said would be handled “properly and professionally”.

The firm’s equipment included multi-colour B2 Komori Lithrone litho presses and a Kodak Nexfinity digital press, which was the first in the UK. Its services also included large-format printing with a Fujifilm Acuity, as well as cardboard engineering and in-house finishing facilities. 

 

 

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