Henry Stone Printers has blamed the failure of Stones Ashford on the knock-on negative effects of its previous ownership, while moving to reassure customers of its Banbury operation.
In a letter to customers seen by PrintWeek, Henry Stone’s directors state: “It is anticipated that an administrator will be appointed to the Ashford business imminently in order to manage the facility shut down.”
The letter, co-signed by directors Richard Walsh, Mark Scurr, Paul Colley and Steve Ottley, says the Henry Stone group had invested more than £1m in the Kent business in an attempt to create “a robust platform for profitable growth”.
“However, a combination of chronic under-investment by the previous owners of the site, inherited low margin customer contracts and persistent negative market rumours by competitors have created a substantial commercial risk for the business which has made it impossible to continue trading under these conditions,” they stated.
The letter also stated that Henry Stones had been unable to agree “an equitable solution” for a manageable payment plan with electricity supplier E.On, which had been left with a near-£200,000 bad debt after Headley Brothers went into administration.
E.On cut off the power at Stones Ashford last Friday (17 November).
Some administrative staff are on site working with customers that have incomplete work-in-progress at the factory, but employees are yet to receive official word about how their situation will be resolved.
One employee told PrintWeek: “The latest we hear is that an administrator will be appointed either Thursday or Friday this week, but they are struggling to find an administrator because there aren’t any assets in the company to pay administrator fees.”
Henry Stone managing director Richard Walsh has not responded to requests for comment.
The letter to customers also emphasised that Henry Stone in Banbury is run independently and had received “substantial inward investment”.
Printers including Buxton Press and The Manson Group have picked up work from Stones Ashford customers urgently seeking new printing arrangements.