The flagship site of the once-mighty Robert Horne paper merchanting business has been reduced to rubble and will now be redeveloped.
The huge 31,000sqm Moulton Park warehouse and distribution site near Northampton was put up for let after the 2015 collapse of merchanting group Paperlinx UK, Robert Horne’s owner, but without success.
A demolition team from Squibb has now flattened Moulton Park, as well as another warehouse in the locality that had been occupied by fellow Paperlinx company Howard Smith Paper Group, at the Brackmills industrial estate to the south.
Former employees have been sharing their memories of happier times working at the businesses on social media, including a number of employees whose offspring learned to swim in the company swimming pool at Moulton Park.
The Howard Smith warehouse was around 30 metres high and had become a familiar landmark to many in the area. Bob Reeve, who was a driver for Howard Smith Paper, said: “I remember when it was built. The racking was put up first and when you came over the hill there was this giant Meccano set sitting there.”
Andy Davies, a former sales and marketing manager at Robert Horne, commented: “It’s some coincidence that they were both being razed simultaneously.”
The 19-acre Moulton Park site has been acquired by developer Gazeley, which specialises in logistics warehouses and distribution parks and coincidentally also built the huge warehouse-type building that housed Polestar’s Sheffield gravure supersite. The Northants site will be renamed G.Park Northampton and is set to house three new warehouses from 4,650sqm to 14,400sqm in size.
Liberty Property Trust plans to redevelop the Howard Smith site into an 18,210sqm logistics unit called Liberty 196, comprising warehousing and a hub office.
Separately, in their most recent update for the period to 3 April 2018, the now joint liquidators at Deloitte working on the case of the Paperlinx group of companies stated that the Pension Protection Fund has submitted a £234m claim against the Robert Horne scheme, and a £31m claim against the Howard Smith pension scheme. The PPF’s previous claim against The Paper Company was withdrawn.
Unsecured creditors of 14 out of 18 of the Paperlinx companies were paid an interim distribution in March, varying from 0.63p in the pound to 100p in the pound depending on the company involved. Deloitte said a second and final distribution would be paid “as soon as practicable”.
When Paperlinx went bust unsecured creditors, including the pension schemes with a claim at the time from the PPF for £180m, were owed more than £300m.
Howard Smith image above: Andy Davies