Blantyre Archdiocese sells Montfort Press to Skipco

Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Blantyre has let out all its stakes in one of the oldest printing and publishing establishments in the country Montfort Press and Popular Publications to Skipco Investments Limited, a former partner in the company.

The Archdiocese had until August 31 2012 shelved the printing and publishing business to Skipco, which it had been running since 1960’s.

An official from the Archdiocese told Nyasa Times that the representatives of the Archdiocese felt it was no longer viable to pursue the business following serious losses the company had been operating for several years.

“The company will soon relocate to Skipco Investments Limited at Maselema from its present premises (Archdiocese of Blantyre – Limbe Catholic Cathedral campus)” says the official.

Printing press

A visit by Nyasa Times at the premises on Friday revealed that most of the Montfort Press offices are empty as most of the equipment including computers, printers and photocopiers has already been moved to the new offices.

The Archdiocese and Skipco Investments Limited entered into a management contract agreement in 2005 to run Montfort Press and Popular Publications Limited. In 2010, Skipco acquired majority stakes in the shareholding of the company.

“What has happened now is that Skipco has taken over 100 percent shareholding to continue running the company. The Church has just pulled out; not that the company had closed down,” says the official.

However the development has not been without controversy to the employees of Montfort Press as nine of them have been retrenched as part of the restructuring exercise.

This came after the workers staged sit-ins in August which was aimed force Management to increase their perks in the wake of the devaluation and the general economic upset.

The workers were also pushing management to confirm the speculations of the company’s relocation as well as to explain the position of their Pensions remittance to their administrator.

The retrenched workers were reportedly duly paid their retrenchment packages while the remaining members of staff who are moving to Skipco Investments got 30% salary increment.

It took the intervention of officials from the Labour Office and the Communication Workers Union of Malawi, to which the company’s Workers’ Union branch is affiliated, to ease the tension after they were told that the shift of ownership did not mean that Montfort Press, as a company, had closed down since Skipco Investments were already a shareholder in the business.

Skipco Investments Limited management has confirmed to Nyasa Times having taken full responsibility of the printing and publishing house but quashed reports that they are intending to further downsize members of the staff.

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