By Harry Mottram: The print industry publication Print Week has reported on a second PFI subsidiary has hit the buffers. Reporter jo Francis wrote: “Another PFI Group company has gone into administration, while the trading status of a separate subsidiary is unclear. Administrators from FRP Advisory were appointed at Gardners NW Ltd on 17 November. PFI acquired Cardiff-based Gardners from Hexcite Group via a pre-pack in August 2022. The £100,000 deal was for Gardners’ stock and certain assets. It subsequently emerged that the wide-format print specialist went down owing creditors nearly £5.5m. PFI bought Gardners through PFI Bidco 1 Ltd, which was renamed Gardners NW Ltd afterwards.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM – the business group dedicated to preventing bad debts for the print industry – said it seemed like ‘a pack cards collapsing’ with first one subsidiary and then another as the debts became clear. He said ICSM that Gardners had seemingly ceased trading.

Jo Francis also reported on Service Graphics – also a PFI company that it had acquired Cestrian Imaging – taking on its order book and any assets on 17 November. There was more bad news for the PFI Group when the locks were changed at a firm they own in Scotland when Signmaster Kelso on the borders. A row has broken out as Print Week reported the administrators had complained they had been ‘lied to’ by the PFI CEO Darren McMurray – and had been blamed for closing the Kelso firm and making the staff redundant when they said it was McMurray who had instigated the closure since the sign firm was in administration.

The highly respected trade industry journalist continued: “It’s been a torrid year for Rymack Sign Solutions, which trades as PFI Group. The firm posted sales of £31.9m and an operating profit of nearly £2.5m for the period from 1 January 2021 to 30 December 2021. However, £4.2m in exceptional items related to its Futurama business propelled it to a bottom-line loss of £1.96m, compared to a profit of £1.43m in the prior period. Futurama went into administration in May, and PFI missed a payment deadline for its purchase of the Works Manchester business the same month. In August PFI’s Mardan Products business ceased trading as McMurray restructured the group into three divisions. Earlier this month PFI put three other Scottish sign operations into administration: Sign Plus and its divisions Lofthus Signs and Jasmine.”

Ian Carrotte said simply the whole thing was a mess and he feared for the suppliers of the PFI Group who could end up not being paid. He cautioned about dealing with any firm that appeared to be in meltdown.



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