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‘Significant disruption’ ahead as Polestar folds

Just a month after Polestar was acquired by Swedish investment firm Proventus in a pre-pack deal, the businesses Polestar UK Print and Polestar Stones-Wheatons have been placed into administration.

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Buyers are sought for Polestar UK Print and Polestar Stones-Wheaton

Polestar, the UK’s biggest independent print company, employs close to 1,500 member of staff in the UK and produces over 50 million printed products for magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Hello!, on a weekly basis,  as well as newspapers, books, and journals.

Polestar UK Print was created when Proventus renamed Prospect Bidco Limited to Polestar UK Print Limited in order to acquire the business and assets, following the appointment of administrators, an action that saved around 1,000 jobs. However, following the loss of its biggest client, Daily Mail publisher DMG Media, which decided not to renew its contract now that the company has changed hands, the business was subsequently unable to bridge its revenue to debt ratio.

Part of a statement on PwC’s website pertaining to the administration of the group reads: “Shortly after appointment, the business and certain of the Group’s assets were acquired by Polestar UK Print Limited, a new UK registered company set up with support from Proventus Capital Partners, which is the Group’s major shareholder.”

We believe that (...) up to £100 million of print would potentially have to be sourced from the Continent, with all the attendant exchange rate risks, higher transport costs, and longer lead times

In terms of seeking buyers for Polestar’s assets, owner of the Wyndeham Group Walstead has thrown its hat in the ring. The firm registered its interest with PwC and emphasised its interest in engaging as soon as possible with ‘key customer, trade suppliers, and equipment financiers to ensure that any potential transaction has their full backing and the best chance of succeeding’.

Mark Scanlon, Walstead chairman, says in a statement: “We foresee significant disruption to the gravure and web offset printing market if the Polestar assets were to permanently cease operating and this capacity was lost for good from the UK.

“We believe that in this scenario up to £100 million of print would potentially have to be sourced from the Continent, with all the attendant exchange rate risks, higher transport costs, and longer lead times. Advertising deadlines and publisher revenues would inevitably be impacted by these increased lead times at a time when print is already losing market share to digital media.

“In addition, there would be a significant negative impact on UK jobs. We are therefore exploring whether there are certain Polestar sites and jobs that can be saved, although in our view it is by no means certain that a viable solution can be achieved.”

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