Lay-offs at Williams Lea Tag

By Jo Francis, Tuesday 01 August 2017

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Williams Lea Tag is laying off around 100 staff, as speculation mounts that news about the sell-off of the business could be imminent.


WLT: creative production department restructured

The business process outsourcing group is making the redundancies at its EMEA operation.

A spokeswoman told PrintWeek: "We can confirm that we have restructured our creative production department, as part of our on-going efforts to deliver efficient solutions for our global clients and leverage our digital capabilities in a competitive market. The restructuring has impacted around 100 of our 3,500 people in our EMEA region." 

Williams Lea lost its sole supplier status on a huge government contract at the beginning of the year, and the transition period concluded last month.  

The group, which posted sales of more than £500m in the UK in its most recent accounts, has been the subject of market speculation since earlier this year, when then-CEO Dan Ellerton abruptly departed.

Dave Rushton, chief operating officer for EMEA, is also understood to have recently left the business. 

Investment bank Moelis & Co was subsequently said to be handling the sale on behalf of owner Deutsche Post DHL Group.

A sell-off of the entire business to a private equity buyer has been mooted as the most likely outcome, and has given rise to speculation that the scale of the opportunity could tempt former Williams Lea CEO Tim Griffiths, or Astron Group’s David Mitchell, back into the BPO business.  

PrintWeek could not reach Griffiths or Mitchell for comment.

There has also been talk about a break-up option, with HH Global named as a possible buyer for the Tag operation.

A number of senior employees at HH are ex-Williams Lea – former Tag chief operating officer Steve Nunn is now chief executive at HH Global’s EMEA business, while Alan Bittle left his procurement director role at Williams Lea to become director of strategic sourcing at HH.

HH Global chief executive Robert MacMillan was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

A source close to the situation said they believed the sale process was nearing completion. “My hunch is that a private equity buyer will probably end up being successful, but who knows?”

PrintWeek understands that there is also disquiet in the firm’s print supply chain. “Some of their print suppliers are very unhappy. They’ve set themselves up for real-time reporting and have spent a lot of money sorting that out, and they’re just not getting the work,” said a source.

Williams Lea Tag owner Deutsche Post DHL Group has declined to comment on market rumours about a sale.


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