Polestar, the UK’s largest independent printing company and a specialist producer of academic books and journals, is going into administration, putting 1,400 jobs at risk.
The £216.4m group, which prints 50m products a week, was forced into administration after the company's largest client - believed to be newspaper publisher DMG Media, according to Print Week - failed to renew its contract. The group's academic arm, Polestar Wheatons in Exeter, works with many European and domestic organisations that encompass academic publishing, higher education, corporate reporting and financial professionals sectors, among others.
Polestar currently employs around 1,500 staff (including Applied Solutions), as well as agency workers.
A message on the Polestar website confirms news of the administration and adds that its content marketing operations, Polestar Applied Solutions Ltd and The River Group Ltd, and PPHL, are "completely unaffected" by it. The message says the "priority" for administrators is to continue operations and it is paying staff "as normal".
Zelf Hussain and Peter Dickens of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were appointed joint administrators yesterday (25th April).
PwC said in a statement: “The business had previously undergone a pre-packaged sale with the aim of protecting value and achieving stability. Unfortunately the decision by its largest customer not to transfer their business to the new company as well as continued pressure from other stakeholders has threatened the viability of the ongoing business to the extent that directors have sought the protection of an administration for the two companies.”
Union Unite is "vowing" to protect print jobs at Polestar. Its national officer, Ian Tonks, said: “This is bitter news for our members. Over the coming days Unite will be doing everything in its power to support them and preserve their jobs.
“We firmly believe that Polestar has a future and can be successful. Its workforce is second to none and produces some of the best quality print in the UK. We have been in contact with the administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers and will be working closely with them throughout the process to ensure that the business is sold to a viable buyer."
M.d. of print finishing company First 4 Print, David Nestor, tweeted his sympathies: "Thoughts are with our many friends at various Polestar sites across the country. I hope something positive for you comes out of this mess!"
Matthew Parker, an advisor to print companies in the UK, meanwhile, commented: "This could make the UK #print market VERY interesting".