Bosses are ‘in hiding’ says Unite
A union has criticised bosses of Henry Stones following the closure, saying staff still don’t know if they will be paid.
Stones Ashford, formed after the takeover of Headley Brothers, closed for good shortly after 3pm on Friday, November 17.
It is understood the business in Queens Road had an unpaid electricity bill totalling tens of thousands of pounds.
The union Unite accused Henry Stones bosses of going into hiding after the closure “leaving the workforce in limbo not knowing whether the future means a new owner or the firm going into administration”.
The company has remained tight-lipped, despite repeated requests for a comment by the Kentish Express.
Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone has called for guarantees staff will be paid, saying: “Loyal workers at Stones Ashford face an uncertain Christmas thanks to the contemptible behaviour of Henry Stone Printers.
“Bosses should be under no illusion that Unite will use every tool at its disposal to ensure the Stones Ashford workforce get their hard-earned wages and are treated with respect.”
One member of staff said: “Everyone went into work as normal but we were called in for a meeting. The power went off and the place went into darkness.
“We were told not to come back. The firm has been going since the 1800s and the people working there were lifers, but they [the management] were unrepentant about closing.
“There was a lot of loyalty there and people had worked there for decades. It was not just a job, they were proud to work there.”
It is understood letters have been sent to suppliers and clients about the sudden closure.
Speaking when Stones Ashford was formed, managing director Richard Walsh said of Headley Brothers: “It has always been a well-established company and a key player in the print industry.
“It has the potential to grow back into a good business again. It needs a period of stability and strong management which can drive it forward again.”
Headley Brothers was founded in 1881 by brothers Herbert and Burgess Headley to print paper bags, bill heads and circulars for Ashford businesses. It was such a success the brothers decided to launch a newspaper, releasing the Kent Examiner & Ashford Chronicle with Barham Boorman, who was also founder of the Kent Messenger.