Bosses are ‘in hid­ing’ says Unite

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Closure Sadness - By Chris Price

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.

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