Tower Hamlets council tenders for 20m print framework

By Pamela Mardle, Monday 25 February 2013

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The London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) is on the hunt for five to eights UK printers to tender for a contract, worth up to 20m over four years, to produce publications for councils from across the capital.

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The contract will include printing of LBTH's weekly East End Life publication

LBTH plans to create a pan-London print framework agreement for itself and other public sector partners, initially including the London Borough councils of Greenwich, Brent, Havering, Hackney, Hounslow, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

The contract covers the supply of print, repro and electronic publication services, including publishing to smartphones via apps, for an array of weekly, fortnightly, monthly and quarterly publications.

Whilst five to eight companies will be invited to tender, the contract could be awarded to a "special purpose vehicle" (SPV), which will consist of one company as the lead supplier to the framework with the ability to outsource aspects of the contract such as distribution and online services to partner businesses.

The contract notice is open until 12pm on 13 March and the framework will start from 1 October 2013.

An LBTH spokesperson said that the contract had been estimated at a basic value of £5m across the duration of the framework should both parties opt to extend the 36-month contract to four years.

The estimate is based on the quantities required throughout previous contracts, the latest of which was held by Trinity Mirror for four years and supplied by its Watford print facility. The publisher said it intends to re-tender for the contract.

However, LBTH anticipates that local housing associations and voluntary sector partners, such a Tower Hamlets Homes, the London NHS Trust and St Bartholemew’s Hospital, could also join the framework, in which case the council estimates that the contract’s worth could grow to £20m across its duration.

While partners’ requirements will vary, LBTH expects that the print requirement for Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Greenwich and Waltham Forest alone should reach more than 15m copies each year.

It is estimated that each council will require average print runs of 106,000 weekly, fortnightly, month or quarterly publications. Multiple page documents between 20 and 44 pages in both tabloid and magazine format publications will be required using 42.5gsm to 54gsm and 65 to 80gsm stock respectively.

A council spokesperson said that LBTH was looking for "innovation" from its new print partner.

He said: "We are looking at digital publications and how suppliers can help us to reach that audience with the increased numbers of smart phone and tablet users. Print is the primary vehicle but perhaps we could look towards creating a publication that is compatible with smart phone applications and is internet accessible."

He added that the key difference between the current and proposed contract is the potential inclusion of further council bodies to ensure smarter procurement and value for money.

Due to the financial and political climate, this is an important aspect of the framework, he added, as publishers and the coalition government continue to protest against council-published freesheets.

Potential legislature that could reduce the number of circulating council publications or eliminate them altogether would be considered in the terms and conditions of the contract, he said.

The tender publication states that the minimum annual contract value should not exceed 25% of the candidate’s annual turnover.


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