Stanley Gibbons reorganizes to shed legacy debts
By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent
The British stamp dealer, auction house and philatelic publisher Stanley Gibbons announced Dec. 22, 2023, that it was going into administration in a preplanned deal with the worldwide accounting and auditing firm, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers.
The arrangement allowed Gibbons and its sister numismatic firm, A.H. Baldwin & Sons, to get out of a number of intractable debt situations that had been dragging down their finances for several years.
The entire organization, including all employees, brands and assets, as well as items on consignment for auction and storage, were immediately transferred to a newly formed company called Strand Collectibles Group.
Gibbons’ ultimate ownership remains the same: Phoenix Asset Management Partners, a holding company that is, in turn, owned by a number of investors.
The move appears to have been primarily an effort to extricate the company from older financial obligations. There was no loss to any of the firms’ philatelic or numismatic customers.
In an email statement, Tom Pickford, the CEO of Strand, wrote that “despite strong growth in auctions this year and new partnerships in publications, Stanley Gibbons Group has been unable to find a solution to its long-standing historic liabilities which includes legacy acquisitions, leases and debt.”
Pickford became the CEO in 2022, the same year Stanley Gibbons delisted its shares from the London Stock Exchange after a long slide in the share price.
The firm had shown several years of multimillion-pound losses, although it reported in its March 2022 annual report that philatelic operations had returned to profitability for the first time in several years.
In response to a query from Linn’s Stamp News, Victoria Lajer, the managing director for philately, said, “It’s a very positive step for SG. Business as usual.”
Gibbons had announced in October 2023 that it was transferring the production and distribution of its albums and accessories in a licensing deal to the firm of Dauwalders, based in Salisbury, southwest of London.
Dauwalders, a family-run firm that has been in business for some 60 years, also handles products from Davo, Lighthouse and Hawid.
Although Gibbons ceased publication in 2023 of the longtime stamp trade magazine the Philatelic Exporter, it continues to publish its award-winning, collector-oriented Gibbons Stamp Monthly as well as a range of authoritative catalogs for stamps of the whole world.
Online bidding is already underway for the first of two upcoming Gibbons stamp and postal history auctions, Stamps and covers of Asia on Jan. 10. The second part of the sale of the Phillips Collection of Great Britain stamps is slated for Jan. 16.
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