New polymer banknotes could be supplied by Cumbria firm

By Hannah Jordan, Friday 13 September 2013

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Reports have labelled Cumbria-based Innovia Films as a "front-runner" to supply the new UK banknote material, if the decision is made to switch to polymer.

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The proposal, announced this week by the Bank of England (BoE), to transition from cotton-based banknotes to polymer from 2016, prompted media speculation about possible suppliers.

Innovia subsidiary Innovia Security supplies the trademarked Guardian polymer substrate for banknote printing to 23 countries, including Australia, Mexico and Canada. The substrate itself is manufactured in Australia.  

The company would not confirm or deny its involvement with the Bank of England’s move to polymer banknotes.

A spokeswoman said: "We are pleased that the Bank is seriously considering polymer, but at this time we are not in a position to make any further comment."

Innovia Security was originally founded as Securency International in 1996 as a joint venture between Innovia Films and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). In March this year Innovia paid A$65m (£43.3m) for RBA’s 50% stake in the business giving the Cumbrian firm 100% control.

Last month Innovia Films announced a £20m investment at its UK site, to boost capacity for biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), the base film used for its Guardian substrate, as well as a new gas turbine.

The work is scheduled for completion by 2015.

The BoE has launched a two-month public consultation on the move to polymer, with a decision expected in December. According to the financial institution polymer notes are more hygienic, around two-and-a-half times more durable than paper notes and benefit from better anti-counterfeit features.

The BoE claims that although the cost of the substrate and the size of the initial run would mean that production of the notes would be more expensive in the short term, the notes would provide cost savings over time as fewer would need to be printed due to their longer lifespan.  

This of course has implications for BoE’s Debden, Essex print facility, currently run by De La Rue, which has held the banknotes contract since 2003.

Last year the BoE put a £1bn print contract out to tender, with the successful bidder, of which there are thought to be five, due to start in 2015.


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