Sands Print Group sold to BPA Print Group and TIC Group

The collapsed company’s customer list went to the fellow Melbourne book printer, while TIC Group bought the pick-and-pack business.

Sands Print’s co-administrator, Petr Vrsecky from Lawler Draper Dillon, told ProPrint the rest of the failed company would almost certainly be liquidated at the second creditors’ meeting, due to be held by 18 June.

However, he added that the company would be informally wound up four days earlier with an auction of the plant and equipment.

Vrsecky said investigations were continuing, but that it was likely Sands’ directors had not been guilty of insolvent trading.

He said Sands Print had traded at a loss before entering administration on 4 April, but the directors appeared to have held a reasonable belief of being able to pay all their debts.

However, it now “looks like an absolute certainty” the unsecured creditors won’t get any money back.

Vrsecky said he expected about 10 of Sands’ 80 employees to move to BPA and TIC Group, with the rest headed for redundancy.

He told ProPrint the administrators would do their best to share recovered debts with employees so they would continue to receive steady incomes. Help would also be provided to apply for the Federal government’s General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme.

Both Docklands Press and Finsbury Green revealed they had been in the frame to acquire Sands, but Docklands withdrew before the 21 May deadline and Finsbury’s bid was unsuccessful.

Word was then sent out that Sands Print would be liquidated unless last-minute bids arrived, which prompted BPA Print and TIC Group to step forward, said Vrsecky.

Docklands Press managing director Abbey Abou Ghattas told ProPrint his company would only have bought Sands Print’s customer list, although he wouldn’t reveal why Docklands had pulled out of the bidding process.

Finsbury Green managing director Peter Orel said his company had wanted to acquire the whole of Sands Print because of its client base.

Vrsecky said the administration had been less successful than Lawler Draper Dillon had expected.

He had hoped for an earlier and more complete sale of Sands Print in order to generate more money for the creditors and also for more employees to be retained.

However, he said prospective buyers had strung the administrators along – and with Sands Print losing money each day, that had resulted in less of a return.

“It’s frustrating because we want[ed] to get on with it, but on the other hand you don’t want to walk away if there’s any potential of offloading something at a good price,” he said.

A Sands Print employee told ProPrint that emplyees were more concerned about paying their bills than the demise of a 150-year old company.

He also said he was worried about the ability of longer-serving employees to find new jobs – such as one person who had been at Sands Print for 35 years and never had another job.

“No one considers this to be the end of an era or anything like that,” he said.

“Everyone is accepting it. We’ve had a long time to prepare for it and we’re accepting that it’s all going to fall over.”

Sands Print managing director Mannie Stub could not be reached for comment. ProPrint was also unable to reach senior management at BPA Print and TIC Group.

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