The ongoing saga at Stones Ashford could be coming to a conclusion – workers are expecting to be made redundant today, while KRE Corporate Recovery has been engaged to handle the liquidation of the business.
A general meeting of employees hosted by Unite the Union yesterday made the lead story on local news channel BBC South East.
“It was a good meeting. It was quite heated to begin with, due to the understandable frustration of people,” said Stones Ashford FOC Matt Taylor. “We’ve been told we will be made redundant today, and our P45s are being prepared at Banbury.”
However, it has also emerged that one employee who has already received their P45 has been given a date of redundancy of 19 November, two days after the power was cut off at the Kent business by energy supplier E.On.
Employees of the Kent web and sheetfed printer have been left in a state of limbo since.
Henry Stone Printers managing director Richard Walsh has still not responded to requests for comment.
It has also emerged that a winding-up petition issued by E.On, and due to be heard on 22 January 2018, may have contributed to the delay in appointing an insolvency practitioner.
An E.On spokesperson said: “We can confirm we attended a business premises in Ashford to disconnect energy supplies because of a significant unpaid debt.
“This is always a regrettable decision and not one we take likely but it is only fair to other customers that energy used should be paid for.
“We have been speaking to the customer for a number of weeks to find a solution to their problem but in the absence of any constructive development or agreement to pay towards the debt we were forced to make this decision.”
KRE partner Paul Ellison is handling the case, with the proposed liquidation date for Stones Ashford understood to be 14 December.
There has also been speculation that one or more print businesses could be interested in continuing to operate the presses at the site on a temporary basis.
However, the presses may require significant attention before they can be run again, due to the power being cut off part-way through a shift.
“One of the sheetfed presses was half-way through a job, and it’s probably solid by now. The M600 ducts are still full of ink,” said a Stones Ashford employee.