Walstead expands with German buy

Gotha's biggest web press is a 96pp Sunday 5000
Gotha's biggest web press is a 96pp Sunday 5000

Walstead Group has made its first buy in Germany with the acquisition of GD Gotha Druck und Verpackung out of insolvency.

The group’s latest consolidation move was made via Walstead’s Austrian subsidiary, Walstead Leykam Druck.

The acquired business – one of the biggest of its kind in Germany – specialises in retail flyers and is located in Thuringia in central Germany between Frankfurt and Leipzig. The firm dates back to 1928.

Gotha filed for insolvency in February after being hit by Covid, spiralling paper prices and energy prices, and the war in Ukraine which impacted demand.

In calendar year 2021 it had sales of €65m (£56m) and employed 233 people.

Printweek understands it has been restructured as part of the insolvency process.

Under its new ownership the business becomes Walstead Gotha.

Gotha is a large web offset house, but also runs sheetfed and digital kit.

It installed a Goss Sunday 5000 96pp web in 2019.

Walstead already runs one of the giant 2.86m-wide presses at its Rotocobrhi plant in Spain, having bought the asset following Polestar’s collapse.

Gotha’s six other web presses are all Manroland models. It runs three Lithoman III 32pp presses, a 16pp Rotoman, 48pp Lithoman, and 72/80pp Lithoman IV.

Walstead has acquired the plant and machinery and Gotha’s 21,500sqm freehold factory.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Uwe Stadler, the managing director of Walstead’s NP Druck business in Austria, takes up the same role at the new company.

Walstead Leykam Druck CEO Stefan Gutheil said the group’s strategy was to expand its manufacturing footprint in “key European countries” – with Germany being the largest – and to grow its business in retail advertising print.

“This will be our first production facility in Germany where we currently export product from our Austrian, Czech, and Slovenian factories,” he said.

“We are looking forward to serving Gotha’s customers who will be supported by Walstead’s market-leading and extensive heatset web offset capability and increasing our presence in the German market.”

The overall Walstead Group has sales of €640m and employs 2,300 across Europe, making it the region’s biggest independent commercial printer.

Walstead’s UK operation is currently in the process of taking over production of the News UK supplements previously printed at Prinovis, with the transition from gravure to web offset taking full effect at the end of this month.