COVID-19 has killed more than a million people globally, and it has also taken out companies of all sizes. One of the latest casualties is Westbury National Show Systems, one of the largest pro AV integrators in Canada.
The Toronto-area company was placed in receivership on October 9 on application by its banker, BMO, saying Westbury owed approximately $10.1 million.
Says the summary filing:
Starting in October 2018, the company’s financial performance had begun to deteriorate and BMO requested that the company address the need for an imminent capital injection. The company’s existing financial difficulties were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which rendered the company’s live events business inactive and created further liquidity pressure on the business given the lost revenue and ongoing overhead expenses.
Currently, there are two sales and liquidation processes being run in parallel for the company’s assets. Grant Thornton was appointed receiver. Counsel is Gardiner Roberts for the applicant and Aird & Berlis for the receiver.
The live events business for Westbury, like most companies doing audio and visuals for everything from concerts to conferences, cratered in Q2 and has not come back, which was a big contributor to what’s happened.
But Westbury’s financial issues go back a few years. The company appeared to be ticking along very nicely, but ownership changes coincided with a slide and, I am told, the start of an exodus of key people.
The details of what went down and how it got that way are in the Grant Thornton filing here …
I have been a little surprised by how few companies have shuttered in the signage and AV ecosystem, but layoffs are definitely happening. The top 3 US integrator Diversified, for example, has done layoffs.
Hopefully, there are other elements of the Pro AV industry that can pick up the Westbury people who are busily updated their CVs and Linkedin pages. There are probably 100 people out of work, though maybe 70 of those were already layoffs forced by the shutdown of live events.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.