Liquidated firm strives to find jobs for workers

2 Sep 2003

A CD manufacturer in Dublin that has entered into a provisional liquidation process has appealed to other technology firms that may have openings to take on as many of its 100 workers as possible in a variety of skilled areas ranging from IT and finance to cleanroom, printing and packaging.

At the height of the technology boom Saturn Fulfilment Services’ international business, which employed more than 100 people in CityWest, Dublin, had revenues exceeding €30m. Three years later, in May, revenues had fallen to €11.8m.

In mid-August the company’s local legal representatives told the High Court in Dublin that it could no longer meet its debts and Judge Eamon de Valera appointed a provisional liquidator from BDO Simpson Xavier, Liam Dowdall, whose responsibility would be to attempt to run the company and sell it as a going concern.

Earlier last month, Saturn’s parent company in Montreal deferred the release of its fiscal year 2003 figures until this month. “While a slight seasonal downturn was expected for the quarter ended May 31, many other factors added to the decline in demand for services provided by our Montreal and Ireland facilities,” said Saturn’s CEO George Hurlburt in a statement. In light of the results, Saturn is in default of certain covenants under a loan agreement with its principal Canadian bank. Around the same time two directors of the company tendered their resignations.

On the ground in Ireland, the job of the provisional liquidator will be to preserve the company’s corporate assets and hone the business into a situation where it could be sold as a going concern. Some 60pc of Saturn’s business is involved in the replication of CDs for customers, printing logos and packaging and shipping product to customers. The second element of the company’s business involved procuring material for customers and assembling orders.

However, yesterday, employees of Saturn in CityWest launched an appeal to employers on the campus and elsewhere with openings to consider members of the highly skilled workforce. The 100-strong workforce has skills covering sales, customer services, IT, finance, quality control, inventory management, cleanroom, technical, precision moulding, print preparation, packaging, warehousing, shipping and logistics expertise.

Saturn had built up a base of more than 140 customers, 15 of whom represented about 80pc of the firm’s revenue. The advent of the tech downturn resulted in financial trouble, with the firm experiencing difficulties in obtaining payment of up to €8m from debtors.

A weakening of Sterling against the euro and rising costs in the Irish economy resulted in customers going abroad to lower-cost economies. One of the company’s local customers, Symantec, ended its relationship with Saturn three weeks ago.

In an appeal a representative of the company called on companies that may have openings to consider the workforce that is about to enter the job market. “As an ISO 9001, 2000 registered our focus has always been on the customer’s requirements, but due to the present market conditions our company can no longer continue in Ireland,” the representative said.

By John Kennedy