Lincoln-based printer Elpeeko has been placed into creditors' voluntary liquidation, the 113-year-old business closing its doors less than a year after three directors took the reins through a management buyout (MBO) deal.
The directors, and formerly minority shareholders, Clare Griffiths, Gary Spittlehouse and David Swaine bought former managing director Steve Turner’s 65% stake in the business ahead of his retirement last year.
The trio had been with Elpeeko for 28, 35 and 35 years respectively at the time and the deal made them equal shareholders.
Eight staff worked at the firm, including the three directors, and all were made redundant when the business closed on 26 January. All work in progress had been completed prior to cessation of trade.
John Harlow of John Harlow Insolvency and Corporate Recovery was appointed as the liquidator of the company by members and creditors on 23 February.
Harlow told PrintWeek: “The reasons the directors attributed the failure of the business to included a decrease in turnover leading to shortage of cashflow.
“The company had insufficient resources available to enable investment or development into other areas of printing and it found itself unable to cope with increased competition in the marketplace.”
Elpeeko’s draft accounts made up to October 2017 indicated a turnover of £258,000.
The firm’s tangible assets were sold at an auction run by Eddisons last week. The firm’s statement of affairs shows that the business had plant and machinery with a book value of £13,060, which was estimated to realise £8,000.
Harlow said the machinery comprised colour presses, scanners and finishing equipment plus office furniture and a vehicle, the majority of which was owned by the company.
PrintWeek understands the firm was running a Heidelberg GTO, a Xerox digital printer and three Epson wide-format devices at the time of its closure, although it is unclear which of this equipment it owned.
The company’s 340sqm freehold property has a book value of £194,425 and is currently on the market with Lambert Smith Hampton.
The secured creditors were HSBC, the mortgagee for the freehold property that provided a funding package for last year’s MBO deal – owed £128,318 – and Skipton Business Finance, which was owed £4,672 due to an invoice financing agreement.
Harlow said the latter has now been satisfied by collection of debts – Elpeeko’s book debts of £33,048 were estimated to realise £10,348 – and he anticipates surplus collections to be remitted in due course.
“We are optimistic that on the sale of the freehold property and following a successful auction and debt collection, there will be surplus funds available to enable a distribution to creditors,” said Harlow.
Elpeeko was founded in 1905 and known as the Lincoln Printing Company until the 1920s. A 70pp book about the history of the firm written by Mark Duckering, The History of Elpeeko Limited – Formerly the Lincoln Printing Company, was published in 2015.