At least three suitors are understood to be considering bids for leading direct mail print firm Howard Hunt Group – which also owns data insight firm Celerity Information Services – amid claims that the firm is facing an uncertain future due to financial pressure from long-term lender Santander.
According to a report in Print Week, Paragon Group, Walstead Group and HH Global are among the firms which have shown an interest in all or part of the group, which also owns digital firm ORM and print management business Graft Solutions.
Howard Hunt chief executive Luke Pigott has also been linked with a possible bid for Celerity, which he co-founded with Jason Lark in 2002. According to Companies House, Martin Pigott is also a director of the data business, whose clients include Sky, Zurich, the National Trust, Ford, GWR, Honda, and Greene King.
Print Week cites the latest filings at Companies House, which it claims show that the firms in the group have a number of cross-guarantees relating to a financing facility of up to £18.5m with Santander. The facility includes trade finance, asset leasing, and a bank loan of £7m that was due to be repaid on May 4, the magazine claims.
Howard Hunt (City) filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator on May 8, which gives the business protection from any potential actions by creditors.
Howard Hunt’s website claims the company produces more than 600 million direct mailpacks a year, a billion door-drops and 3 billion inserts.
Its client list includes Tesco, M&S, John Lewis, Boden, Sky, Age UK, Next, Harrods and Cancer Research UK.
Last month, the company’s main site in Dartford, Kent, was hit by vandals who opened the valves on its bulk ink storage facility, causing a hazardous 5,000-litre ink leak (pictured).
Kent Fire & Rescue tweeted: “This isn’t Art Attack… this is what crews were presented with when attending a spillage of ink in Dartford. Firefighters worked to ensure ink didn’t go into drains and enter the watercourse. Protecting the environment is a key priority.”
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