Heidelberg UK preps for move to new home

Heidelberg is set to vacate its landmark Brentford building by Christmas
Heidelberg is set to vacate its landmark Brentford building by Christmas

Heidelberg is preparing to vacate its Brentford base for new premises close to Heathrow Airport.

The press manufacturer agreed to sell its waterside Brentford site to housing developer Fairview New Homes over the summer with the deal expected to complete by the end of the year.

Heidelberg UK managing director Ryan Miles confirmed the company would be relocating to the leafy Stockley Park business estate in Hayes, located to the north of Heathrow Airport.

The business has taken the entire 2,000sqm ground floor of the 1 Furzeground Way building. Neighbours include Apple and Canon. 

Miles told Printweek: “We are busy with the fit-out and hoping it will be ready just before Christmas.

“It will house our demo centre, back office functions, customer contact centre and the storage of our installation equipment – we will fit everything in quite comfortably.”

The demo centre will house “everything except sheetfed offset”, he said. 

“Pre-Covid 70% of our offset demos were at our factory in Germany already – machines are heavily customised and specifically built and customers prefer going there,” Miles explained. 

He said the business had also carried out a customer survey, with 100% saying they would prefer to go to Wiesloch, which houses Heidelberg’s entire sheetfed product range.

Miles also said the hi-tech facilities in the new building included all the necessary software and connectivity to allow operator training. 

“It’s a big step forward in driving the customer excellence experience, and a long-term plan for the company.”

Stockley Park: 'business bustle in a country setting'

Around 60 staff of Heidelberg UK’s 150-strong team will be based out of Stockley Park, with the rest home-based. 

Heidelberg UK has also filed its results for a full year of pandemic-impacted trading. 

Sales in the year to 31 March 2021 fell by 40% to £46.94m, and the operating loss increased from just over £4m to £7.5m due to the “significant restructuring” that took place including outsourcing its warehouse facility and reducing the number of staff by around 25%. 

Sales on continuing operations were £44.25m, and on discontinued operations (such as VLF presses) sales were just under £2.7m.

After the year end the business made a further 10% reduction in headcount due to falling demand in the commercial printing market. 

Miles said that the business was now back on a firm financial footing. 

“Operationally we are profitable on a standalone basis, without any government support,” he stated. 

“After reorganisation and one-off costs, Covid and the changes in the industry, we are very satisfied with the way the business is performing. We have put ourselves in a very strong position going forward.”

Heidelberg has also tidied up some legacy corporate issues, with the old Linotype-Hell Ltd business now liquidated, subject to final sign-off from HMRC. 

Heidelberg Group Trustees Ltd (formerly Linotype Group Trustees) will transfer to Heidelberg Graphic Equipment as a result. 

Proceeds from the sale of the Brentford freehold have also allowed the business to agree a deficit reduction schedule for its defined benefit pension scheme, which should result in the deficit – £13m at the last actuarial valuation in 2018, and a liability of nearly £7.4m in the fresh accounts – being eliminated.