Paton Brown looks forward to the future

By Rhys Handley, Monday 09 July 2018

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Paton Brown is looking to continue to emerge from its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) following its acquisition by businessman Kevin Griffin.

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Cooper (r, with Griffin): "I am 100% confident in our ability to fulfil this CVA within the allotted time"

Paton entered its CVA in December 2015, agreeing to pay around £289,000 to its creditors and HMRC in monthly instalments over the course of five years following. The arrangement came about when director Charlotte Cooper inherited the company from her father Ian Cooper following his death in 2014.

She said she was subsequently made aware of an external accountancy error that had led to the company appearing to be in a sounder financial position than it was. Cooper, who had no prior experience in the print or direct mail sector before taking on Paton, elected to enter a CVA rather than go into liquidation in order to preserve the jobs of her staff.

Cooper said: “Many of the people who work for us have been with the company for a long time – as long ago as the 1970s,” she said. “We decided to enter a CVA in order to keep them in work and the terms were agreed upon amicably, preserving positive relationships with our creditors.

“Paton Brown runs profitably now, and I am 100% confident in our ability to fulfil this CVA within the allotted time. I would recommend CVAs as an alternative to liquidation for any business that is struggling as a positive way to recover.

“Our company has existed since it was founded by my grandmother Mary in 1960 and it has very resilient foundations. It was our long-standing legacy that gave creditors the confidence in our ability to pull ourselves back.”

Griffin, who acquired the firm in November last year, also owns direct mail business Acrobat Marketing Solutions. The two companies share a site in Manchester.

Griffin said he made the acquisition to solidify the two companies’ collaboration on a major tender for Thames Water Utilities. The companies will host an open day on Thursday 19 July to showcase their newfound unity to clients and prospective collaborators.

Griffin reiterated Cooper’s confidence in Paton’s ability to pay off the CVA, which has two years remaining.

Paton Brown and Acrobat will continue to operate as separate companies, with Griffin as owner of both and Cooper owning their shared premises, but plans were in place to eventually roll Paton into the larger Acrobat group, which also includes Acrobat Carbon Services, on a separate Manchester site.

The two direct mail companies now share equipment including folding and inserting machines, mailing and polywrapping lines, and four Xerox digital printers, a mix of colour and mono, with a fifth now on order. The combined workforce comprises 65 staff.

Griffin said: “Paton Brown has been around for a long, long time and it is very well known across the North for its high-quality direct mail services.

“This is a good news story for the print industry, following the advent of GDPR. We are seeing a mild resurgence in direct mail to provide relevant messaging to customers and with this merger we are well-positioned to outmanoeuvre email marketing in the carbon and water markets that we predominantly serve.”

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