RR Donnelley’s Flaxby Moor, North Yorkshire print site is set to close at the end of the year, with an anticipated loss of around 200 jobs.
The web offset factory was set up in 2000 to print telephone books including the Yellow Pages and other directory type products for both the UK and foreign markets.
More recently the plant, which is thought to have struggled recently due to changing market trends in the sector, has also printed the Avon catalogue, a contract which it won from Pindar in 2010. PrintWeek understands the contract is up for renewal again next year.
In a statement, the company said: “It is with regret that we have announced our proposal to close the Flaxby Moor facility. We propose to cease production by 31 December 2015.
“We will now enter into a process of consultation with our employees and their representatives and ensure that we fully meet our obligations in this respect.
“Further, we understand that this announcement places our employees and their families in a period of uncertainty and we will attempt to support and provide reasonable assistance through the process.”
Union Unite is due to hold talks with the management at the Flaxby plant in a bid to secure as many jobs as possible and to determine the causes for the closure.
Unite regional officer Chris Daly said: “This is a bitter blow for the workforce and their families as well as the local economy. These are well-paid jobs that are under threat and won’t be easily replicated in rural North Yorkshire.
“We are due to have a meeting with the management next week – the day has yet to be confirmed – with a view to securing the best deal possible for our members. Obviously, we would like to secure all the jobs under threat.
“We are not sure at this stage what has precipitated the closure announcement.”
Daly added that one of the avenues Unite will be discussing is redeployment of Flaxby Moor's staff to another of RR Donnelley’s UK sites.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to support our members at what is a traumatic time for them,” he added.
PrintWeek understands the plant currently operates two Manroland Uniset 64pp web presses and a Goss Sunday 2000 24pp web press as well as a 30-year-old Manroland Lithoman press, which has been moved over from a Canadian site in the past two years.
One industry source said: “It's a shame. RR Donnelley is a massive global operation with printing facilities in Poland and all sorts of other places and they've probably got a lot of spare capacity due to the work they do.
“The whole site was specifically for producing the Yellow Pages and of course most of that catalogue is now online. There is still a Yellow Pages book but it's declined dramatically.
"They are specialist and they're not really involved with what the rest of the web market are doing but it's a shame and a sign of the times.”
The move is the latest blow for the UK web offset sector, which has already seen a major capacity loss recently with the closures of Artisan Press and Woodford Litho, while Westdale Press recently sold its only web offset press to an Italian printer.
US-headquartered RR Donnelley’s three UK operations are £215m-turnover BPO business RR Donnelley Global Document Solutions Group; £28.3m-turnover RR Donnelley UK Directory, which includes Flaxby Moor; and £26m-turnover financial print wing RR Donnelley (UK).
The print giant, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, is set to break itself up into three businesses that will each be publicly traded entities, a move which it expects to be completed by the end of next year.