Printer collapses after merger talks fail

Sydney wide format printer TPS Venture is in liquidation following a failed merger attempt with larger rival The Printcentre in June.

Liquidators at SV Partners say the company collapsed with debts of more than $533,000 due to cashflow problems while former director Kevin McClure was taking some time off.

The Printcentre director John Doyle says as TPS had been operating out of borrowed space at The Printcentre for some time, the two companies were in talks to merge after TPS ran into trouble.

However, he and co-director Darren Soppi decided not to go ahead with the deal because they did not think they could work with McClure.

Doyle says they then offered to buy out TPS business from McClure and take care of his creditors and employees, but McClure abruptly put the company into liquidation instead, leaving creditors and employees out of pocket.

“It’s the worst thing he could have done for the business, himself and everyone else involved,” Doyle says.

“We did not know he had done it until the liquidator showed up at the door.”

Doyle says he has managed to employ six of TPS’ nine staff at The Printcentre.

[Related: More companies in distress]

Liquidators say The Printcentre is a significant creditor of TPS but as the businesses owe each other money the debts largely cancel each other out.

Industry sources say the TPS and The Printcentre were earlier working together on Adshel business. The outdoor media company lists The Printcentre as its NSW and Victoria printer, along with GSP.

ProPrint contacted McClure weeks ago to get his side of the story, and though he initially agreed to talk, after asking for time to consult with his lawyers his phone number became disconnected.

McClure is now strategic operations manager at wide format printer Magnify Media. Doyle says “McClure now appears to be going after our clients and those from TPS.”

TPS and The Printcentre have had somewhat of a tangled web in Sydney with Printcentre director Soppi previously listed as ‘director/owner’ of billboard and signage printer Brite Solutions, which collapsed with debts of more than $2m in 2012.

TPS then bought the Brite client list for $11,000 and paid staff entitlements.

McClure also worked for Brite from September 2009 to December 2010, but after the August 2012 deal he stressed TPS and Brite were ‘totally separate entities’.

"There is no relationship other than I pick up some work from [The Printcentre]," he said.

In response to supplier queries, ProPrint would like to make clear that The Printcentre is, as far as we know, in good health and not in liquidation unlike TPS.

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