Home   Kent Business   County news   Article

Printing business Headley Brothers up for sale as Ashford company bosses try to avoid administration

A 130-year-old printing company has been put up for sale as bosses fight to avoid tumbling into administration.

Headley Brothers, which has been based in Ashford since 1881, has appointed advisory firm Smith & Williamson to look for a buyer.

The company, which employs about 200 people, has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators to protect it from its creditors while it tries to strike a deal.

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

Its most recently available accounts show it had revenues of £19.5 million in the year to December 2014 and made pre-tax losses of £474,000.

Its accounts for the year to December 2015 are two months overdue but the company said it made a bottom line loss of £1.8 million.

This came after a loss of £1.4 million on discontinued operations from a company restructure, despite making a gross profit of £3.6 million on sales of £19.3 million in 2015.

The business was founded by brothers Herbert and Burgess Headley to print paper bags, bill heads and circulars for Ashford businesses.

The venture was such a success the brothers decided to launch a newspaper, releasing the Kent Examiner & Ashford Chronicle with Barham Boorman, who was also founder of the Kent Messenger.

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

In 1900 the company moved to a new factory built in Edinburgh Road but the site was destroyed in a fire in 1906.

It rebuilt on a fresh site at Queens Road, where the company still operates today.

Although the business is family owned, the original partnership between the two brothers dissolved in 1908.

Herbert Headley took the London publishing side of the business while Burgess Henry Headley was given sole control of the printing operations in Ashford.

Today its service is delivered on the latest sheet-fed, web and digital printing presses.

The majority of its shares are today held by the Pitt family, which had run the firm for several generations.

The original Headley Brothers shop in Ashford High Street, where the business was founded in 1881
The original Headley Brothers shop in Ashford High Street, where the business was founded in 1881

Today it is led by managing director Simon Bingham, who confirmed the notice of intention to appoint administrators was filed on Friday, January 20.

He said: “Headley Brothers has restructured extensively in the recent past which has put it in a stronger underlying trading position.

“It is a company with over a century of experience in the printing industry and a wide ranging and strong client base.

“Despite the success of the restructuring Headley Brothers has an overhang of historic debt which has led to this position.”


More by this author


Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More