Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 17:24 UK

Hope fades for printing firm jobs

Printers and their families marched through the town in protest last month

A rescue plan for almost 300 jobs at Somerset printer Butler and Tanner looks increasingly unlikely after news its machinery is to be auctioned.

Workers in Frome had hopes raised when a possible management buy-out (MBO) by former directors was suggested.

But administrator Peter Kubik said he was "not confident" the team had sufficient funding.

"I have a minimum value for the assets and the MBO team have not reached that figure," he said.

Machinery at the factory is now scheduled to be sold-off by an online auction on 24 and 25 June.

'Rising cost'

Mr Kubik told BBC News the cost to buy the business and its assets would rise daily due to the costs of running the company in administration.

In April employees at Butler and Tanner were told not to go to work because the company had gone into a Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation (CVA).

Staff were sent redundancy notices and arrangements were made for them to collect their personal belongings.

Butler and Tanner chairman, Mike Dolan, said parent company Media and Print Investments plc (MPI) withdrew support for the business, which has annual sales of 35m, after unions announced strike plans.

At the time employees were owed nearly 400,000 in wages and pensions contributions.

It is believed April's pension contributions were not passed on by the company but the existing assets of the pension fund have been protected.

Union members picketed the factory gates and held a protest march over the redundancies.

A Unite spokeswoman said members were "absolutely outraged and in a state of shock".

'Very realistic'

Butler and Tanner was put into administration and Mr Kubik from administrators UHY Hacker Young was appointed to assess whether there was a business for sale or whether it would need to realise the company assets.

Then in May a group of former directors launched a bid for the company.

At the time, Kevin Sarney, leading the consortium, said it was confident it could come up with a plan and finance to save the factory.

He said the group had a business plan that was "very realistic".

It was not possible to contact Mr Sarney for comment on Friday afternoon.

Butler and Tanner produces hardback colour books including those of Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson.

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13 May 08 |  Somerset
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29 Apr 08 |  Somerset
Sacked printers fight redundancy
27 Apr 08 |  Somerset
Hundreds of print staff lose jobs
26 Apr 08 |  Somerset

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