Walstead diversifies with short-grain web

Jo Francis
Monday, February 15, 2021

Walstead Group is investing in a short-grain web press for its Spanish gravure facility as part of a strategic plan to diversify the site’s offering.

The Lithoman IIIS will be refurbished by Manroland Goss prior to installation
The Lithoman IIIS will be refurbished by Manroland Goss prior to installation

The group’s Eurohueco site near Barcelona currently runs four 2.7m-wide gravure presses.

Walstead is investing around €4m (£3.5m) in a Lithoman IIIS web press. The press has come from the liquidated Körner Druck business in Germany.

It has a maximum web width of 1,980mm and a cut-off of 890mm. The specification includes two formers, four stitchers, 10 gluing heads and two delivery lines.

José Maria Camacho, CEO of Walstead Iberia, said he was delighted that the group had approved the plan.

“This investment means Eurohueco will operate a unique press in the southern European market and it is the start of the plant’s transformation into a hybrid technology printing site that will allow us to serve the increasingly complex and changing needs of our customers in the short, medium and long term,” he said.

The Lithoman is a latest-generation press capable of printing at up to 70,000iph, and will be refurbished prior to installation.

“It will be dismantled, taken to the Manroland Goss plant at Augsburg, fully refurbished and retrofit, and then reinstalled in Barcelona,” he explained.

Preparatory works at the site will begin imminently, with installation planned for early May, and commissioning scheduled for September.

“We expect to run the press already for the high season in the last quarter of the year,” Camacho added.

Walstead Group chief executive Paul Utting said Eurohueco was a “very efficient and productive” operation.

“With this investment we are confident that it will remain the printer of choice for many retailers and publishers in France, Spain and Portugal. This printing press is the first step and we expect to install additional web offset equipment in due course,” he said.

Walstead said Eurohueco would become one of just a few plants in Europe to offer a hybrid rotogravure and heatset web offset proposition.

Its four gravure presses will be retained for the time being.

“This will be an add-on press. Despite the reduction of rotogravure volume in the market, we still have work for four presses a number of months in the year and we will run the four gravure presses alongside the web offset machines for as long as we have work,” Camacho added.

“In the future, the plan is to add additional web offset capacity and replace gravure presses if the demand for that technology does not require for that capacity anymore.”

Walstead had overall sales of €675m in 2019 and employs around 3,000 staff.  Turnover at the Iberia operation was €110m.

Eurohueco is the group’s only gravure site. It runs 61 web offset presses across its other operations in the UK and on the continent.

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