After meetings between the company’s senior management and shareholders, it was decided that manufacturing at the Essex facility should cease, effective yesterday (4 February), and that all production would be transferred together with the site’s eight-colour KBA Rapida long perfector to the much larger site of sister business GD Web Offset in Rotherham.
The company said the long perfector is currently being decommissioned and will be fully operational at the Rotherham facility by the end of February, where it will operate alongside the site’s existing 48pp Manroland Lithoman and 16pp Manroland Rotoman web presses.
EWO owns three sites at Shoeburyness. The principal unit houses its older 16pp Manroland Polyman web press, which was shut down last month following a “sharp decline” in work for the machine. Its remaining work was shifted to the 16pp Rotoman at the Rotherham site, which resulted in 24 redundancies at EWO.
22 staff remained at Shoeburyness at this point, with shifts increased on the long perfector to absorb remaining ‘sheeted’ work.
But only half of those will now make the move up to Rotherham, with the remainder not transferring “simply because of the geography”, according to EWO commercial manager David Payne.
The main Shoeburyness unit will now be used as a sales and customer service site, with the 16pp Polyman remaining in situ to ensure there is a disaster recovery unit available to the group. The remaining two sites will be rented out by the company.
EWO said its decision “was made purely on economic grounds” and that the excess capacity at both sites could be taken up by consolidating both plants into one.
Payne told PrintWeek: “At present, we’ve found that there are elements where we can’t be as competitive as we’d like to be, simply because of the logistics.
“Shorter runs of the perfect-bound type products were being produced down here and then they were shipped up there for binding. It is all physically contained within one site now, so we haven’t got the logistics to worry about.”
GD Web Offset has already made moves to reduce its overheads with a joint-venture deal with a waste management company.
The company said this circa-£2m investment had already directly reduced the rent and rates at Rotherham by around a third and that, following the latest decision, there will no longer be any transportation costs involved in work moving between the two sites.
Consisting of £6.5m-turnover EWO and £11m-turnover GD, the group said it will now share “an overall lower overhead with reduced logistical requirements”.
EWO will continue to trade as present from Rotherham, said Payne.
“The EWO branding is 100% being maintained – the company is going forward and staying as EWO Media.”