The Sessions name continues to trade in York after its labelling machinery divison was bought out by a York-based entrepreneur. See York-born entrepreneur buys machine division of Sessions of York for further information.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: ONE of York’s oldest businesses – the printers Sessions of York – has gone into administration, putting about 100 jobs at risk.

Directors blamed the worldwide recession for a devastating effect on sales, and the business had also been badly hit by the fall in the value of the pound against the Euro and a big deficit in the company’s pension scheme.

They said the pound’s fall had forced up paper prices by more than 30 per cent, and in a weak, highly competitive market, they had been unable to pass on the enormous cost increase to their customers.

Mark Sessions, chairman and managing director, said in a statement: “The consequence has been that our margins have been squeezed to a level which makes it impossible to continue trading.

“Furthermore the company carries the burden of a large deficit in a final salary pension scheme.

“We deeply regret the hardship that this will cause our employees and our creditors.”

They said the running of the company had been placed in the hands of administrators, the P & A Partnership.

“The business, which has a current turnover of circa £6 million, has three divisions – label printing, labelling machinery and commercial printing – is being offered for sale as a whole, or by division, through agents Charterfields.”

The Press understands shocked staff were sent home yesterday after being told the news, with executives told to leave their company cars behind.

York council leader Andrew Waller said he became aware of the news after workers started coming into the employment and learning advice service Future Prospects yesterday afternoon to seek assistance. He pledged the local authority would do whatever it could to help.

“It’s a shame for the individuals concerned and for a company which has operated in York for so many years,” he said.

Tory group leader Ian Gillies said: “I am very sorry about the demise of one of York’s oldest established businesses.”

York’s prospective Labour candidate Hugh Bayley said the news was a blow to York, coming so soon after the Jarvis job losses, but he hoped that the administrators would ensure the skills of staff at Sessions were not lost and find buyers for the business.

The move comes just under a year since The Press revealed that Mark Sessions, was putting the business up for sale, ending a dynasty stretching back almost 200 years, because he was considering retirement and none of his four children wanted to be involved in the business.


Company’s York roots go back 200 years

THE business ancestry of William Sessions dates from 1811, when a Quaker, William Alexander, founded a bookselling and stationery shop at Castlegate, adding printing a couple of years later.

A replica of his shop, and of the original press, can be seen today in York’s Castle Museum.

From 1839 to 1865 the company was owned by four other Quaker businessmen, before being bought by William Sessions, a 22-year-old Quaker and grocer.

The business moved from Castlegate to Low Ousegate, then Coney Street.

In 1907 his son, also William, gave up the shop to concentrate entirely on printing, and moved to factory premises in North Street. During the First World War he sold grocery labels, confirming Sessions as a national label printing specialist, while expanding its printing and publishing activities. In 1920 the firm moved to its Huntington Road factory.

William Kaye Sessions, joined the business in 1938 and from 1947 self-adhesive labels strengthened its earlier specialism of label production. Millions of labels were produced for markets the world over.

In the 1960s a new machine division was established to design and manufacture labelling machines for customers worldwide. At that time the company employed 170 people.

William’s son Mark took over, but decided to sell when there was no family successor.

But all his plans came unstuck.