Southernprint wind-down underway

Jo Francis
Thursday, December 19, 2019

Walstead Southernprint will cease most of its operations at the end of the year, following closure talks that began in November.

Southernprint: site closure due to declining magazine volumes
Southernprint: site closure due to declining magazine volumes

The group had entered into a 45 day consultation over closure plans for the Poole-based web offset business, its smallest site, citing the overall reduction in magazine printing volumes.

The site had 179 employees. Southernprint's plant list includes three web offset presses: an M600 cover press, 48pp M4000 and 72pp Lithoman. It has two Muller Martini Corona perfect binders and a Tempo stitching line.

Printing was originally slated to stop on 21 December, but this has been extended until the year-end, with a “small number” of bindery staff continuing to work into the New Year, explained Walstead group chief executive Paul Utting.

“What we are doing is a necessary consequence of the reduction in magazine volumes. I wish it wasn’t like that but we’ve got to deal with the reality,” he said.

“I feel very sad as I have fond memories of working there myself, in my first senior job in the industry. Sadly it is the right thing to do for the rest of the business.”

Utting said he was “optimistic” that titles printed at Southernprint would remain with the group. The factory worked for a range of publishers including Immediate Media, TI Media, Bauer Consumer Media, and John Brown Media.

“We are having intense conversation with customers and are generally confident we will retain the work. Most of it is going to Bicester and Roche.”

Southernprint managing director Paul Toms remains with the group. He is also managing director of Walstead Roche in Cornwall, and has an additional remit as UK performance director with an improvement brief across all of its sites.

Walstead Group is the biggest web offset printer in Europe with turnover of €519.5m (£442m) last year, of which €147.3m was in the UK.

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