Bezier print arm set to close

By Jo Francis, Thursday 21 February 2013

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Just four months after Bezier was being mooted as a potential buyer for Alderson's assets, Bezier's own print sites now appear likely to be permanently shuttered and the assets sold off following the firm's dramatic decision to put the businesses into administration.

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Bezier: administrators appointed

Matt Smith and Daniel Butters from Deloitte were appointed as administrators of Bezier Ltd and Pointer Design & Manufacture Ltd last week.

This incorporated the Wakefield point-of-sale factory, Leeds warehousing and distribution, corporate print in Poole and the remains of the Leicester permanent point-of-sale operation.

Almost immediately, on 13 February, 245 employees were laid off with 145 employees remaining to finish work-in-progress.

Hopes that a buyer would emerge for all or part of the business soon faded. "The whole thing imploded very quickly," said a source close to the situation. "They have had trouble mustering any interest in Wakefield. Customers were leaving in droves."

PrintWeek understands that jobs in progress at Wakefield for Home Retail Group are likely to be concluded this week. The Poole commercial printing site has also ceased production.

Kit likely to be up-for-sale includes a KBA Rapida 162a large-format sheetfed press, as well as screen and digital kit. Fujifilm is searching for a buyer for Bezier’s newest piece of digital kit, an Inca Onset.

The Bezier name is set to continue at the remaining business, which plans to focus on its Global Brands operation and reinvent itself as a creative agency and managed services specialist. It has emerged that a number of staff transferred to this operation prior to the restructure.

Bezier chief executive James Buckley said trading had been "incredibly tough" and cited a switch from traditional media to digital marketing channels among the reasons for the dramatic turn of events.

"We had to take a view of what was best for the whole company," he said, in a statement.


 

INDUSTRY REACTION

David Mitchell Former Bezier chairman "My thoughts are with Wakefield and Poole’s loyal, hard-working staff and honest suppliers. I wish the remaining business success."

Mark Simpson Chairman, Simpson Group "It happened so suddenly, it has sent ripples right across the industry. There are a lot of jobs going out of the industry which is not good. For the rest of us who are still standing, capacity going out is a good thing. I’m hoping it will allow prices to be a bit more sensible."

Patrick Martell Chief executive, St Ives "It’s always sad to see people lose their jobs. This is an extremely seasonal market, and so relying on outsourcing as the capacity moves towards equilibrium will cause some issues for print managers."

Daniel Pattison, group sales director, Augustus Martin "It’s sad. It was an impossible situation for them. They were hamstrung from the beginning, I feel sorry for them and their staff."

Print buyer "In the POS field I am not too sure how it will work for retailers if they do not have direct control over the manufacturing."

Printer "Their pricing structure was quite flaky. You ended up trying to compete with something that was never sustainable in the first place."

 


BEZIER TIMELINE

 

May 1998 Formed from an MBO of Wace Group print arm

April 2002 Sets up Bluetouch in-store design agency

May 2005 Turnover reaches £50m

Aug 2005 Electra Partners sells Bezier to MidOcean for £77m

Aug 2006 Buys marketing and ad agency Poulters. Turnover reaches £72m and workforce hits 730. Targets £200m turnover by 2009

Mar 2008 Acquires Coutts Retail communications for £7.2m

Jun 2008 Axes Poulters as part of group restructure

Nov 2009 David Mitchell leads MBI, with former Astron colleagues Trevor O’Reilly and Alistair Stewart

Dec 2010 Proposes closure of Thurrock site

Jan 2011 Long-standing boss Mark Shaw leaves

Feb 2011 Loses Asda contract after 25 years

Aug 2011 Sold again in MBO backed by HIG Europe. Mitchell steps down. Launches £1.5m cloud-based group IT system, Bezier Connect

Jun 2012 Moves production from Leicester to Wakefield

Feb 2012 HIG appoints new chief executive James Buckley and finance director Adrian Lamb

Oct 2012 Posts loss of £8m on sales of £49m in year to April 2012. Poor results blamed partly on "failed IT upgrade"

Jan 2013 Boots and Dixons contracts move to new suppliers

Feb 2013 Administrators called in at Bezier print wing


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