The factory, in Fleurus to the south of Brussels, is the only gravure printer in Belgium.
Hélio Charleroi issued a statement today (25 January), that said: “The Works Council of printing company Hélio has met this morning and has been informed that Hélio Charleroi intends to file for bankruptcy today. This announcement was inevitable as the further continuation of Hélio’s rotogravure activities is not sustainable under the current market conditions.
“The European printing industry has been continuously restructuring itself for many years, due to a continuous decrease in print volumes. This results in structural overcapacity and cut-throat competition leading to ongoing reorganisations, closures and bankruptcies throughout Europe. This process accelerated during 2018 because of reduced paper availability, leading to rapidly increasing paper prices that could not be passed on to customers.”
The company employs 180 staff.
Charleroi has printed for a number of UK customers, but lost its contract to print Hello! last summer when the publisher brought the title back to the UK at Prinovis in Liverpool.
PrintWeek understands the site still prints for at least one UK catalogue company.
An industry source commented: “I’d heard that they’d lost quite a lot of volume recently. I don’t know if this [bankruptcy] is what you need to do if you want to close a plant in Belgium.”
Charleroi runs five gravure presses including two 4.32m-wide presses that were installed in 2006. It operates 24/7.
The statement said: “After the filing for bankruptcy of Hélio Charleroi it is then for the court to open the bankruptcy and to appoint one or more curator(s). The management of Hélio understands the uncertainty that this announcement causes amongst its employees and their families.”
It’s not clear whether the intention is to close the site, or restructure it.
PrintWeek could not reach Circle Media chief executive Peter Andreou for comment at the time of writing.
Circle Media Group bought German web offset printer Körner Druck less than two months ago.
It established a substantial presence in the UK when it acquired book and commercial printing group CPI last summer.
The group has overall sales of €900m (£780m) and 5,000 employees.