In what is sad news for the industry, after 21 years of trading BrownTrout UK, the calendar and stationery company headed up by industry stalwart Jack Straw, is to cease trading and has entered the process of liquidation.
The Bristol-based company is a separate wholly owned UK subsidiary to the US-based BrownTrout Publishers Inc, the largest calendar publisher in the world. As well as its own huge collections of calendar and diaries, the UK company also distributed titles from Andrews McMeel Publishing and stationery from Graphique de France.
“It is sad and there is no good time to close a business, but at least this is the ‘cleanest’ time of the year to do it, before we take on any new potential debt,” Jack Straw, managing director and shareholder of BrownTrout UK told PG Buzz. He explained that there are a number of factors which have led to the business closure.
“After my illness last year (Jack suffered a bleed on the brain last March), the business tended to suffer and with the onset of the lockdown, and the dire economic landscape ahead, we were left with no alternative but to close down,” Jack explained.
After what was a poor trading year last year for the company, the loss of some sizable accounts (notably Wyevale), concerns about business margins which have been eroded due to SOR agreements and a less than sunny prognosis for the upcoming trading period “which then all crashed into the lockdown in March” Jack and the company’s majority owner, Mike Brown (ceo of BrownTrout Inc), agreed that it would cease trading this month.
“We’ve had a great adventure with BrownTrout UK and like to think we have played a part in helping to develop the calendar sector in the UK,” said Jack philosophically. “I would like to thank my team, many of whom have been with the company for many years as well as our customers who have supported us and our many friends in the industry,” he added.
While Jack says he is “not retiring”, he has no definite plans for his next step. “I have been in this industry since I was 22 years old and I am now 63. The future? Who knows!” he told PG Buzz.
The US parent company has made arrangements to ship BrownTrout calendar titles direct to major UK retailers, such as Calendar Club. Meanwhile, the distribution agreements BrownTrout UK had with Andrews McMeel Publishing and Graphique de France have reverted to those respective companies.