Butler Tanner & Dennis’ book printing operation in Frome is in the process of being administered, with co-owner Felix Dennis describing it as “a sad day for British book printing”.
BT&D cited uncertainties over its existing site, ongoing losses and market conditions as being behind the decision. The company will be closed with the loss of 100 jobs.
Its site is being redeveloped and the company’s lease expired last year. She had negotiated an extension but could not find alternative premises.
General Manager Gerald White said, “We have to leave this site by September 14th. I spent nine months looking for an alternative site and was unable to do so.
“I started looking for a 25 mile radius and eventually widened it to 100 miles, but I still couldn’t find the type of unit we needed with the power we needed and the right kind of ground. The costs of converting standard warehouse buildings would run into the millions.
Employees were informed of the decision this afternoon (May 13).
Co-owner Felix Dennis, the flamboyant publishing mogul who saved the company in 2008, was abroad and unable to speak personally to staff.
He issued a statement describing the UK printing industry as “losing one of its shining stars”.
He said: “It was with a heavy heart that I supported the Board’s decision to place Butler Tanner & Dennis Ltd under administration. Since my involvement in 2008, I have invested a lot of time, money and energy to help build a sustainable book printing business in Frome.
“However, site issues and difficult market conditions ultimately forced our hand. It is an extremely sad day for the British printing press to lose this fantastic accumulation of talent and heritage. I am indebted to Frome’s past and present staff as well as to customers and suppliers for their support, hard work and dedication. I would also like to thank my partner, Gerald White, for his invaluable support throughout this difficult and challenging process. “
BT & D’s card printing operation is not included in the administration and is expected to continue, although it will have to relocate unless space can be allocated to it at the redeveloped Frome site.
The company obtained a four-year contract by Ordnance Survey in 2010.
Dennis said other parts of the business could potentially be picked up and moved to other locations.
Parent Butler Tanner & Dennis Holdings achieved revenue of £ 13.5million (2011: £ 16.2million) in the year ended December 31, 2012 and recorded a pre-tax loss of £ 860,000 (2011 loss: £ 2 million).
White said the multi-award winning company’s fortunes had improved since the merger with his company Berforts Information Press last summer.
“We turned the situation around very well, but not enough. We have made tremendous progress and reduced costs. But in the end, the shareholders thought it was unsustainable. It’s a sad day and that’s not why I got into business. “
He said he hoped to minimize the job losses.
Richard Rones of Thornton Rones is expected to be appointed director of BT&D.
White said it was too early to say what the situation would mean for the company’s creditors.
BT&D operates large-format sheetfed presses from Heidelberg and KBA, a Kodak digital printing kit and a host of specialist binding equipment.
The origins of the printer go back to 1845 when founder WT Butler opened a printing house in Frome.
The Berforts Information Press sites in Hastings, Stevenage and Eynsham are not affected.