Desmond opens Luton newspaper plant

By Jo Francis, Tuesday 29 November 2011

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Media mogul Richard Desmond officially launched the Express Group's purpose-built print facility in Luton last night (28 November).

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Desmond pushed the button to get the plant's first press up and running as the Daily Star was printed at the plant for the first time.

Three more KBA Commander CT presses will be installed at the plant between now and March, when it will switch over all Daily Star and Daily Express titles currently printed at its Westferry plant.

The company also confirmed at the event that it will continue with its £100m investment in presses by upgrading its Preston-based Broughton Printers plant, with confirmation of the successful vendors expected in early 2012.

Commenting on the plant, Westferry Printers chief executive David Broadhurst said: "This demonstrates our faith in our national newspapers going forward for the next two decades."

The presses have been built specifically with innovation in mind and dryers can be added, which would enable the plant to print heatset and coldset, which would enable it to print its own magazines.

Speaking to PrintWeek at the opening, Broadhurst said: "If we opt to take the dryers that will happen in phase two, which won't be for at least a year. It is something we have considered but we will have to make sure it is worthwhile doing it."

Broadhurst added that the company's existing magazine contract, held by BGP, would come to an end in around three years' time, a similar timeframe to the introduction of dryers.

He added: "Another thing we are looking at is putting an eight-page glossy wrap around our newspapers."

Also at the event Desmond was asked about the possibility of contract printing at the plant, to which he replied "I hope so, we've got the capacity".

However, he denied rumours that he planned to move editorial and advertising up to the Luton.

He was also asked what he planned to do with the Docklands-based Westferry plant once it was decommissioned. He said: "I thought it would be nice to have a big statue of me there."



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