Historic Banbury print firm goes into administration

Henry Stone NNL-160714-093329001
Henry Stone NNL-160714-093329001

One of the country’s oldest printing firms, based in Banbury, has gone into administration with the loss of 101 jobs.

Henry Stone, located on the Wildmere Industrial Estate, was put into administration on Thursday, March 15, overseen by FRP Advisory partners Phil Armstrong and Geoff Rowley. All 101 staff were immediately made redundant.

Mr Rowley said: “Henry Stone Limited has suffered as a result of a tough trading environment over the past couple of years.

“The directors are grateful to all staff, customers and suppliers who have supported them over this period, but severe cash flow problems have resulted in the company entering administration today.

“The financial position of the company means that we will have to begin winding down the business.

“Unfortunately all members of staff have been made redundant and we are providing every support during this challenging time.”

The closure comes after a tumultuous couple of years for the firm, which was established in 1826.

In April 2016, the printers’ parent company, Polestar, then the UK’s biggest commercial and publications printer with a turnover of £216 million, went into administration and was attempting to solidify its finances by jettisoning smaller firms under its control.

The Banbury-based company was mooted to be one such company unless a buyer could be found.

Richard Walsh, Mark Scurr, Steve Ottley and Richard Hinchliffe, all employees of the firm, stepped in with their own personal investment and additional financial backing from Thames Valley Capital to secure a management buyout (MBO) to secure the company’s future.

The MBO also included the acquisition of two external businesses, Headley Brothers of Kent and Wheatons Exeter, printer of books, directories and catalogues, who both went into administration in November 2017 and May 2017 respectively.

After the MBO there was genuine optimism and excitement about the printers’ future which saw the installation of a ten-colour printer last summer.

Richard Walsh told the Banbury Guardian in June 2016 when the buyout was confirmed: “This business has been in Banbury since 1826, it’s got a heritage and a history and a fantastic reputation in the marketplace and it would be an absolute crying shame for it not to be a part of the print industry any more.

“The people here are longtermers, very loyal, very dedicated staff.

He added: “I want to make this a family business again and that ethos is really important to us, because if it becomes family then you fight for it.”

Buyers for the printing firm had been mooted but at the time of going to press no viable buyer of the business as a whole or the constituent parts had been found.

The website for the company was still live as the paper went to press and outlined what had been its range of services in the ‘About Us’ section: ‘Offering everything from Online, Apps, Digital and Sheet-Fed printing...

‘With all services, from pre-press to printing, print finishing and fulfilment on-site, we have the capability to deliver cost-effective and efficient solutions no matter how large or small’.

n If you have a story for us, email the BG newsdesk at editorial@banburyguardian.co.uk