It was super-interesting to visit Bedfordshire the other week to see "Westferry Luton", Richard Desmond's new newspaper printing plant. One of the interesting things being the name, of course.
I hadn't realised
the Westferry name would live on beyond the docklands location era. That's
quite a nice touch, I think. There's something rather marvellous about a brand
new print site where everything has been set up just so from a blank sheet of
paper and all the kit is shiny and new. Westferry Luton is looking like a very
slick setup. And as chief executive David Broadhurst points out, once the new KBA
Commanders are fully on-stream with full-colour output, they're bound to want
the same colour facilities at the group's northern newspaper print hub in
Preston too, so it's easy to envisage phase two going ahead as planned. And plans to add driers to the Luton presses to produce magazine-quality colour are super-intriguing too.
Broadhurst and Desmond have ambitions to add a chunk of contract printing to Luton's print schedule - they've certainly got the capacity. That too is going to be something to watch. How ironic that Guardian Media Group, one of the former partners at Westferry, is looking for a new contract printing option itself despite having spent many millions on its own setup. However, the Guardian's Berliner format makes this a problem. A pragmatic decision for GMG would be to adopt a newspaper format that would mean Newsprinters, Trinity Mirror, Newsfax or indeed Westferry Luton could print for them. Wonder if they will give the Berliner the bullet?