Ultrachem buys Bousfield

By Barney Cox, Wednesday 12 January 2005

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Ultrachem has swooped in to buy Bousfield following parent Openshaw Groups move into administrative receivership.

Ultrachem picked up the pressroom chemical business on Tuesday afternoon (11 January). A spokesman said: "Ultrachem has purchased the chemical manufacturing, brands, formulations, equipment and goodwill of Bousfield and wishes to continue to supply existing customers."

Ernst & Young partners Simon Allport and Roy Bailey were appointed joint administrative receivers of Openshaw Group and UK subsidiaries Openshaw and Bousfield late on Monday (10 January).

The receivers are in discussion with interested parties for the rest of the group, including distribution division Openshaw.

Openshaw Group's administration follows a year of discussions to sell the group, which culminated last week when the last serious suitor, believed to be Litho Supplies, pulled out.

Openshaw Group managing director Tony Halker declined to comment on the identity of the potential suitor, but did say that one reason they had backed away was due to the firm's pension liabilities. Its last filed accounts for the year to December 2002 had a 2.8m pension deficit under FRS17.

"We had been exploring divestment for 12 months and discussing it seriously for the past six," said Halker.

He added that once that deal was off and in the absence of additional funding the firm had no way to continue to trade solvently.

The receivers are continuing to trade the businesses. Halker said: "I have spoken to all of our large suppliers and I expect them to continue to trade with the receivers."

He added: "The response from customers has been fantastic."

Last summer Openshaw's owner, private equity group Rutland, restructured its holding in a debt for equity swap. At the time the bank made additional funds available for the business.

The group's overseas subsidiaries US-based Faust Thermographic Supplies and Bousfield (Holland) are not in receivership.

Sept 1995
Openshaw buys Pan Graphics' consumables wing
March 1996 Openshaw buys Typetronics
Aug 1998 Openshaw buys Artworker
Sep 2000 Rutland acquires Openshaw owner Wolstenholme Rink for 63m. The Openshaw business is demerged
Jan 2001 Amberley says it will sell its Bousfield subsidiary if results do not improve
Nov 2002 Openshaw buys Bousfield and claims enlarged business will have sales of 85m
March 2004 Rutland Trust writes off its 5.8m investment in Openshaw Group
Aug 2004 Rutland Trust converts an outstanding loan of 15.8m and interest of 6.6m in a debt for equity swap. Bank makes additional funds available. Openshaw posts loss of 23m
Jan 2005 Receiver appointed at Openshaw and Bousfield

Industry reaction
"We will do whatever we can to do be supportive of those customers who have bought product from Openshaw" Laurence Roberts, Agfa

"The big three in plate supply all have business there. It's not a nice situation and I feel sorry for the people there" Terry Baber, KPG

"It's not very much of our business and we've been in watch mode for some time. We were always nervous and didn't want to increase our exposure" Keith Dalton, Fuji

"I have sympathy for the staff who are going to lose their jobs. I wonder where that 85m [stated size of combined Openshaw/Bousfield business at time of 2002 merger] has gone? Probably out of the industry and a sign of continuing contraction in the traditional printing market" Gerry Mulvaney, Danwood Group

Story by Barney Cox & Jo Francis

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