Ultrachem future unclear as business fails

By Jo Francis, Friday 13 April 2018

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Pressroom consumables manufacturer and supplier Ultrachem has gone into administration.

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Ultrachem: business had been struggling for some time

PrintWeek understands that an administrator was appointed at the Enfield-headquartered company yesterday afternoon (12 April), with eight employees made redundant last night.

Ultrachem’s telephone has been permanently engaged all day, and employee mobile phone numbers are unavailable.

A source close to the situation said that attempts to sell the business or its assets over recent weeks had failed, resulting in the firm going into administration.

Ultrachem had been struggling to deliver products to customers for a number of months, the source said, and its sales team had already left the business. 

“They had been offering really low pricing for some time, I’ve been expecting this to happen,” he said.

Ultrachem’s 2017 accounts are overdue at Companies House. In the year to 31 March 2016 the business posted sales down 10.5% at £9.9m, of which £3.8m was export sales to overseas markets outside the UK. Losses reduced from £228k to £98k. The company employed 57 staff at the time.

Ultrachem claimed to have 1,500 UK customers, and exported to more than 100 countries.

Its product range included own-brand inks, coatings, and pressroom consumables as well as third-party products, such as Van Son inks. Ultrachem acquired Bousfield in 2005, and RW Coatings in 2010.

Agfa sells some of the same types of product as Ultrachem through its Litho Supplies subsidiary. Agfa UK managing director Eddie Williams commented: “They were a competitor, but it’s sad to see a long-standing business go down. I’m afraid it’s another example of where price cutting leads. It’s so cut-throat in the pressroom market, hopefully we can start to see some common sense.”

Williams said Agfa was not interested in acquiring any of the Ultrachem assets.

The family-owned company was founded in 1981 by the late Tony Brinton, who died in December 2015. His daughter Janet Brinton has been the public face of the business in recent years.

Update: administrators Kirstie Provan and Mark Fry from Begbies Traynor were appointed on 19 April. 

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