Dark Horse liquidated while Maverick opens, industry furious
Victorian print business Dark Horse Print & Design is in voluntary liquidation, while the owner's partner and mother of his children has opened up a new business, Maverick Print Group, leaving trade suppliers - and rival printers - up in arms.
Maverick was registered on June 19, five weeks before Dark Horse was put into liquidation by its owner Steve Roberts, at 4.55pm on Friday, citing a dispute with the landlord as the reason.
Dark Horse has already drawn up a contract of sale to sell the business to Maverick. However that contract has not yet been signed off by the liquidator.
Owner of the new Maverick company is Sorcha Hopmans, the fiancee of Roberts. She is also art director of Australian Trade Printers, which operated from the same premises as Dark Horse.
Speaking to Print21 Hopmans said, "Maverick is my business. I don't know anything about Dark Horse. We are not affiliated with them."
Almost all the equipment from Dark Horse has been moved into premises occupied by Maverick.
Debts at Dark Horse are as yet unknown but are substantial. All three major paper merchants are owed money, as are employees. A major equipment supplier is owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Employees will also form a major creditor group.
Maverick has begun operations in the old Longbeach Press building at 1 Rutherford Road, Seaford. Australian Trade Printers has also moved into that building, vacating the premises it shared with Dark Horse on the Nepean Highway in Mornington.
Equipment from Dark Horse, which was shared with Australian Trade Printers, has been moved into the Seaford building. However Hopmans said, "That's not right. I don't know anything about that. This is my business." Dark Horse ran both offset and digital printing.
The new one-month-old Maverick has a sophisticated website, with online chat, offering a range of products able to be ordered online, and which bear a similarity to the products offered by Dark Horse.
One of the suppliers spoken to by Print21 said, "It's b*llsh*t. The gall is amazing." Printers in Melbourne are also fuming, as they now have a new competitor to deal with, and one unencumbered with debts.
Like other print businesses in similar situations the success or failure of Maverick may ultimately depend on being able to source paper, and with the major merchants certain to say no - or risk the wrath of the industry - the owners will have to be creative. Ball & Doggett, Spicers and Direct Paper have all taken a hit from Dark Horse, and will not be supplying Maverick. It may also have queered the pitch of Australian Trade Printers, with the big three also likely to refuse supply there.
The liquidated Dark Horse was a player in the online print world, where success is dependent on buying Google ad spaces. Vistaprint is the dominant player, but there are other successful businesses operating there, including CMYK Colour Online (which is not related to trade printer CMYKhub).
Dark Horse was established in 2006 and had around 20 staff.
* Maverick Print Group has no connection with Mavericks Print in Canberra, a well-established large format sign and display printer.