YM in ‘perfect storm’

Jo Francis
Thursday, November 18, 2021

A high-level team from DMG Media held an emergency meeting at YM Chantry yesterday, with the print group battling against another breakdown on a key press.

YM: absorbing DMG's supplements has had a knock-on effect on commercial work
YM: absorbing DMG's supplements has had a knock-on effect on commercial work

Printweek understands that the KBA Compacta 818 at the Wakefield site has been out of action since Tuesday 9 November, due to a drive issue on the superstructure that has proved difficult to rectify. 

The press usually prints a number of time-sensitive weeklies.

Sources close to the situation said that DMG Media group production director Julia Palmer-Poucher and production manager Brian Lamb met with YM Group CEO Stephen Goodman, group publications director James Povey, and York Mailing works director Steve Marshall who has also headed up Chantry since Jim Algar departed last month. 

Group managing director Peter Greaves was unable to attend as he is currently on holiday.

Although one YM insider said that it was “not a crisis meeting”, and Palmer-Poucher had “popped in” while visiting DMGT’s nearby Dinnington newspaper printing site, a source close to the situation said it was highly unusual for Goodman to meet clients in this way. 

Since YM started printing the weekend supplements for the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday six weeks ago, the business has been plagued by breakdowns and other production issues. The previously mothballed M4000 is understood to be running now, although it has experienced a fault on its folder. 

An informed source commented: “They are constantly late on deliveries and You and Weekend have not hit full collection yet – not once.”

Work has been shifted to York Mailing and Pindar as a result of absorbing the DMG titles and the KBA breakdown. This is having a knock-on effect on other jobs, particularly for commercial clients.

“They are letting down their commercial customer base to keep DMG happy, yet despite that DMG aren’t happy either,” the source added.

YM is known to have run late on a number of time-critical seasonal promotions, and has also gone so far as to hand some jobs back to customers. 

One customer told Printweek: “I wanted to support them and I have tried to support them, but they have let me down.”

At what is the traditional peak period for web offset printing, other printers including Acorn Web Offset, Ancient House, GD Web Offset, Warners Midlands, Swan Print and Communisis Chorleys are believed to have picked up work as a result. 

Some work has also ended up being printed on the continent, with Em de Jong known to be one beneficiary.

“It would be bad enough if the KBA was down for nine or ten hours, for it to be down for nine days is a catastrophe,” the source added. 

“In a couple of weeks’ time they will also have the Christmas issue pull-forwards. It’s a perfect storm.”

Printweek has approached Goodman for comment. 

Printweek also understands that YM’s backer Pricoa has recently injected further funding into the business, which had sales of £114.8m and made a pre-tax loss of £8.3m in its most recent accounts, for the year to 31 May 2020. 

YM is currently recruiting for a number of positions including Ferag operators, shift managers, bindery operators, experienced printers, and mechanical and electrical engineers.

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