CPI to exit commercial print

Jo Francis
Friday, April 9, 2021

CPI Group is planning to cease third-party commercial work at its CPI Colour operation after the pandemic hit volumes, with the group set to focus on its core books business.

Part of CPI Colour's Croydon facility
Part of CPI Colour's Croydon facility

In a statement, Alison Kaye, CPI UK managing director for STMA and the colour business, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a significant downturn in the commercial print sector with no sign of recovery. This downturn and negative outlook have unfortunately made this division of our UK operation unsustainable for the longer term.”

She emphasised that the group’s CPI Books business, which has received significant investment over the past year “will continue to operate unchanged”.

Kaye said the company would be consulting with the CPI Colour workforce during April and May. 

Printweek understands that production of book covers will continue at the site in the immediate future.

The number of jobs at risk is not currently available. 

Unite national officer Louisa Bull told Printweek: “We haven’t received the HR1 yet so I’m not sure about the number of roles involved. I know that Alison and Tanya [Dunbar, managing director of trade books] had tried hard to save it. 

“Unfortunately it’s really down to the pandemic. They have trimmed and trimmed but this will be another major printer gone.”

In its most recent results, to 31 March 2020, CPI posted sales down 5% at £19.56m and swung to an operating loss of £1.94m compared with the prior year’s near-£3m operating profit. 

At the time it employed 148 staff. 

The company reported that the initial lockdown period in April and May 2020 had resulted in an “unprecedented reduction in business activity”, with the full impact of Covid-19 not fully known. 

It implemented a temporary 10% pay cut across the group this time last year. The group has also taken out a CLBILS loan. 

CPI Colour’s Croydon location – formerly Fulmar Colour Printing – is made up of more than 11,150sqm of manufacturing space. The facility is one of the biggest users of Heidelberg sheetfed presses in the UK, running multiple B1 and B2 multi-colour Speedmaster presses including a 12-colour perfector. It also runs B3 and B2 HP Indigo digital presses and an array of finishing kit. 

The CPI Royle specialist typesetting business and CPI Connect creative and large-format wing also come under the CPI Colour umbrella. 

The award-winning operation provides a broad range end-to-end of services beyond high quality brochures. Its offering spans printed marketing materials, creative and typesetting services, point-of-sale and packaging, data processing and analytics, fulfilment, storage and direct mail. 

Fulmar agreed to be acquired by European book group CPI 15 years ago this month. 

CPI’s other UK operations are focused on books, with  demand in general remaining robust throughout the pandemic crisis. CPI recently completed a major strategic investment in on-demand book production at its strategic partnership with publisher Wiley in Bognor Regis. 

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