395 jobs face axe at troubled Bezier

AROUND 395 staff at a Yorkshire-based printing business are facing an uncertain future after the company went into administration.

After a “protracted period of economic decline”, the board of Bezier, the point-of-sale marketing services business, yesterday revealed that it had taken the “difficult decision” to put its Wakefield-headquartered printing business into administration. The company’s Leicester office will also close.

Where possible, Bezier has moved client accounts, and the staff who worked on them, to new suppliers. A spokesman said yesterday: “The downturn has accelerated a move by clients to cut their print budgets and, instead, move more into digital and social media, and despite the board working very hard to stabilise the company, the closure of the Wakefield site has been sadly unavoidable.

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“The board will now focus on developing its global brands division which is headquartered in Soho, London.”

Commenting on the announcement, James Buckley, the chief executive of Bezier, said: “It has been an incredibly tough trading climate for print manufacturing businesses as new forms of marketing replace more traditional forms of print media.

“In making this decision we had to take a view of what was best for the whole company going forward, and deeply regret the staff redundancies.

“This decision has not been made lightly and comes despite a series of stringent organisational changes designed to reduce costs. Unfortunately, the current situation has become unsustainable.

“We are extremely grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication and will do our upmost to support them through this transition.”

A spokesman for the administrators, Deloitte, said last night that he was unable to confirm how many of the 395 staff would be made redundant.

Mr Buckley, who was previously managing director of healthcare company Tunstall Group, was appointed chief executive in February last year.

At the same time, Adrian Lamb joined the company as group finance director. He was formerly chief executive of Optima Legal Services, a division of Capita Group.

In August 2011, Bezier secured backing from a major private equity firm to help it grow.

Bezier, which is one of Britain’s biggest providers of integrated point of sale marketing services, and HIG Europe, the European arm of global private equity firm HIG Capital, agreed the terms of a management-led buyout of the company.

In the financial year ended April 2011, the company achieved turnover of around £102m.

In March 2011, it was revealed that Bezier had lost a multi-million pound point of sale contract it held with Asda for 26 years.

The Walmart-owned supermarket chain awarded the contract to The Delta Group after an extensive retendering process. At the time, Bezier said the deal meant that 77 members of staff based in Leeds and Wakefield would be transferred to the successful bidder at new offices in Leeds under Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employees (TUPE) regulations.

Bezier Group was formed from a funded management buyout of the specialist printing division of WACE Group in May 1998 by Electra Holdings.

It has grown rapidly over the last decade.

In 2006, it acquired Poulters, one of the best known names in Yorkshire’s marketing and advertising industry. Bezier decided to close the Poulters operation in 2008, so it could make way for a new creative retail marketing comp- any.

Today, Bezier describes itself as “a UK-based provider of media solutions including point of purchase, ambient and outdoor advertising, marketing and promotional literature, and in-store theatre”.

Bezier’s blue chip customers include Argos, Boots, Apple and Unilever.

The company has delivered in-store marketing displays for the film Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.