Felixstowe: Johnson Stevens Agencies goes into administration

LONG-established liner agency Johnson Stevens Agencies has gone into administration after being hit by an European Union-wide embargo on IRISL, the state-run Iranian shipping line for which it previously acted.

Administrators from accountancy firm PKF were appointed yesterday morning, with a string of deals to represent other shipping companies immediately being sold to Kestrel Liner Agencies, owned by Norfolk-based shipping entrepreneur Andrew Thorne.

Felixstowee-based Johnson Stevens was co-founded by current chairman and managing director Derek Johnson in 1976 and grew to become the leading liner agency in the UK, with Mr Johnson receiving an MBE in 2004 for services to the shipping community.

David Merrygold, one of the administrators from PKF, said the company had traded successfully for many years but had suffered badly after its bank account was frozen following the embargo on IRISL last year.

Mr Johnson had been instrumental in introducing the administrators to Mr Thorne as a potential buyer, he added.

The former Johnson Stevens representations will start trading with immediate effect under the name JSA Global Ltd. A total of 14 employees have transferred to the new ownership, with five others being made redundant yesterday.

Mr Thorne, who owns several shipping companies in the UK and overseas, said: “This purchase makes our business the UK’s largest liner agency with a group turnover in the region of �50million and employing over 150 people.

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“This acquisition of Johnson Stevens assets and the lines it represents is good news for our company, the staff of Johnson Stevens and for all our principals.”

Kestrel Liner Agencies, a winner of the Queen’s Award for International Trade, operates from offices in London, Manchester, the Humber, Aberdeen and now Felixstowe as well as a host of offices overseas.

“I will be approaching the future of JSA with my usual energy and enthusiasm and we will ensure we continue to deliver an industry excellence in service and delivery which is a trademark of our shipping operations, “ Mr Thorne added.

A number of Johnson Stevens representations, which are either unprofitable or where the line concerned has not agreed to a transfer, remain in the hands of the administrators.