Bradley Group buys Speedmaster from collapsed Stones

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, June 15, 2018

Bradley Group has bought the 10-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 that previously belonged to collapsed sheetfed printer Henry Stone.

Peter Bradley, managing director of the Northern Ireland-headquartered group, told PrintWeek the nearly-new press, which Stones had only installed last summer, had registered fewer than five million impressions before the business was closed down after it fell into administration in March.

The press will be installed in the next two weeks at the company’s 3,250sqm Nicholson Bass site in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, where it will run alongside a raft of existing digital and finishing kit.

Bradley Group acquired Nicholson Bass last summer, around six months after its purchase of Isle of Man-based commercial printer Mannin Group.

The group's original Quinnstheprinters site is also in Northern Ireland, in the Limestone Road area of Belfast, while it has a fourth facility in Liverpool, at which it runs a Drupa-purchased Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106-8-P LE-UV press.

When the 10-colour XL 106 from Stones is fully up and running, it will replace three of the group's older Heidelberg Speedmaster presses – one four-colour B1, one four-colour B2 with a coater, and one eight-colour B2.

Following the installation of the Stones press, and the decommissioning of the three older machines, Nicholson Bass will switch to 24/7 operation and also become the Northern Ireland production hub for Quinnstheprinters. The Limestone Road site will then be used predominantly as a storage facility.

All three Limestone Road machines will be sold on through Kent-based Exel Printing Machinery, which is also facilitating the move of the XL 106 to Northern Ireland and its installation.

“This press will give us extra capacity and will enable us to do more of Nicholson Bass' publishing work alongside better gang-ups on our leaflet work for Quinns,” said Bradley.

“We are confident that it can do up to £11m of sales on its own just at the Irish site whereas at the moment we’re probably doing about £6m in Ireland.”

He added: “We bought a brand new press last year so this time we were looking for nearly-new rather than brand new. With the difference in the exchange rate, comparing apples with apples what we bought in 2016 versus what you can get this year is wildly different.

“We were very lucky to come across this press, albeit not under great circumstances for Henry Stone, and there were a lot of people that wanted it."

New finishing equipment, including folders and Polar guillotines, will also be installed at Nicholson Bass in the coming weeks to complement the Speedmaster.

“The Nicholson Bass brand has been there since 1938 and has some very good contracts. Their equipment hasn't been so great over the last few years and, when we took over, one thing we wanted to do was make sure we maintained the standards that they have always had in terms of customer service and salesmanship but also integrate that with the latest technology in terms of pre-press, press and post-press.”

Bradley Group currently turns over around £15m across its various sites and has 120 staff.

“We see huge growth in the Irish market for ourselves and our goal is to do £10m-£12m in Ireland in the next two to three years,” said Bradley.

Separately, the group is also starting to offer a trade Pantone printing service using a B2 Speedmaster five-colour with coater based at Mannin Group.

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