The following release was received from Ilford. While a bit breathless, it
shows the enthusiasm and effort involved in keeping the company afloat. I did
edit somewhat for length. --gs
After some four months of highly geared activity following the announcements
in February this year that ILFORD had been saved from total annihilation, the
newly emerged organization is now able to draw breath and assess its current
It was due to the swift and timely action of six of ILFORD Imaging's management
team - at some considerable personal financial risk to themselves - that the
UK-based company which headed the international group avoided being split up,
asset stripped, or otherwise totally lost. Via a cleverly constructed operation,
the liquidators were able to sell off the considerable areas of land at the
company's plant in Mobberly, Cheshire, to an investment company on the basis
that the plant would remain, thereby enabling the rest of the business to fall
within the capabilities of the team.
What amounted to something of a coup in the face of determined interest expressed
by 21 potential suitors which pursued the company through its most vulnerable
stages saw the team able to provide a more attractive solution to the liquidator.
This included not only satisfying the demands of the liquidation, but also ensuring
the continuation of a business which, over its 125-year history, had established
itself as the leading monochrome specialist.
Having had the deal and the buyout accepted to much acclaim, the team then had
to get the company fully on track: manufacturing processes operating, stocks
up to appropriate levels, sales, marketing and distribution fully functioning,
staffing organized and relations with both the company's overseas distributors
and its worldwide customers being re-established on a progressive basis. "It
has been a pretty hectic four months," states chairman and managing director
Phil Harris, "but we now have the company on a strong basis and ready
to take on the world in our endeavors to revitalize the ILFORD name."
ILFORD Photo is the trading name of HARMAN technology Ltd, the company under
which the new enterprise trades, and is the brand which will be used for all
monochrome products - film, paper and photochemistry. The HARMAN brand (drawn
from the name of ILFORD's founder in 1879, Alfred Harman) will be applied to
other aspects of the company's business, such as thin-layer film and paper coating
for the medical sector, as it becomes further organized.
The distributors in USA, France, Benelux, Switzerland and Australia are no longer
subsidiaries of ILFORD UK, but since their former parent company's crash, they
have re-organized themselves, mostly as independent companies, and will continue
handling the supply of ILFORD Photo products to their respective markets, as
do the many other companies which make up the global network of suppliers. The
ILFORD digital products manufacturing base in Switzerland is still involved
in discussions concerning its future.
HARMAN technology/ILFORD Photo now stands totally independent of any corporate
ties to the erstwhile group, and is concentrating on what it knows best, and
to which it is totally committed - black-and-white photography.
"Black-and-white analogue photography is the platform to which we are
all dedicated," explains Howard Hopwood, HARMAN/ILFORD Photo's marketing
and business development director. "Quite frankly, the rebirth of ILFORD
as a brand concentrating on this genre could not have been better timed.
"The world imaging market has been jumping through all kinds of hoops
over the last few years as it has come to terms with digital processes, just
as much as it has with the progress of color photography. Having done that,
and turned full circle back to its roots, those who really care about expressive
photography, and about preserving images in all their beauty, still acknowledge
that black-and-white is the one true medium.
It is this dedication to black-and-white, shared by Harris and Hopwood with
their fellow HARMAN technology directors: Andy Taylor (Finance Director), Steven
Brierley (Sales Director UK, USA and Australia), Simon Galley (Sales Director
European and Export Markets), and Peter Elton (Operations Director), which provides
the catalyst for the company's determined and carefully formulated assault on
the global market.
Nearly 400 people are now employed at Mobberly, with technology and production
capability up to full capacity. Eighty-five per cent of output is being exported,
and global distribution channels are all open. The management is in place and
fully functioning, as are all sales departments and personnel.
In view of the uncertainty that has existed in the worldwide monochrome consumables
field recently, especially regarding availability of black-and-white paper,
ILFORD Photo's relaunch of its comprehensive range of top quality products,
which includes a variety of black-and-white paper types, and the company's assurances
of continued future manufacture, are especially timely for the many enthusiasts
and professional photographers concerned about future supplies.
"In spite of being so busy over these months," comments Harris,
"the process has been cathartic, and great fun. Having structured the
company into a fully operational organization, we now look forward to facing
the challenge in all our marketplaces. If the extremely positive reaction we
have received so far is anything by which to judge, we can expect to be in a
very solid position very quickly."