Joseph Pickering – the end of an era

Historic Sheffield firm forced to pack up after 185 years
Joseph Pickering and Sons packing company
Published Date: 11 February 2009, By Sarah Dunn, The Star
Original article
IT WAS founded before the Industrial Revolution changed the face of British manufacturing forever, and has been witness to the reigns of eight monarchs.
It has survived two World Wars, the Wall Street Crash, the three-day week of 1974, and the dark days of the recessions of 1980 and 1992.
But now, after 185 years trading, Joseph Pickering and Sons packaging company in Little London Road, Sheffield, has gone bust – another victim of the credit crunch sweeping Britain.
The business was founded in 1824, originally as a polishing firm set up by Joseph Pickering.
Over the years the company diversified into packaging, ending its life as manufacturer of items such as cases, cartons, flatpacks and corrugated boxes.

The news has spelt the end of the road for the company’s 42 employees – the cause of enormous frustration for managing director Robin Batchelor.
He said the firm was still viable and should have been able to survive the current climate, with a busy order book right up until its last week of trading.
But he said the actions of its invoice discounting service GE Capital Finance – the company which loaned Pickerings 90 per cent of the value of its invoices while they were being turned around by the buyer – had led to it being unable to pay off its creditors.
Mr Batchelor said: “Basically since November the company has been strangling us of cash. The decision has been forced upon us by our funders.
“I feel very angry and frustrated – the company is a profitable one and even in today’s climate it should have continued. If they had supported us instead of going against us we would have got through.”
He said the struggle to pay off GE Capital’s loans, plus two considerable ‘bad debts’ from firms who had not paid for their products, meant the only option left with was to wind up the company to pay off its creditors.
Mr Batchelor added: “We have lost financial control of the business. I feel very embittered about it – I think it’s scandalous.”
One woman, whose 21-year-old son had been employed on the factory production line since leaving school, backed up Mr Batchelor’s assertions that the firm was still doing well.
She said: “What my son can’t understand is they’re really busy – the overtime has dried up recently but there’s still plenty of work.”
But a spokesman for GE Capital Finance disputed the allegations – saying it had worked with Pickerings to try to resolve the situation over a number of months.
In a statement, he said: “A business failing is always regrettable and never the desired outcome for a lender.
“We supported the management team at Joseph Pickering for a number of months whilst they explored alternative business strategies.
“Unfortunately, the management ultimately decided this was their only option in the face of a worsening trading environment. Despite the current climate, GE remains committed to supporting our clients and to extending new facilities.”
The mum of the former Pickerings employee said she was now very worried about her son’s situation.
“It’s really sad because Pickerings has been there years and my son has worked there since leaving school,” she said. “Last year he was doing so well – he was doing 12-hour days, six days a week.
“He decided to buy a house because that’s what everyone says – get your foot on the property ladder. But now he doesn’t know how he’s going to pay the mortgage, and we’re scared he’s going to end up with the house taken off him.”
The woman added that although her son was now looking for a new job and “would take anything”, she was worried about the lack of available work in the current climate.
“That work is all he’s ever known,” she added.

Pickering works

Pickering works

Historic Joseph Pickering ceases trading after 185 years
Liz Wells,, 10 February 2009
Long standing corrugated packaging manufacturer Joseph Pickering & Sons has fallen into administration. The South Yorkshire-based company, which was established in 1824 to manufacture polishes but later diversified into packaging, ceased trading on 30 January.
A spokeswoman for the company’s administrators KPMG told Packaging News that a majority of the company’s 40 employees had been made redundant and it was in the process of selling off the company’s assets.
Joseph Pickering & Sons produced corrugated packaging, die-cut packs, cases and cartons from its 4,185sqm site in Sheffield.

Joseph Pickering brought down by debts
Liz Wells,, 12 February 2009
The downfall of historic corrugated packaging manufacturer Joseph Pickering & Sons was caused by bad debts, administrator KPMG has revealed.
A spokesperson for the administrator told Packaging News: “The administration was caused in part by the insolvency of associated company Red Rose Packaging, which was a debtor of Joseph Pickering and left the business with bad debts.
“This was in addition to a rise in costs and a fall in sales that hit Joseph Pickering’s cashflow.”
Red Rose Packaging went into administration in October, while another company in the same group, Swift Packaging was dissolved in June.
South Yorkshire-based Joseph Pickering & Sons, which was established in 1824, ceased trading on 30 January.
A majority of its 40 employees have been made redundant and the company’s administrators are in the process of selling off its plant and machinery. It has appointed Fox Lloyd Jones as the agent to handle the sale.

Business blooming after administration, says Red Rose
Liz Wells,, 13 February 2009
The new owner of Red Rose Packaging has hit back at comments made by the administrators of Joseph Pickering & Sons, which suggested Red Rose was partly to blame for the 185-year-old firm’s failure.
A spokesperson for Joseph Pickering & Sons’ administrator KPMG yesterday said the administration was caused “in part” by the insolvency of associated company Red Rose Packaging, which left the business with bad debts. The companies had shared common ownership.
However, Red Rose Packaging’s new owner John Walters, who started the company in 1985 before selling it in 2004, told Packaging News that its debt only made up 15% of the £1.2m debt that Joseph Pickering & Sons had racked up.
“The administrators painted Red Rose in a bad light. The company’s failure was down to bad management; it’s got nothing to do with the staff here,” Walters said.
“We’ve got a very positive story to tell – we’re turning the business around. We’re getting orders back from old customers and winning new business, and our old suppliers are also coming back to us too.”
Walters bought the Stockport-based company out of administration in October and managed to keep on all 25 staff.
The company was renamed Newby Packaging but continues to trade as Red Rose Packaging.

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of creditors of the above company is to be held at KPMG LLP, 1 The Embankment, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4DW on 23 March 2009 at 1.00 pm to consider the Administrators’ proposals under Paragraph 49 and 51 of Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and to consider establishing a creditors’ committee. A creditor will be entitled to vote only if a written statement of claim is given to me at KPMG LLP, 1 The Embankment, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4DW not later later than 12.00 noon on 20 March 2009 and if the claim is admitted for voting purposes. Any proxies that are intended to be used must be submitted to me by the date of the meeting. A company may vote either by proxy or through a representative appointed by board resolution.
M Firmin, Joint Administrator
04 March 2009. (756304)