Bertram Books collapses with 450 jobs at risk
More than 450 employees of a book wholesaler are set to lose their jobs after it collapsed into administration, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bertram Books, based at the Broadland Business Park in Norwich, appointed administrators this week.
The firm was founded in a chicken shed in 1968.
Joint administrators Turpin Barker Armstrong said the majority of staff would be made redundant with "immediate effect".
Kip Bertram, who started the company with his mother Elsie before selling it in 1999, said its collapse was "very sad for the staff, the city of Norwich and the customers".
He disputed the claims of the administrators over the reasons for the collapse, saying: "It's nothing to do with e-Books or Covid-19 - people still like to hold and smell books."
Mr Bertram said the firm's fate was concerning for small publishers which used it for distribution.
Galley Beggar Press, based in Norwich, is owed £7,000, and its co-founder Sam Jordison said Bertrams has "quite a lot of stock of ours - we have printed the books, but don't know if we can get hold of them".
In a statement, Turpin Barker Armstrong said: "Book wholesalers have suffered from falling demand in recent years due to changes in the distribution model for literature and the rising popularity of e-books.
"These factors, combined with the Covid-19 related closure of many public libraries and educational facilities, meant these businesses could no longer operate viably.
"Unfortunately, the majority of employees have been made redundant with immediate effect with a small number retained to manage the winding down of operations."