Walstead begins talks over Southernprint closure
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Walstead plans to close its Southernprint web offset site due to declining magazine volumes, and has entered into a 45-day consultation with the workforce at the factory.
The Poole factory employs 179 staff. Walstead acquired Southernprint from Newsquest Media Group just over ten years ago.
Walstead cited the overall substantial reduction in magazine printing volumes as the reason behind the proposed closure, despite the group winning new business.
The group said that volumes had effectively halved between 2011 and 2018, with further contraction taking place this year and expected for 2020.
In a statement chief executive Paul Utting said: “It has only been after much consideration that the decision to consult with the workforce at Walstead Southernprint has been taken and we very much regret the potential loss of jobs if no alternatives are found.
“However, the UK’s web offset printing sector continues to face significant structural issues and ongoing reduction in capacity is inevitable. We are determined to restructure our business to ensure that we remain competitive and can continue to provide a sustainable business to our clients during the cycle.”
The Southernprint site is the group’s smallest and is size-constrained compared with Walstead’s other UK operations at Roche, Bicester and Peterborough.
“This is sad but not unexpected. It always looked most likely to close,” said an industry source.
All of the work currently produced in Poole could be absorbed by the group’s three other sites.
Southernprint runs 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.
The factory prints for a range of publishers including Immediate Media, TI Media, Bauer Consumer Media, and John Brown Media.
Earlier this year Walstead shut its Grange sheetfed site for the same reasons, and also trimmed shifts at Bicester.