A number of Stones Ashford workers, but not all of them, are in receipt of a letter from Henry Stone Printers managing director Richard Walsh, which has been seen by PrintWeek.
In the letter, dated 24 November, Walsh repeated some of the statements regarding the reasons behind the demise of the Kent magazine printer that appeared in the letter to customers issued last week.
Walsh also apologised for the uncertainty caused by “poor” communication with employees over the past week, and stated that sufficient funds are now in place for an administrator to be appointed.
“As directors we want to appointment [sic] a good Administrator who could manage an effective company closure. We have now ensured that sufficient funds are available for the process to start within the next few days,” Walsh said in the letter.
“We have also been in discussions with some local printers to see if we can facilitate the movement of some staff to new jobs quickly. This is looking promising and we may be able to find up to 40 positions.”
Walsh pledged to keep employees better informed over the next few weeks.
“I entirely accept that our communications have been poor over the last week and I apologise for this, particularly as this has created uncertainty for all staff. All I can say is that the events have unfolded very fast and when it became clear that the business could not be saved, we have been focused on two things – trying to get certainty with the appointment of an Administrator and seeking as many jobs for our staff as we could,” he stated.
One employee told PrintWeek that he was mystified about why Henry Stone directors would be spending time looking into alternative employment opportunities for staff while the Stones Ashford situation remained up-in-the-air: “This is a very strange way to communicate. All we want from an employee point-of-view is transparency and for Stones to pay all staff tomorrow, then we can all move on,” he said.
Union Unite has vowed to “secure pay justice” for the 111 workers at Stones Ashford, and has described the behaviour of the company’s directors as “contemptible”.
Walsh has not responded to requests for comment.