Clays in major contract win

Jo Francis
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

St Ives Clays is to become the sole UK supplier of monochrome books to publishing giant Penguin Random House and is poised to double its digital book production capability, in a move that has major ramifications for the UK book printing landscape.

The £67.4m-turnover book printer will take over the work when the publisher’s existing contracts with CPI UK expire this year.

The deal is a significant blow to CPI, which is understood to have told its clients that it plans to close Reading-based Cox & Wyman “due to the loss of a major contract”, although at the time of writing the company had declined to comment. 

Bungay-based Clays was already a major supplier to Penguin Random House, and had been a key supplier to both Penguin and Random House prior to the merger of the two companies in 2013.

The enlarged sole supplier deal will involve all of the publisher’s monochrome work, together with the associated covers and jackets. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but it is understood to be a multimillion-pound, multi-year arrangement.

In a statement, Clays said the contract would underpin its ability to continue to make major strategic investments in the face of declining book volumes overall, and the shift by publishers to shorter, more frequent, and faster turnaround print runs.

Strategic director Kate McFarlan said: “Obviously we are delighted to win this contract. There is a positive feeling in all of the publishing markets, people are talking about there being more confidence and a bit of a bounce-back in print sales – people of all ages who want to read books want to read actual books.”

Clays currently has the capability to produce 15m-20m books a year digitally, and now plans to double this.

The firm has made several major investments in digital print production in recent years, installing a Timsons T-Press and Kodak Prosper line. Last year it spent a further £2.5m on specialist finishing kit from Timsons and Kolbus.

McFarlan said the firm would confirm further investment plans to boost digital capacity in the coming weeks.

Stephen Esson, group publishing operations director at Penguin Random House, was travelling overseas and unavailable for comment.

 

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