Former Pageset partner buys firm

A former Pageset shareholder has acquired the liquidated firm and employed ex-owner John Della in a sales role.

The Melbourne pre-press house was liquidated on 28 June. According to a report from liquidator Leonard Milner of Venn Milner & Co, Pageset collapsed with debts of more than $2 million.

The Report as to Affairs, dated 4 July, showed that Pageset owed $1 million to its 38 staff, who ranked as priority creditors.

Pageset also owed $2.1 million to unsecured creditors, including $746,000 to Heidelberg, $592,000 to the Australian Taxation Office, $352,000 to Yvonne Della and $90,000 to Della Property Investments. Pageset also owed an unknown amount to the secured creditor, National Australia Bank.

Its assets included a $1 million debtor book and $646,000 of plant and equipment.

Milner declined to comment, so it is unclear what sort of return creditors can expect.

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The new owner, Geoff Pearce, told ProPrint he had paid more than $300,000 to acquire "all the unencumbered assets" of Pageset.

He said that included the company name, customer list, some machinery and some software, although not the debt. The assets have been placed in a new company called Pageset Australia.

Pearce was a former partner in the old Pageset until his shareholding was acquired by John Della in 2004. He is managing director of a pharmaceutical packaging wholesaler, The Continental Group, and also owns a beauty products manufacturer, Beautiworx Australia.

Pearce said he had kept an eye on Pageset after selling out and felt it could be run successfully as a "scaled-down" operation.

"It was a shame to see what was once a proud and significant business fall on hard times. I believe that the passion and commitment of the staff and the loyalty and support of the customers made it appropriate to look at whether something could be saved."

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Pearce said he would focus on Pageset's core strength as a pre-press supplier and discontinue the parts of the business that weren't viable, like its large-format operation.

He told ProPrint he was currently trying to retain as many clients as possible and working out the structure of the new company. He added that he hoped to retain more than 20 staff.

Pearce also said he had taken out a short-term lease on Pageset's Mt Waverley premises and that the new company might move to a smaller site.

Former managing director John Della, who has joined the new company in a sales role, told ProPrint he was glad Pearce had been able to save jobs.

"I'm happy that a lot of the staff have been maintained. Most of the customers have been absolutely fantastic, which makes it slightly easier from a sales role," he said.

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