The £130m turnover business employs more than 1,000 staff in the UK across seven sites.
Book printing wing CPI Books is its biggest business. Other group operations span high-quality commercial print including brochures and report and accounts at CPI Colour, creative agency and large-format retail and exhibition printing at CPI Connect, and specialist typesetting wing CPI Royle.
Managing director for trade books Tanya Dunbar said the group had experienced an abrupt decline in orders at some of its operations, with a number of large projects cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Due to the coronavirus we have seen orders simply fall off a cliff in some of our key markets, such as academic books, catalogues and exhibitions; as well as any marketing material relating to the retail sector,” she said.
The group has also been impacted by Amazon’s decision to temporarily suspend deliveries of “non-essential items” into its UK and US warehouses, including printed books, due to the huge spike in sales of household items caused by the Covid-19 situation. The suspension runs until 5 April.
“This has had a significant effect and therefore has necessitated a quick decision about managing our costs in the short-term. Unfortunately, as is the case with a number of businesses in the print sector, CPI is unable to benefit from any of the emergency funding the Government is making available.”
Dunbar said the group “fell through the gaps” in the government’s Covid-19 assistance packages, but would be using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough some staffers.
She said union Unite had been “understanding” about the group’s situation.
“We are, of course, furloughing staff where we are able to and will continue to do so to help take us through this period. Our obvious focus is to weather this unexpected storm to ensure CPI is in as strong a position as possible once it is over. To that end, it may be necessary for us to take additional measures over the coming months.”
Unite national officer Louisa Bull commented: “There isn’t a printing company big or small that isn’t looking at the furlough scheme. CPI have consulted with the union and we understand the choices they’re making at the moment.
“A 10% cut across-the-board is still better than being furloughed, for now. We want to keep people at their workplaces as much as we can during this situation. Our message to government is that manufacturing is essential.”
CPI said it was “closely following Government advice” on safe working practices, including managing shifts to reduce potential for cross contamination, cleaning wipes and hand sanitisers near or on machines, and policing social distancing at the sites.
“This specific requirement is being assisted through 2m markings on the floor around machines and posters up at sites showing how far 2m actually is,” Dunbar added.
Dunbar and managing director for STMA and CPI Colour Alison Kaye said that CPI’s sister plants on the continent were benefiting from more support than the UK business during the virus crisis.
“The UK is the only country where we are getting no financial support apart from the furlough scheme.”
CPI Group’s continental operations are located in France, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.