FT Solutions acquired by Paragon CC while in administration

By Rhys Handley, Monday 22 January 2018

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FT Solutions has gone into administration, with debts to trade creditors expected to total around £3.4m, and its trade assets have subsequently been acquired by Paragon Customer Communications.

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Walters: "We want to provide stability for our staff"

London-headquartered Paragon announced the acquisition on 17 January, with chief executive Jeremy Walters confirming his company will run FT’s three sites in Hertford, Burnham and Wolverhampton.

Walters said Paragon would take on all of FT’s staff at the three sites, around 80 workers, with no redundancies so far but "restructuring" planned in coming months. Sources have told PrintWeek that some staff have been seeking other employment after being made redundant.

According to a document shown to PrintWeek, FT had liabilities totalling £6.5m as of 31 March 2017, though no more recent figure has been revealed. On 29 December 2017, FT paid £22,706 following a judgment at County Court Business Centre.

On 17 January, Carlisle-headquartered accountancy firm Armstrong Watson was appointed as administrator of FT Solutions. It approached Paragon as a candidate for the acquisition.

Walters said: “We saw great value and great people in the firm, with long-standing customer relationships in sectors we did not have as much presence in.

“FT has some real relevance and we will be taking on their trade assets, including all three premises. Integration will be an ongoing process.

“A lot of areas of our business continue to grow and there will be many changes to our industry that we need to prepare for, such as GDPR. We want to continue to provide stable employment and development for all of our staff going forward.”

Tom Gurd, director of the former FT Solutions, described Paragon as “one of the most dynamic and growing companies” in print, and said he hoped that FT had found an “exciting new home”.

According to FT’s most recently filed accounts, published at Companies House on 31 March 2017, the firm had a turnover of nearly £15.5m and a pre-tax profit of £152,338. The firm’s total assets were shown to be worth £8.1m on that date.

Walters said the acquisition of FT would present an “expanded range of communication and branding solutions” for the more-than 700 companies Paragon serves. Paragon was the winner of Industrial Digital Printer of the Year at the PrintWeek Awards 2017. Operating in 15 countries, it has a global turnover of €642m (around £565m).

Armstrong Watson has declined to comment. PrintWeek has also approached Tom Gurd for further comment.

Update: PrintWeek understands FT's Southampton mailing site was closed by the administrators upon appointment on 17 January with around 50 jobs lost.

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