Pureprint to close Dunstable manufacturing ops as part of reorganisation

By Hannah Jordan, Thursday 10 March 2016

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Pureprint will close the manufacturing side of its Houghton Regis site as part of a circa £5.5m programme to restructure the firm's production facilities.

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Pureprint acquired the Houghton Regis site in 2013

The £7m-turnover Bedfordshire packaging and print operation formerly traded as Abstract, which Pureprint acquired out of administration in 2013, and currently employs 40 people with 24 in its studio, pre-press set-up and offices on the site and 16 running the manufacturing operation.

A 90-day consultation regarding all 16 manufacturing roles ended last week, with all being offered positions at Pureprint’s Uckfield, East Sussex headquarters but most electing to leave the business rather than relocate.

“This wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, it just reached the point where a combination of so many factors were driving us in that direction and it just made sense,” said Pureprint managing director Mark Handford.

“Dunstable has actually had a great year, which makes this even more difficult and the staff, many who’ve been there for 15 or 20 years have been incredible. In an ideal world they would all have come to work in Uckfield,” he added.

Since buying the site in 2013 Pureprint has created efficiencies in the business, reducing headcount from 49 to 40 and reducing overheads by shrinking its rented floorspace by two thirds to 1,000sqm.

Handford said with just one nine-year-old five-colour Heidelberg XL and an ageing finishing line at Dunstable, coupled with the site’s lease due to expire in May, it made no economic sense to invest in upgrading while the business had such a substantial investment plan at Uckfield.

“The two businesses are just too closely aligned, there’s no diversification, so it just wouldn’t have made sense,” he said.

Handford said that Pureprint was the Dunstable site’s main ‘client’ and that finishing was completely outsourced. This, he said would be brought back in-house to East Sussex, while digital work had been absorbed into Uckfield more than a year ago. All equipment from Houghton Regis is being sold.

The investment programme in Uckfield, which Handford said would cost around £5.5m, will see its main site become a purely digital operation while its neighbouring 5,500sqm fulfillment centre will become a dedicated litho press hall housing the firm’s three existing Heidelberg XL machines as well as two new recently purchased devices.

Handford said the first floor of the new press hall will also become the £60m-turnover firm’s new office headquarters.

New finishing and digital investments will be announced in the coming weeks, Handford said.

The business is now recruiting for Uckfield to replace its Houghton Regis manufacturing staff while it is also looking move its Bedfordshire office operations after the lease expires in May, and grow headcount, he explained.  

Elsewhere the business has recently relocated and expanded its Bristol operations to a new site in Swindon, as part of a planned growth strategy in the commercial and technology space.  

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