Prinovis reshapes to cut operating costs

Jo Francis
Thursday, October 21, 2021

Prinovis UK is moving from 24/7 to 24/5 operation – but with the option to scale back up at peak periods – as part of a restructure following the loss of the DMG Media supplements last month.

Prinovis UK plans to run from Monday afternoon through to late on Saturday
Prinovis UK plans to run from Monday afternoon through to late on Saturday

The Liverpool firm is the UK’s sole publication gravure printer. It announced the proposals to staff yesterday (20 October), and said the restructure would “ensure that a healthy, well invested and financially viable business remains in the market for the foreseeable future”.

“Prinovis will continue to supply those customers that value quality, reliability and innovation in their printed communications. We thank them for their continued business,” the firm said in a statement. 

It is consulting with the workforce and Unite the union on redundancies as a result, with up to 90 roles at risk of redundancy, around 20% of its workforce.

The firm had already trimmed its headcount last year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of employees at the 65,000sqm Speke supersite falling from 470 to 437. 

Managing director Richard Gray said the action was sad but necessary. 

He told Printweek: “The rationale is really straightforward. Volumes in general have reduced and we have to manage our costs in line with that. We can’t just have capacity sitting there with manpower on it.” 

Under the new plans production will run from Monday afternoon through to late on Saturday, with the option to flex and return to 24/7 operation at peak periods. 

The change will be implemented from early November. 

Gray also said that the move to 24/5 would help the business optimise its energy use amid the current energy price crisis afflicting a wide range of industries, including print and paper. It will also help to minimise energy-related price increases or surcharges for the firm’s clients.

Prinovis UK used 147.9m/kWh of energy last year. It generates more than 95% of its own electricity via a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system that uses gas turbines, and also has a huge solar panel installation on its roof.  

“We see an opportunity to improve our energy efficiency because we can turn our gas turbine off for two days a week,” Gray explained.

“With what we’re seeing now with energy prices, why wouldn’t we make sure that we’re running at the maximum point of efficiency, with the right number of machines running for the right amount of time?” he added. 

Unite national officer Louisa Bull commented: “We are in consultation now. We have a decent relationship with Prinovis and will do our best to work with them on these proposals, with a voluntary redundancy programme first. Unless someone does something about energy and paper prices, they won't be the last company we're talking to.”

The Daily Mail’s Saturday Weekend supplement and Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, involving some 2.5m magazines a week, moved to YM Group at the end of last month. 

A number of commercial print jobs are understood to have moved out of YM since, as the business absorbed the additional time-critical weekly volume across its Chantry, York Mailing and Pindar Scarborough plants. 

Gray confirmed that Prinovis had picked up some additional commercial work in the UK market and also from the continent, but said it would not be appropriate to comment on the details. 

Its biggest single client is News UK, with the contract to produce its supplements understood to run until 2024. 

In its statement, Prinovis UK reiterated its position: “Once again we would like to emphasise that these measures are a positive step to ensure the long-term viability of the business and we expect to see others in our market making similar changes in the coming months.”

The company prints magazines, brochures and catalogues and also offers mailing and logistics services. It runs four gravure presses with print widths of 2.75m-4.32m, and added a high-spec 16pp web offset press in 2019. It also has in-house stitching, perfect binding, polywrapping and paper banding.

In the pandemic-impacted 2020 financial year the firm posted sales down 20.6% at just over £53m, and filed a pre-tax loss of £6.5m which included a £3.1m impairment charge against its printing assets, and one-off restructuring/redundancy costs of £3.2m. 

The business is part of the Germany-headquartered Bertelsmann Printing Group, which had already flagged a drop in sales at its German, French and UK gravure printing markets in the first half of this year. 

 

 

 

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