Strategic decision to move away from high-end 'craft' work

Jobs go as Bluetree opts for industrial over luxe at Kingsbury

An example of the type of luxury work Kingsbury Press is renowned for

Bluetree Group has decided to switch the remit of Kingsbury Press from bespoke books and high-end brochures to standardised products, in a shock move that will result in a number of job losses.

Multi-award-winning Kingsbury was acquired by Bluetree Group in the autumn of 2021, with the Doncaster business subsequently relocated to the second unit at Bluetree’s Wath upon Dearne supersite last year.

In a statement explaining the change, Bluetree Group acknowledged that Kingsbury was “known for its work on ultra-luxury books producing highly bespoke examples that used exotic materials and could cost thousands of pounds”.

The Kingsbury Press strapline is “The Art of Print” and counts luxury brands and property businesses among its client base. Clients have included Rolls-Royce, Sunseeker, Liberty London, Ferrari and Bulgari.

The original business dates back to 1966.

Bluetree Group said it had taken the strategic decision to move away from ultra-luxury “craft” style work “in favour of more standardised products on its industrialised platform”.

“Going forward the focus for the business will be on publishing and servicing the requirements of the group’s trade brand Route1Print.”

Co-CEO James Kinsella said he realised the change would come as a huge shock for some of Kingsbury’s clients.

“It was a big decision for Kingsbury Press to move out of the market for very high-end craft style books,” he said.

“Although we’re excited for the future and the opportunities in the marketplace, we acknowledge that this is a big change for some long standing clients who are part of Kingsbury’s heritage.”

Printweek understands that around 15 roles have been made redundant as a result, although this figure has not been confirmed. A number of employees left the company on Tuesday (2 April).

Kingsbury Press deputy general manager Sarah Kilcoyne-Guilliam has just confirmed that she is one of the people leaving, and posted a heartfelt message on LinkedIn

“This change has unfortunately impacted a number of specialist roles and we are currently in discussions with affected team members,” Kinsella said.

Bluetree runs a raft of digital and conventional printing equipment and is poised to install its second Landa B1 inkjet press alongside a major investment in a Muller Martini Prinova high-tech stitching system.

Head of Kingsbury Press Phil Tasker commented: “Over the past eighteen months, integration of the business into the Bluetree print infrastructure has enabled Kingsbury to win more work in the publishing sector.

“With these changes, and our investments in new technology from Landa and Muller Martini and others, we will be able to put our full focus on what we see as a very exciting market.”

Kingsbury Press wowed the judges at this year’s Printweek Awards with the quality of its work, and won the Book Printer of the Year and Post-Press Company of the Year awards.

At the end of last year Bluetree mothballed its surgical mask business in order to focus on growing its printing brands.

In the year to 29 April 2023 Bluetree Print had sales of £57.97m and made an operating profit of £1.14m.