Long-time Grafenia (GRA:AIM) chief executive Tony Rafferty is stepping down from the commercial printing provider, sending shares into a tail-spin this morning.

Grafenia trades 22% lower at 15.8p on the announcement, which was published after the market closed last night.

As well as the departure of Rafferty, Grafenia is selling its Dutch subsidiary for €2.35 million (£1.7 million).

Selling printing products into Europe has become less attractive because of the strengthening of sterling against the euro, management says.

Chief technology officer (CTO) Peter Gunning has been appointed acting chief executive and is tasked with managing the remaining assets, which include Printing.com stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as ecommerce website design initiatives.

GRA - Comparison Line Chart (Rebased to first)

‘The balance sheet is strengthened further by this transaction and the smaller group will be refocused,’ write analysts at Grafenia’s corporate adviser N+1 Singer.

‘New initiatives Nettl, Marqetspace and the recently-introduced Brambl are progressing well but this continues to be offset by the ongoing contraction of the original Printing.com franchise, although those partners are now finding opportunities in the new offerings.

‘We await more detail on progress and direction from the new chief exec with the interims in November.’

Rafferty founded Grafenia in 1992 as Printing.com and still has an 18% stake in the business. He has no plans to sell shares for the foreseeable future, according to Grafenia’s statement.

Printing.com was rebranded to Grafenia in 2013 as management attempted to shift focus from a high street-led offering to online and cloud-based design services.

Grafenia has a market value of £7.5 million.

Issue Date: 07 Oct 2015