Polestar poised to fire up first of its new webs

Jo Francis
Monday, September 15, 2014

Polestar is set to begin printing on the first of its two new 96pp web presses at the end of this month.

Its brace of Goss International Sunday 5000 presses, the first in the UK, are now in place at the extended Sheffield facility. Post-press systems, including a Gammerler set-up, are in the process of being installed.

Chief operating officer Peter Andreou said: “All the infrastructure is in place as are the first two presses. We expect to go into production on 28 September with the first press, and probably around mid-October with the second.”

Andreou described the suppliers involved – including Goss, Sun Chemical, Gammerler and Palm Paper – as “superb”.

“To see those two presses side-by-side and all the post-press equipment is amazing, it really is,” he said. “Jim Algar has done an incredible job as project director, and has hit all the milestones so far.”

A refurbished Ferag drum stitcher from Polestar’s former Varnicoat plant has also been installed at the Sheffield facility.

“When we closed Varnicoat we didn’t sell all the equipment because we knew we’d need it,” Andreou explained.

The huge project forms part of a £50m, six-press investment by the £239m turnover group.

A short-grain 64pp press will arrive in the next few weeks, and is scheduled to be operational early in the New Year.

Andreou added: “We are allowing a four-to-six week learning curve in order to optimise the new presses fully. Yes, we want to ramp up as quickly as possible, but we are taking a steady approach.”

While the Sheffield site has been under construction and the new kit installed there, the group has also de-commissioned and re-commissioned the M4000 press from Colchester at its Chantry site, and has also added a Muller Martini Corona binder to the Chantry set-up. Andreou said the binding line came out of Glynn Print Finishers.

“We are extremely busy but we are also very conscious that we need to focus on continuing to deliver. We have had all that going on in the background and it has been seamless.”

The group has recently taken over the entirety of IPC Media's magazine print work, which has necessitated placing some of its other existing work out to UK and continental printers until its new capacity comes on-stream. 

Separately, PrintWeek also understands that Polestar chief executive Barry Hibbert will be taking “a more active role” at the group’s Polestar Bicester site, formerly BGP.

Jim Mellon has been general manager at the site since the departure of Lindsay Atkinson in April. Andy Reynoldson who previously ran the Sheffield gravure factory and then Polestar Chromoworks is now the managing director at Bicester.




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