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Jobs saved as rival buys out print firm
WORKERS last night spoke of their relief after their jobs at an Oxfordshire printing company were saved.
All 518 jobs were secured at Benhamgoodheadprint (BGP) after parent company the Goodhead Group was bought out of administration for an undisclosed sum by rival firm the Polestar Group.
The firm has two local sites, BGP in Bicester and Stones the Printers in Banbury.
The Oxford Mail understands workers were not paid last week, but the money went into their accounts yesterday once the new owners were in place.
The deal was a “pre-pack” administration which means the business was immediately bought by an agreed buyer once administrators had stepped in.
It is understood that while the Goodhead business has transferred to Polestar, the company pension scheme will almost certainly be passed to the Government-backed Pension Protection Fund.
The company – founded in 1973 under the name Goodhead Press – has made losses of £70m over the past five years, triggered by the loss of its contract to print the BT Phone Book, after a deal was struck instead with a Spanish company in 2006.
At one point the company, which will now be known as Polestar, was making yearly losses of £18m, although last year that was reduced to £3.5m.
One worker, who declined to be named, was pleased with the move. He said: “It was a nightmare company to work for, the management was a total joke.
“I hope the management is going to be better. We have got to give them the benefit of the doubt.
“At least I can get food on the table and pay the bills now.”
In January this year Goodhead, owned by Thames Valley entrepreneur Sir John Madejski, took the unusual step of asking all its staff to take a pay cut of up to 20 per cent in a bid to save £2m.
Barry Hibbert, chief executive of Polestar, said: “We are delighted to add the firepower and product capability of BGP and Stones to the Polestar portfolio which will strengthen and extend our client service offering substantially.
“BGP and Stones are superbly equipped facilities with dedicated and highly skilled employees and, while some changes will be inevitable, it is our intention to continue with the businesses in their current form.
“We are confident the integration of these operations into the Polestar Group will be a positive move for customers, employees and suppliers of the business.“
Allan Graham, joint administrator and restructuring partner at administrators KPMG, said: “The printing sector has suffered extremely difficult trading conditions over the last few years, but we are pleased that we have been able to rescue the business and over 500 jobs.”
Meanwhile, publisher Tri Media, based at Shippon, near Abingdon, has been bought out of administration by its managing director Howard Taylor.
The business, which publishes The Oxfordshire Guardian, Property Weekly and Auto Weekly, went into administration last month.
Administrator David Tann, of finance specialist Wilkins Kennedy, said: “We can confirm that we were appointed as administrators to Tri Media Newspapers Limited following a difficult trading period for the company.
“The business was sold to Taylor Newspapers Limited, owned by Howard Taylor, preserving all 20 jobs at the company.”