Possible rescue deal at Polestar Chantry

Jo Francis
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Workers at Polestar Chantry have agreed to new terms and conditions that could pave the way for new ownership and save more than 150 jobs at the site – and the potential purchaser is also interested in Polestar Bicester.

YM Group is in the frame to take over the Wakefield web offset site, with the proviso that staff at the business accepted revised terms and conditions that would make its offer viable.

At a chapel meeting yesterday workers voted to accept the deal. A source told PrintWeek that the new terms included a 16% pay cut for printers and a 5% pay cut for bindery workers, together with a flexible shift pattern in the bindery.

Some workers at Chantry have contracts that date back to the old Watmoughs era, with terms that had proved a stumbling block for potential purchasers of the plant.

Chantry currently runs six web offset presses from 16pp-72pp format, five Muller Martini perfect binding lines, and Sitma mailing kit.

While it has ageing presses, the site is renowned for the quality of print and binding it produces, with some of Polestar’s publishing clients preferring to print there than on the new presses at Sheffield.

YM Group chief executive Stephen Goodman told PrintWeek: “We hope to complete the deal over the next few working days. We have put an offer in for Chantry and also Bicester – ideally we’d like to acquire both.”

Up until now Wyndeham Group owner Walstead Investments has been seen as the most likely buyer for Bicester, and is understood to still be in negotiations with administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers about the Oxfordshire facility.

Goodman also confirmed that YM Group, which owns York Mailing in York, Pindar in Scarborough, and Lettershop in Leeds, is also potentially interested in buying the 64pp Goss short-grain press at Polestar Sheffield.

The press could be relocated to Chantry or to York Mailing, according to a source.

If the deal for Chantry goes ahead, it will involve a major move into magazine printing for YM Group.

“The dynamics of the market have changed, and we believe that publications is a market we can expand into with good growth opportunities for our business,” Goodman added.

Chantry currently employs around 170 staff. More than 130 workers have been laid off at the site since Polestar UK Print went into administration in April.

Goodman became chief executive at YM Group after the MBO at the £100m group last September.

 

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