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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Famous film maker put up for sale
Digital camera
The advent of digital cameras has hit traditional film makers
Ilford Imaging, the world's biggest black and white film maker, is up for sale after going into administration.

The 125 year old firm, which began life in Ilford, Essex, has struggled after building up debts of more than 40m.

Administrators are to seek a buyer for Ilford's film making division, which employs 740 staff in Cheshire, but warned that job losses were inevitable.

Ilford, which also owns a profitable Swiss business, has been hit hard by the popularity of digital cameras.

Redundancies inevitable

Accountants Grant Thornton have been brought in to restructure the UK business and sell the entire company.

The firm could be sold as a single entity or split up.

Ilford's Swiss arm, which supplies dyes for inkjet photo printers, is profitable and will continue trading normally.

Ilford's film making business, based near Knutsford, Cheshire, could close unless a buyer is found.

"We have control over the business and in due course we will be marketing it for sale," said Mark Byers, head of recovery and reorganisation services at Grant Thornton.

Grant Thornton added that job losses at the UK business were inevitable but declined to comment on the likely scale of redundancies pending a review of its operations.

Digital pressures

Ilford is owned by UK venture capital firm Doughty Hanson, which bought the business in 1997 for 70.3m.

Ilford has a 60% share of global black and white film sales. But sales have fallen by an average of 11% over the last three years.

Ilford is the latest film maker to face financial problems as a result of the boom in digitally operated cameras.

Eastman Kodak is cutting 15,000 jobs over the next three years while Belgium's Agfa Gevaert recently sold its consumer business to management.

Ilford Imaging's history can be traced to the basement of a house in Ilford where Alfred Harman began producing Gelatin Dry Pictures in 1879.

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