Eric Anstee caught up in collapse of Blue Printing

by Rachael Singh

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23 Feb 2012

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FORMER ICAEW chief executive Eric Anstee has been caught up in the collapse of Blue Printing.

Anstee is a former non-executive at the printing business and is now a creditor - having pumped in his own money to keep it afloat.

Tony Murphy and Paul Boyle, partners at Harrisons, were appointed joint-administrators earlier this week.

It is estimated the taxman is owed about £1m from Blue Printing, which had a turnover of more than £1m every month. Anstee (pictured) is owed about £50,000.

The company has three main plants in Harlow, Mitcham and Southend and employs about 160 staff - who are all likely to be made redundant.

Anstee told Accountancy Age he had refused his wage for the last six months as it "didn't feel right" to take payment while the company was struggling.

Last year he pumped his own money into the business to pay "staff costs", which he thought would be a temporary measure to ensure cash flow.

Anstee said he was "disappointed" and that the administration was a "great shame".

"I can't stress enough that this is symptomatic of bad financing from the bank.

"This is a direct result where banks are deleveraging and that is going to cause stress on businesses, particularly the SME market," he added.

Anstee said the company wasn't helped by its financiers and was rather typical of a SME being squeezed by banks and similiar institutions.

One of the main reasons for Blue Printing's demise is due to the acquisition of its Mitcham plant last year. The management bought it from Aldridge Print Group - which entered administration.

The management of Blue Printing failed to realise how badly that plant was performing at the time of the purchase, said Anstee.

Due diligence had to be undertaken quickly, as in many administrations, or risk losing the purchase to another bidder, he added.

The business was in a worse condition than initially thought, he said.

Anstee, who represented a group of shareholders at Blue Printing, stepped down as non-executive on 23 January this year.

Under insolvency rules, directors can be liable for company debts if found responsible in part for a business' collapse.

Anstee served as chief executive of the ICAEW from 2003 to 2006.

 Update:

"Blue Printing struggled to find its footing after the ill-fated acquisition of the Mitcham facility from Aldridge Printing Group, which came with hidden costs and failed to perform as expected," said joint administrator Tony Murphy.

"Over-ambitious expansion plans left the Essex printing firm struggling with cash flow, unable to pay its tax bill or repay the high borrowings prompted by the acquisition in the first place," he added.

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