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Ex Craft owner’s Skins co bankrupted

Wednesday, 13 February 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Skins a pacesetter but now bankrupted: Jaimie Fuller

Jaimie Fuller, brother of David Fuller, who with his father Robert Fuller owned Craft Printing in Sydney in the 1990s, before it sank under mounting debts, has seen his global Skins compression sportswear business go into bankruptcy today, under the weight of its own ongoing debts.

Skins was the innovate sportswear brand that Fuller bought into in 2002 after the Craft business was sold to IPMG. In its day Skins was a major player, it sponsored the USA Cycling team during the London Olympics. It operates in 30 countries and sells 100,000 items each month.

Craft was a sheetfed and heatset web printer, its debts were largely incurred by an expensive move from its original Enfield base into a new Homebush facility, compounded by Fuller buying a second-hand Nebiola heatset web press out of Italy to run alongside its Harris M-110. The investment in the Nebiola raised plenty of eyebrows at the time, and its subsequent performance was in line with those unfavourable predictions.

IPMG kept Craft going for a decade after buying it, but closed it in 2012 with the loss of 46 jobs when it determined it was ‘no longer viable’ to keep printing there.

Jaimie is the brother of David Fuller, who rose to fame as the owner of environmental print pioneer Focus Press, then became even more famous in print for building a new $12m greenfield security printing factory in Wollongong with $6.1m of government money – which came from a pool to fund new job creation in the former steel town – only for the new security plant to go broke and close down within weeks of opening. The entire $30m Focus operation then came crashing down, with Mark Shergill eventually emerging from a busy field and buying bits of it.

In a fullsome explanation for the woes at Skins – which was put into bankruptcy by a Swiss court – Jaimie Fuller blamed the 2008 global financial crisis, saying that his borrowing decisions at the time to keep the company going were flawed.

He said, “What has brought us to this point really started 11 years ago. When the global financial crisis (GFC) hit in 2008, I sold a portion of Skins to a private equity firm. I also made a lousy deal. When the GFC was over, I had to get out of the private equity arrangement. To do so, we borrowed heavily, and with the help of a Japanese partner we managed to buy out the private equity shareholders. To my enormous regret, those borrowings have become unsustainable and while we have been working for some time now to try to avoid what is happening today, in the end there was no choice.”

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