Bankruptcy hits Morriss – Efforts to save printer fail and receiver will sell assets

Efforts earlier this year to streamline and strengthen the company do not appear to have worked as Morriss Printing Systems has filed for bankruptcy and a receiver is preparing to sell its assets.
Morriss, then doing business as Trafford Holdings, sold off its self-publishing division (Trafford Publishing) to an American self-publishing giant on April 3. It was hoped it would allow the company to focus on commercial printing and grow the business.
President and CEO Geoff Reid said then he expected they could grow quickly as the demise of large printing houses like Manning Press and Fleming Printing left a void in the market and drove business to Vancouver. “We estimate a huge amount of business, in the seven figures, is going to Vancouver,” he said at the time.
Reid could not be reached for comment yesterday, and calls to the receiver Hayes, McNeill and Partners were not returned.
According to the company’s statement of affairs, Morriss has liabilities of $3.93 million weighed against assets of $1.97 million.
Morriss has 141 unsecured creditors claiming $2.194 million, the largest of those being Xerox Canada at $1.007 million and Author Solutions — the company that bought Trafford Publishing — claiming $200,000. The smallest of the unsecured creditors is Canada Revenue Agency claiming $1.03.
There are four secured creditors seeking $1.55 million, the largest of those being G. Reid Holdings of Duncan with a claim of $1.1 million.
There are 85 preferred creditors, most of those former employees claiming for wages, totalling $182,351.
Trouble had been brewing for a while at the company as a letter to shareholders in the spring told a bleak tale.
In the letter, Reid pointed out the company’s lack of working capital made it impossible for management to implement the efficiencies needed to make the self-publishing division profitable.
Further along in that letter, Reid wrote: “Radical changes in our business plan were urgently required if Trafford was to avoid bankruptcy. The self-publishing business was bleeding money and our ability to staunch the flow was severely hampered by a lack of working capital.
“Early this year, it became clear to Trafford that it was time to make some hard choices.”
The result was to sell to the competition and focus on its other divisions — Rolex Plastics, which manufactures three-ring binders for the provincial government and other printed products and stationary for companies across North America and Morriss Printing, which has been operating since 1950.
The first meeting of Morriss’ creditors will be Monday at 10 a.m. at Charest Reporting, 912-1175 Douglas St.