Web offset wondering-land

Jo Francis
Friday, December 6, 2013

Jo Francis is still obsessing about the future shape of the UK web offset market.

Christmas is approaching at speed, and I still don’t know [officially] where Polestar is going to put its new web offset presses.

In the space of a week I’ve been told by 'sources' that the Sheffield extension definitely isn’t going ahead, and that it definitely is.

This is frustration indeed for the committed web offset watcher.

The upcoming seasonal festivities may not be entirely unconnected to the information gap.

Peak production time for the bumper issues of the TV listings titles covering the Christmas and New Year period is upon us. Polestar prints a bunch of them, including the venerable Radio Times, which remains a Christmas fixture in households up and down the country, including Francis Towers.

One wouldn’t necessarily need to be a conspiracy theorist to think that holding back on any announcements (which, let's face it, are likely to affect one or more of Polestar's other plants) until after that crucial batch of work is finished and out of the door would be a sensible option.

The other significant imminent happening in the scheme of all this is the result of IPC Media’s latest print review. Big decision coming up on behalf of the UK’s Richard Hill and global production boss Guy Gleysteen. 

With both Polestar and Wyndeham pitching for a bigger piece of the IPC pie (or indeed all of it) the publisher’s decision could have a major impact on the future shape of UK web offset capacity. And, one could imagine that declining circulations might mean that some of the work previously deemed automatically to be gravure printed could potentially migrate to web offset.

Can it possibly be a Happy New Year for all parties? 



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