No buyer for Harland Simon yet; £5m shortfall flagged

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Staff and creditors of UK-based control systems company Harland Simon are likely to be almost £5 million (A$8.75 million) out of pocket following the company's collapse last month.

A virtual meeting on Friday will review proposals and other formalities, but creditors were told earlier this month of the shortfall, mostly made up of employee claims.

While quoted French identification solutions company Paragon ID has picked up the company's "highly-regarded" healthcare asset management solution RFID Discovery for £30,000 cash, a buyer had not been found for its print automation and software businesses at the time of the report. Creditors have been told there were "a few" parties interested in buying the printing software, and one for the IPR/goodwill/stock of the print division.

Among creditors are conference organisers ASEAN Newspaper Printers and Ifra, and MPC Media, publisher of GXpress.

Harland Simon's problems appear to have arisen from increased competition. It made a loss of £72,000 in 2017 (the first since 2013) and lost a £500,000 order to a rival. Cash began to run out after turnover fell £1.5 million (to £4 million) in the last 12 months.

Administrators Trevor Binyon and Timothy Dolder of Opus Restructuring estimated that a little over £260,000 would be available for distribution to preferential creditors, but estimated a total deficiency of almost £5 million. Costs associated with the administration are expected to be more than £87,000.

Established in 1992, the company had provided tracking and automation systems for newspaper printers, also developing its RFID and tracking expertise for the healthcare market with the UK National Health Service trusts among customers. The Discovery software is used to tag a variety of mobile assets including infusion pumps, syringe drivers, scanners and monitors.

Harland Simon had 38 staff including 20 engineers, most of whom lost their jobs with the collapse; five staff from the RFID business have been transferred to Paragon.

Pictured above: Harland Simon Tweeted this picture of systems being prepared for installation at a US client in June; and (top) the new control console launched last year

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