Austrian buy for Walstead as press platform is rejigged

Jo Francis
Monday, May 21, 2018

Walstead Group is set to further expand its continental footprint with the acquisition of Austrian printer NP Druck, while separately there are changes afoot at one of the group’s UK sites.

Last month the acquisitive group had stated that further continental buys were in the pipeline

Walstead has entered into a definitive agreement with the owners of NP Druck to acquire the web offset and sheetfed printer, which is located in St Pölten, to the west of Vienna.

The deal is subject to merger control clearance by the relevant authorities, which PrintWeek understands is likely to take around a month.

The purchase price has not been disclosed, and Walstead is not commenting on the deal until it has been officially approved.

The firm already has an Austrian operation, Leykam Let’s Print, which it acquired in 2016.

NP Druck employs 165 staff and has turnover of around €55m (£48m). It produces magazines, brochures and catalogues, and runs four web presses: two 48pp and two 16pp.

The business is currently owned by newspaper publisher and media group Niederösterreichisches Pressehaus Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft, which separated its publishing and printing operations last September, as a prelude to the sale.

At the time it said that performance of the printing business had been turned around “due to joint efforts by management and employees” and it had returned to positive results.

Separately, Walstead is relocating a 64pp Lithoman press from Wyndeham Roche to its Madrid web offset supersite.

Walstead chief executive Paul Utting said market dynamics in the UK and Spain were behind the decision.

“The publishing volumes in this country continue to reduce, whereas in Spain we see growth opportunities, particularly in retail,” he said.

“We are balancing capacity across our European footprint.”

The press is currently being dismantled and is set to be up and running in Madrid by August.

Utting said the effect on staffing at Roche would be “minimal” as the press had only been running for one or two shifts.

Roche runs two other Lithoman presses, both 64/72pp models, and a Komori System 38 16pp web for covers, plus Manroland and Heidelberg B1 long perfectors. The Cornish plant employs around 250 staff.

Walstead’s Madrid plant currently runs eight web presses but is in the process of installing the giant 96pp web from Polestar Sheffield.

By the end of the year it will run one 96pp, two 80pp, one 48pp, two 16pp webs, and the 64pp from Roche.

“It’s the biggest plant in the group,” Utting added.

Separately, Wyndeham customer Time Inc UK announced last week that it will close celebrity and fashion weekly Look at the end of this month. The title had a circulation of just over 57,000 in the latest ABCs. At its peak it sold more than 300,000 copies a week.

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