World’s Largest Collectibles Publisher Latest to Fall Victim to Post-COVID Slump

Fans of comic book spin-off magazines and collectibles are mourning the news that Eaglemoss Ltd has filed for administration under the burden of massive post-pandemic debts.

In operation since 1975, Eaglemoss had grown into a leading specialist in licensed collectibles, producing, marketing and selling merchandise for cult film and TV series like Dr Who, Star Trek, Ghostbusters and DC Comics.

In particular, it is recognised as the world’s biggest name in so-called part works publishing -  a sub-category of the magazine industry that focuses on serialised, collectible publications with time-limited runs. Part works publications are often accompanied by free gifts for readers to collect. 

Best known in recent years for its Hero Collector range featuring figures and models of high profile sci-fi and comic book brands, Eaglemoss also covered an eclectic range of topics stretching from model making and coin collecting to knitwear and diorama making. Over the years, it wracked up more than 150 different collections sold from newsstands and via mail order in 30 countries around the world.

But with footfall through newsagents decimated during the COVID-19 pandemic, Eaglemoss’s business was hit hard. Posting an operating loss of close to £900,000 in 2019 even before the pandemic hit, by December 2020 that had soared to more than £10m on the back of a 36% decline in turnover.

Despite efforts to diversify their business, including moving into emerging digital collectibles like NFTs (a type of Blockchain-based one-off digital product), the situation has clearly not improved enough to steer the company out of insolvency.

Anxious wait for small creditors

While fans and collectors wonder if they will ever get to complete the latest collection they have been working on, for staff, freelance contributors and suppliers the concerns are more sobering. The company employed 110 people directly across six global offices, but also leant on a small army of freelance contributors to keep its publication titles moving. It’s known that many of those are still owed money from the stricken company.

Contractors and suppliers are always left in a difficult situation whenever a company enters administration. If you are still owed money, you face an anxious wait to see what the fate of the firm will be - whether the appointed Administrator believes the company can be restructured to continue as a viable going concern, whether a buyer can be sought, or whether a deal can be struck with creditors.

All too often, it’s the smaller creditors like freelancers and contractors waiting on payments who miss out as chunks of debt end up being written off. The best advice is therefore to always be on the lookout for the warning signs that a client might be on the verge of insolvency and administration - have they started to miss payments on a regular basis? Are they being evasive?

Keeping a close eye on what the financial situation of existing customers might be is all about self-preservation. If you spot the warning signs of trouble early, you can at least limit your exposure by declining further work.

Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay

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