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Learning to sup with the devil

The British printing industry was told last month that its businesses are more likely to fail than British industry as a whole. Nick Hood, senior London partner at Begbies Traynor, the UK’s leading independent corporate recovery and insolvency specialist, told a seminar in London that the printing sector accounts for 1.5% of GDP in the UK but over 6% of formal rescues and 2.5% of corporate burials or liquidations.

“You have more business failures than you should have,” he said. The seminar, organised by the British Printing Industries Federation in association with turnaround specialists SpringTurn, targeted the 12 000 plus companies in the printing sector, with a total of 186 000 employees and annual sales of £14.6bn.

Business leaders attending the seminar were told that the printing industry was characterised by over-capacity, low barriers to entry, and a mature market with low growth.

Joseph Wazzan, managing director SpringTurn, said: “The British printing industry has to improve the quality of its management. It needs to be more creative in the way it approaches its business targets and to be more pro-active when faced with problems.”

Nick Hood defended the record of corporate recovery specialists on the issue of business phoenixing in the printing industry. “When you are an insolvency practitioner you often have to sup with the devil. My job is to do my best for the creditors.

“If there is no other bid, and the directors are willing to put their hands in their pockets, I can’t just turn away their offer on moral grounds alone. But what I do make sure is that every effort is made to find an unconnected buyer as an alternative.”

Michael Johnson, chief executive of the British Printing Industries Federation said: “Given the challenges of our industry today, success and survival will rely more upon a professional business approach than purely investing in the latest technology.”