Ilford Imaging brings in the administrators as profits fall

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ilford Imaging, the world's largest producer of black-and-white photographic materials, has been placed into administration, after a sharper-than-expected decline in its core business over the past seven months threw the company into crisis.

Ilford Imaging, the world's largest producer of black-and-white photographic materials, has been placed into administration, after a sharper-than-expected decline in its core business over the past seven months threw the company into crisis.

The accountancy giant Grant Thornton has been appointed to assess the company's options, which include selling its traditional photographic business as a going concern. Based in Mobberley in Cheshire, Ilford employs some 740 people in the UK, and has one of the oldest and most established brands in the UK photographic market, founded back in 1879.

Demand for black-and-white photographic materials, which accounts for the majority of its business, has slumped, forcing the company to attempt to shift the focus of its production. Global sales of black-and-white photographic materials fell by 11 per cent a year in the three years up to the end of 2003. Since the start of 2004, they have fallen a further 26 per cent.

While Ilford has a growing and profitable inkjet digital arm, employing 450 people in Switzerland, it has been unable to grow this side of its business quick enough to compensate. Ilford is owned by Doughty Hanson, a private equity group, which bought the company from International Paper five years ago for £85m. Since then, the group has increased overall turnover by just 28 per cent to £128m, and Doughty Hanson's plans to float the company were put on hold.

Grant Thornton said after carrying out an initial review, it had been able to reassure Ilford's 740 UK staff that their pensions were safe. However, it said that there may be some pension issues for staff based outside of the UK.

Mike Byers, the head of recovery and reorganisation services at Grant Thornton, who is heading up the Ilford review, said: "The company recognised that its core market was declining and that it needed to transfer into new digital business. And it's doing that quite well. But it has not been able to make the transfer as quickly as the decline in its photographic business."

Mr Byers said that a sale of the UK business or restructure would help to maintain some of the group's workers, but he said it was too early to say just how many people were likely to lose their jobs.

Comments