Latimer Trend blames Brexit as 130-year-old firm hits buffers

By Jo Francis, Friday 11 October 2019

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Long-established book and journal printer Latimer Trend is going into administration after creditors rejected plans for a CVA, with the firm blaming Brexit and a dramatic drop-off in work over the summer for its predicament.

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Latimer Trend: profits at Plymouth firm had slumped

The 130-year-old Plymouth printing company was established in 1889. Its product range included high-pagination books, brochures, magazines, directories and calendars.

It worked for publishers, education providers, high-end design agencies and well-known brands and employed 85 staff. 

Speculation about Latimer Trend’s financial position had been mounting for some time, and the firm was understood to have proposed a CVA deal, but this was rejected by creditors at the end of last week according to sources close to the business.

Managing director Paul Opie sent an email to customers yesterday (10 October), with the subject line 'The Last Post'.

His message said: “I would like to thank the incredible support of our customers, staff and the industry who with a little exception allowed this great millennial company to find a solution to the eventual insurmountable damage caused by the effects of Brexit and the sudden unexpected significant short term drop in sales during May, June and July 2019. 

“It is with tremendous sadness that the company faces administration and will no longer be able to continue to provide for its loyal employees or meet its obligations to its customers or suppliers. 
 
“The future of this great industry will, in my opinion, be supported by the focus on automation but it will only be delivered by the quality and skill of its people. Thank-you,” he concluded.

Latimer Trend ran a wide range of equipment including multiple B1 Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 long perfectors, as well as six- and seven-colour HP Indigo presses. The business had comprehensive in-house finishing and also offered warehousing and fulfilment.

The company had even installed a brand new Screen Truepress Jet520HD inkjet web book printing line and Hunkeler book finishing system for on-demand digital book printing earlier this year, having stated in its most recent accounts that it planned to invest in short run and ultra-short-run book production “as this has great potential to deliver improvements in margin and cash generation to the business”.

Printweek understands the line was never used and was removed before it was even commissioned, after Latimer Trend became unable to meet the payment schedule.

In the firm’s accounts for the year ending 30 April 2018, auditors from PKF Francis Clark gave a qualified opinion on the accounts, noting that they were unable to say whether £3.45m due from group undertakings was fully recoverable.

“If the balance was to be impaired at 30 April 2018 the balance sheet position would reflect net liabilities of £445,687”, the auditor stated, rather than net assets of just of just over £3m.

Turnover at the company increased from £9.73m to £10.1m, but operating profits more than halved, slumping by nearly 70% from £775,363 to £239,595.

The accounts of holding company Latimer Trend Holdings also contain a note about there being a “material uncertainty” about the firm’s ability to continue to trade, with the group stating that it was “anticipating pressure on future cashflows”.

A £1.4m goodwill write-down helped to propel the holding company to an after-tax loss of £3.84m, with negative equity of more than £4m.

Close Brothers registered a charge over the Latimer Trend property at Estover in February.

The business is owned by Opie, finance director Ian Crocker and production director Andy Ogden.

Printweek was unable to reach Opie for comment at the time of writing. 

 

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