Walstead results hit by paper price rises


Sales at Walstead have breached the €500m barrier but profits are down after the group battled against falling print budgets and rising paper prices last year.

The group’s results for the year ending 31 December 2018 include three months’ contribution from the €200m (£172m) turnover LSC Communications business acquired in September, now Walstead Central Europe, and six months’ of business from Austria’s NP Druck, acquired last June and now part of the Walstead Leykam division.

Sales increased be 8.6% to €520.5m, but EBITDA fell by 8.9% to €47m.

Chairman Mark Scanlon described the results as “commendable” in the face of adverse market conditions.

“For the first time in many years, the sector suffered substantial price increases for paper which resulted in print budgets being reduced to counter these higher costs,” he said.  

“This dynamic then created print capacity at many of our competitors who reacted by reducing prices to attract new work to fill their presses. We expect trading in 2019 to remain challenging but not, hopefully, to the degree encountered in 2018.”

Pro-forma sales are around €700m, and the group now employs 3,700 staff. It runs 65 web offset presses and four gravure presses across its UK and continental manufacturing operations. The business was a new entrant in the Sunday Times Top Track 250 list last year

Scanlon said Walstead remained on the lookout for further acquisitions, and would continue to “keep a firm grip on costs to ensure our margins and competitiveness are maintained”.

He said the group was still reviewing future options for the business with NM Rothschild.

The group’s UK print operations were rebranded as Walstead at the beginning of the year, and it has since announced plans to close 59-employee sheetfed site Grange Press in West Sussex.

Chief operating officer Roy Kingston confirmed the Grange closure was going ahead. “The shutdown will be staggered, and production will cease in late April,” he said.

The work previously produced at Grange is being transferred to Walstead Roche in Cornwall.

 

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