• Happier times: Andrew Cester
    Happier times: Andrew Cester

Collapsed trade and commercial printer Whirlwind went down with debts of $7m, with employees and paper merchants, or their insurers, taking the biggest hits.

Whirlwind has little in the way of cash or assets, its equipment was sold in bank-authorised deal prior to its collapse, and its outstanding invoices are mainly factored, meaning at most only 20 per cent of the value will come back to the liquidator.

Apart from staff entitlements, Whirlwind's Victoria operation went down with $3.4m owed to creditors, while the NSW business, originally Lindsay Yates that Whirlwind bought in October 2017 and cited as one of the main causes of the collapse, owes $1.4m to its suppliers.

Staff entitlements outstanding are the biggest creditor, with $2.39m owed to the 120 staff, a figure which is likely to be picked up by the taxpayer through the government's Fegs scheme. One employee is owed $78,000.

Direct Paper is in for $1.3m, while fellow merchant Ball & Doggett is owed $1.25m. They will be insured, but the paper industry is increasingly concerned about getting insurance, given the significant hits insurers have taken around the country. In Perth the insurers of paper merchants who supplied Picton Press are looking at getting between 1c and 2c in the dollar for their debts under the company's controversial Deed of Company Arrangement, meaning a $500,000 debt will see at most $10,000 recovered.

If insurers withdraw it may well mean printers being asked to pay COD for paper, or 14 days, or at most having 30 day terms, any of which would likely impact the cash flow of many businesses.

Anong other Whirlwind creditors, Agfa is owed $270,000, Print & Pack $130,000, Jet Technologies $100,000, Express Envelopes $80,000, Neopost $55,000 and DIC $50,000.

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