By Kristina Joukhadar | CM

Scout Information Services
, fulfillment company parent of Hutchins, whose doors were closed and customers were shed on December 31, notified its remaining clients that it would be closing at the end of this month.

The Scout announcement comes as a surprise to publishing customers, other fulfillment companies and even, perhaps, to the management of Scout itself. At the time of the Hutchins announcement, Jim Caldwell, Scout chairman and CEO said that changing market conditions dictated a need to focus on core operations and improve efficiencies. “Operating only one location will allow us to be more responsive to customer needs and help us bring new services to market faster.” No one from Scout could be reached at press time.

According to Scout customer and Preston Publications publisher Janice Gordon, the letter she received said the company is filing for bankruptcy under chapter 7, and that all the company’s assets, including accounts receivables, have been pledged against bank loans that are now coming due.

In the wake of the recent Hutchins closing, the industry seemed almost poised to catch its breath. Even now, many publishers and their bureaus are just squeaking through one of the busiest audit seasons of the year.

With only 30 days to move their accounts, circulation directors and fulfillment managers may not have time to get any outstanding invoices paid and get their files out, converted and ready to go at a new house in time for the deadline.

The move also raises the question of whether the entire Scout operation, which includes hosted information services solutions, is shutting down, or whether it might survive in some other form. Interestingly, according to Gay Manning of Data System Solutions, Scout was in the process of converting over to the DSS system. Manning says they had no warning of the closing.

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