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Printing firm Stones Ashford collapsed owing £4.2 million

By Chris Price

A printing company which closed suddenly shortly before Christmas had debts of nearly £4.2 million.

Stones Ashford closed without warning in November, telling workers not to return to work.

It had only been formed in March after Henry Stones, a magazine printer based in Banbury in Oxfordshire, bought historic printer Headley Brothers out of administration.

Printing business Headley Brothers was put up for sale in January and bought out of administration in March, when it became Stones Ashford

Printing business Headley Brothers was put up for sale in January and bought out of administration in March, when it became Stones Ashford

Documents filed by liquidators show the business owed £180,000 to electricity company E.On, which cut power to the site, prompting its closure.

It also owed £930,000 to its parent company Henry Stones, a statement of affairs filed by KRE Corporate Recovery at Companies House shows.

It was estimated to be liable for £1.4 million of employee claims after it ceased trading.

Staff have now been paid wages for the period up until its closure through the Redundancy Payments Service.

Unite, the union, has also lodged claims on behalf of its members for failure to consult them on their redundancy, which could lead to a further 90 days’ wages being paid.

Compositors at work in the Headley Brothers print shop in the early 20th century

Compositors at work in the Headley Brothers print shop in the early 20th century

HM Revenue & Customs was left with an unpaid bill of £741,000 from Stones Ashford.

The company had a £2.2 million debt with Close Brothers Asset Finance for plant and machinery, which is estimated to fetch about £2 million when it is sold.

Meanwhile IGF Business Credit, based in Paddock Wood, is owed £727,000.

Representatives from Stones Ashford did not respond to requests for comment.

The company saved 113 jobs when it was formed out of the ashes of Headley Brothers, which had been put up for sale two months earlier amid spiralling losses of £1.8m in 2015.

Founded in 1881, the company had been based on the same site in Queens Road, known as the Invicta Press, since a fire burned down its factory in Edinburgh Road in 1906.

It already made 85 staff redundant before its sale to Henry Stones.

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