Westdale Press calls in administrators

Jo Francis
Friday, October 16, 2020

Westdale Press has gone into administration after being fatally wounded by the double-whammy of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Westdale's Cardiff factory. Image: Google Maps
Westdale's Cardiff factory. Image: Google Maps

Administrators from Menzies were appointed at the Cardiff-based company yesterday (15 October) by managing director and owner Alan Padbury.

Westdale ran B1 sheetfed presses and the award-winning printer specialised in high-end brochures, magazines, catalogues, books and other marketing collateral. The firm also had extensive in-house finishing capabilities.

Padbury told Printweek that he had strived to find a way to save the business, which employed around 85 staff. It previously had sales of £13m but had been “limping along” at about £8m this year.

He said he was absolutely devastated about the situation.

“It has been a tortuous six months and we’ve done so many things, I could probably write two books. We explored all the possibilities, all of the loan options and tried marketing the company [for sale] but we’ve run out of road.”

Padbury said he had “pulled up the aircraft before it crashes”.

“I hope the actions taken mean that the administration will have the least impact collaterally on others. The company has been taking advice for some time to make sure that we comply with everything we have to do.”

He also thanked the firm’s suppliers for their support, including major paper supplier Antalis.

Padbury said Westdale had been ineligible for CBILS loans because the group had posted losses in its most recent accounts, after customers deferred projects and put work on hold due to Brexit uncertainty.

A Bounceback loan would have restricted the firm from selling assets “and we knew we had to restructure”.

Earlier this year he sold his car and a treasured old Columbian press.

“I was trying to find a way through it and that paid the wages in the bindery for two weeks,” he explained.

“It shouldn’t be us. We were a strong, good company well-liked by our customers and we produced high quality work – I think one of the best in the country.”

He said that the £1.25m investment in case binding two years ago had been “beginning to pay off”.

Westdale had a number of long-standing clients including Toast and the Open University.

Padbury has been with the business for 36 years and his sons Will and James also worked at the company.

Westdale’s staff have been laid off and the firm has ceased printing. Padbury is helping the administrators deal with the company’s affairs.

Industry associates reacted with sadness at the news.

Former Heidelberg UK sales director Jim Todd, who dealt with the business over many years, said: "I'm absolutely gutted. It's the end of an era."

One fellow high-end print work specialist commented: “It’s concerning and shows the gravity of the situation. They have some very good equipment and people there. Usually it’s the people who don’t invest that fall by the wayside.”

Westdale had three Heidelberg Speedmaster XL presses with in-line CutStar reel feeders – two 10-colours and one eight-colour, at its 6,300sqm premises.

The oldest press was sold earlier this year. 

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