The site abruptly shut down on Friday afternoon after electricity supplier E.On arrived at the factory with a warrant and cut off the power, reportedly over an overdue bill for £80,000.
This morning (20 November) employees were addressed by Rob Gershon, partnership director at TVI Group (Thames Valley Capital), the financial backer of the Henry Stone companies.
Henry Stone managing director Richard Walsh and group operations director Mark Scurr did not attend the meeting, apparently over fears for their safety.
“It’s pretty disgusting that they didn’t even turn up,” one employee told PrintWeek. “We seem to be in limbo. Rob Gershon said they are going to appoint an administrator as soon as possible, and it seems that the electricity saga has brought that forward.
“He read out our entitlements but we pretty much know that off by heart by now due to what happened in February,” the employee added.
The business employs around 100 staff.
Employees have also voiced concerns that work for some of the site's best-paying customers had previously been relocated to the Henry Stone operation in Banbury, and that cross-billings for work carried out at Ashford on behalf of Banbury had not been paid. Cashflow at Stones Ashford was hit as a result.
There is uncompleted, time-sensitive work in progress at the Ashford factory, and customers have also been seen at the site attempting to recover paper stocks. A used machinery dealer has also been on site assessing the equipment.
Customers are urgently seeking alternative printing arrangements, at what is traditionally a very busy time for publication printers.
“Every day makes a difference at this time of year. Nobody is sure what the status of the company is, and if your paper is stuck in Ashford it’s not easy to find paper in a few days,” said an industry source.
Walsh could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.