Ron and Peter Alderson have ruled out the possibility of a 'phoenix' of any of the group's insolvent print businesses, following speculation about a number of new companies connected to senior managers at the group.
Alderson Print Group’s co-founders stressed their position after the group’s remaining four trading companies joined ABP Web in administration and after it emerged that a number of shell companies had been set up by senior managers at APG.
"We are speaking on behalf of all APG executives [when we say] no one has shown any desire except to get the best deal for all staff, clients and suppliers. The offers and interested parties are not from any seniors," said the Alderson brothers.
Alderson Brothers Printers, Alderson Digital London, Alderson Point of Sale, and the group’s trade finishing arm Don Dawson, together with ABP Web, are now all in administration with Duff & Phelps.
ABP Web's 90 staff were made redundant following the appointment of administrators on 31 August. However, the Aldersons stressed their belief that all four companies that continued to trade could be saved, provided a deal could be done quickly.
"They are and can continue to be viable businesses," they said. "But they must be sold quickly to give confidence back to clients and protect as a many of the jobs as possible."
Commenting on the cause of the group’s woes, the brothers admitted that, as has been the case for many in the trade, there had been "some trading issues with lack of margin".
Furthermore, after beginning a "long overdue" restructuring programme in 2011, the group was carrying those costs through into 2012 and had "lost a number of customers to print management companies due to some previous poor sales management".
As a result, revenues were down at the end of 2011 and the start of 2012 as the group rebuilt; however, the Aldersons said that "new sales under contract wins and business plan growth [had] recently kicked in".
Despite the group’s troubled start to the year, the brothers hinted that a turnaround had been tantalisingly close prior to the alleged withdrawal of nearly £1m from the group’s bank facilities.
"Sales for August, September and October were reported at record high levels for the first time in 18 months [and] it is very sad to now see that our management information confirmed that we were entering a record profit period," they said.
"The business needed some injection of cash and we had committed to put these funds in from our own assets. The bank agreed, then went back on their agreement and its position, stripping nearly £1m from cash flow in a matter of hours.
"We couldn’t fight that level of attack, but we tried. Barclays continued to try and bring the business down by even blocking our other accounts, stopping us paying staff."
Barclays has previously denied the group’s allegations regarding the withdrawal of funding stating that it had made no changes to its financial agreements with the group.
Reports of a number of additional redundancies remained unconfirmed at the time of writing, as the joint administrators to all five APG firms John Whitfield, Benjamin Wiles and Paul Clark, of Duff & Phelps, were unavailable for comment.
A number of APG staff contacted PrintWeek yesterday (Tuesday) stating that employees had been "left in the dark" and that some had already "walked" in order to find other jobs.
In a statement issued this morning, Whitfield said: "Alderson Brothers Printers Limited, Don Dawson Plc, Alderson Point of Sale Limited and Alderson Digital London Limited are continuing to trade under the Joint Administrators supervision as we identify a trade buyer for the business and assets of the respective companies."
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