Stephens & George in high-tech bindery spend

Stephens & George is making a multimillion-pound investment in new Muller Martini equipment for its bindery in what is believed to be the UK’s biggest finishing spend for a decade.

The Merthyr Tydfil-based print group is spending £4.2m on two new Muller Martini stitching lines and two Bolero perfect binders.

It will be the first firm in the UK to have the new generation of Muller Martini Primera, and to benefit from the manufacturer’s ‘Finishing 4.0’ automation and connectivity technology. Further details are under wraps until Drupa. 

The new equipment will be installed in two swathes, with two Primeras and a Bolero installed over the summer, and the second Bolero to follow next year.

Stephens & George (S&G) chairman and group managing director Andrew Jones said the spend was part of the firm’s continuous investment programme. “We’ve spent a lot of money on presses but we left the bindery behind until now, while we were waiting for the technology to move on. We now feel the time is right to invest in finishing.”

S&G has been a long-standing user of Muller Martini equipment, having installed its first Muller stitcher in 1987.

“We’re absolutely delighted to continue our relationship with Stephens & George, and we’re confident that Finishing 4.0 will protect their investment for the future,” said Muller Martini sales manager David McGinlay. “They will have cutting-edge equipment in the bindery as well as the press hall.”

Group bindery manager Marcus Partridge said the automation on the new equipment was important for the firm’s short-run work – its average run length is 6,500 copies. “Thanks to the automatic settings we can sell the very first copy and we can change the systems over quickly,” he stated.

Stephens & George currently runs three saddlestitchers and three perfect binding lines. It will retain its existing PrimaPlus stitcher and Corona C13 binder alongside the new equipment.

The new Primera stitchers will be four- and six-station models, while the Bolero will be a 10 station model with a stream feeder and drum cover feeder.

The specification of the second Bolero will be agreed at a later date.

“We always buy the latest technology to take the business forward, and this shows our confidence in the marketplace,” Jones added. “This finishing investment is going to see us through for another ten years.”

Stephens & George run five multi-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106 presses, and prints magazines and a range of commercial work including programmes and catalogues. It had sales of around £25.2m last year and employs 216 staff at its 11,000sqm facility.