Walstead in consultation at York site

Kingston: "It reflects the market, it doesn’t reflect anything else”
Kingston: "It reflects the market, it doesn’t reflect anything else”

Walstead is planning to reduce the size of its Walstead York operation as the group scales for likely future demand.

The business began a 30-day consultation with workers at the site last week.

Walstead restarted the former York Mailing commercial web operation in June 2022, following the collapse of YM Group’s web offset sites.

It now plans to shut Hanger One, which houses a 64/72pp long-grain Manroland Lithoman along with binding and stitching kit.

Hanger Two, home to a 48pp short-grain Lithoman, will remain open.

Walstead Group chief operating officer Roy Kingston explained the situation to Printweek, and said: “What we try to do is stay ahead of the curve, and what I can see in 2024 is the continuation of the downsizing of print runs and paginations which tells me we’re going to have one long-grain press too many next year.

“It’s quite a simple message, it reflects the market, it doesn’t reflect anything else.”

Out of 44 workers in total, 26 are at risk of redundancy while 18 will remain to run Hanger Two.

Kingston praised the employees at York and said he hoped some would remain with the group.

“They’re a fantastic bunch of guys. A great workforce that is quality-conscious and has embraced flexible working. I’m hoping that as many as possible will relocate to other sites.”

Walstead is currently recruiting for a number of positions at its other sites, including web printers at Bicester, a HR administrator at Peterborough, and an electromechanical engineer at Roche in Cornwall.

The group intends to vacate Hanger One by the end of its licence to occupy, which is the end of October, and is currently negotiating with the landlord regarding a new lease for Hanger Two.

Surplus equipment from York will be relocated within the group, which has multiple sites on the continent including recent buy GD Gotha Druck und Verpackung in Germany.

Separately, Kingston also said that at Bicester the inline stitching capability on the huge Goss Sunday 5000 64pp short-grain press was now also up and running, which was helpful in terms of stitching capacity for the time-sensitive products printed at the Oxfordshire factory, which also runs five Ferags.  

Walstead Bicester is the biggest single-site web offset facility in the UK and also has a large bindery that includes perfect binding, stitching, and mailroom equipment.

The overall Walstead Group has sales of €640m (£548m) and employs 2,300 across Europe, making it the region’s biggest independent commercial printer.