Major UK weekly moves to European printer

Following the closure of Polestar’s gravure site in Sheffield, a major publisher has moved its weekly magazine title to Belgium, while others still seek permanent solutions.

The last issue of Hello! to be printed at Polestar Sheffield hit the stands last week with the latest issue being printed at Circle Printers in Belgium.

Roger Williams, associate publisher for Hello! magazine said that with no option for gravure left in the UK the title had no choice but to look to Europe. Gravure printer Prinovis UK in Liverpool would have been unlikely to be able to accomodate the title due to the amount of weekly titles it already produces and the fact that it prints rival tile OK!.

“We did look at the option of printing web offset but its hugely expensive because it wastes a lot of paper. We also looked at printing in Spain as our parent title Hola! does, but really we wanted to stay as close to the UK as possible to maintain our delivery and sales schedule, so we went for Circle Printers,” he said. 

Polestar UK Print and Polestar Stones-Wheaton went into administration with PricewaterhouseCoopers in April, with Sheffield site closing its doors at the end of May.

Its Chantry operation was rescued by YM Group while the Bicester site has been taken over by Wyndeham Group owner Walstead after it won and bidding war with YM Group. 

Hello! has an ABC circulation of 267,299 and was previously printed on a tight schedule over the weekend with 40% of copies on the shelves in and around London on Monday and the remainder distributed across the rest of the country on Tuesday.

Williams said using Circle Printers had allowed them to keep to the same schedule. "We are bringing the copies back through the tunnel and distributing as normal in the UK. As far as the reader is concerned there is no difference, which is great,” he said.

Williams added: “There is of course an additional transport cost from Belgium to the Dunstable hub but we have a good rate because we are using the same carrier as Hola! and we have negotiated a good deal with Circle so we aren’t a million miles away from where we were.”

He said a formal contract had not yet been signed and that talks for a long-term agreement would likely begin in a few weeks. “We’re working on a week-by-week basis at the moment,” Willaims explained.

“It’s important they deliver what we want but equally we need to provide the support the printer needs. We’re very impressed with how the first issue went so we want to get a few more under our belts and then sit down, review it, make any necessary changes and then look at a long-term contract. We’ll both be looking at investments from each other so there will be things that need discussing."

He added: “There’s no reason for us to look elsewhere, it’s the best option we have and one we are happy with.”

Sister title Hello! Fashion Monthly will continue to be printed at Chantry.

“We were really happy working with both of these sites and had no intention of moving so although our hand has obviously been forced with Sheffield, we will stick with YM Chantry for Hello! Fashion Monthly as I’m sure that they will continue to do a great job for us under their new ownership,” he said.  

Meanwhile, the Guardian said it had moved printing of “some of its weekend supplements” to Roto Smeets in Holland and is in discussion with the printer about longer-term agreements for the printing of Guardian Weekend and Observer Magazine.

Its remaining supplement titles will be brought in-house in July, but are currently being printed by York Mailing.

It is unclear whether Roto Smeets is also able to fulfil the Guardian’s insert or poly-bagging requirements.

Trinity Mirror, meanwhile, is remaining tight-lipped regarding the printing of its Mirror weekend supplements, saying that no permanent solution had yet been agreed, although PrintWeek understands that German Printer TiefDruck-Schwann-Bagel may be in the running, but this was unconfirmed.