Newton Aycliffe-based HPM&ADDO, which was formed earlier this year when 125-year-old HPM and Darlington-based Addo entered a working partnership, fell into administration on Friday.
HPM had endured years of decline amid tough conditions in the sector but looked to have turned a corner when Addo agreed to join forces with it and relocate to Newton Aycliffe in March this year.
Addo had close links to the firm, with a number of its 10-strong team formerly working for HPM, and it was hoped that teaming up would create a stronger business with a brighter future.
Although the businesses did not formally merge, they brought their operations together under one roof to help inject more revenue into HPM.
However, with HPM still reeling from a number of major contract losses – including its longstanding deal to produce Middlesbrough FC’s match day programmes – its turnaround proved an impossible task.
On Friday administrators were called into HPM and the business looked certain to close, with the unfortunate loss of 42 jobs. Previous efforts to find a funder to assume control of HPM’s banking facilities had been fruitless.
But, managing director and former Addo boss Keiran Bayley found a last minute solution by securing the finance needed to enable Addo to acquire the assets of HPM.
The move saved 30 jobs across the group and has put the business on a strong foothold for recovery and growth.
Bayley said: “When we found out HPM were in trouble earlier in the year we felt if we put both operations under one roof we could turn the business around and save all the jobs in jeopardy.
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t shake off HPM’s struggles and, with significant pressure from the bank, it eventually meant the end of what was a print company with real heritage.
“Unfortunately the business model for staffing levels in relation to turnover simply didn’t stack up. Ultimately we were faced with the difficult choice of making 12 redundancies or 42.
“We could spend an eternity looking back and picking the bones out of what could have been but the pure fact is there is a print business in Newton Aycliffe with 30 employees that wants to look to the future, grow, invest and contribute to what is a wonderful region.”
HPM was saved from the brink of closure in the late 1990s by then director Richard Mortimer, who built it into what was at one point a thriving success.
He ran the business up until the end of September when he officially retired and has declined to comment about the company’s latest milestone.
Reflecting on the changing fortunes of the business, Bayley said: “Print was a lot easier 10 years ago, but those who have adapted best to the changing market conditions have great businesses now. Those who didn’t are no longer here. It really is that simple.”
Addo was launched in 2008 from a small unit in Darlington after Bayley re-mortgaged his house and quickly developed a strong, UK-wide customer base.