Time Inc’s Guy Gleysteen has jetted into the UK to address the crisis in the publisher’s supply chain due to the situation at Polestar.
Gleysteen, who is senior vice president of production at the US-headquartered business, was behind the media group’s decision to move all its titles to Polestar in 2014, when Time Inc UK agreed a single source supplier deal with the print group.
Prior to that the circa £20m contract had been split between Polestar and Wyndeham Group.
Time Inc UK’s portfolio includes a raft of time-critical weeklies with large circulations. Its biggest title is What’s On TV, which had a circulation of 993,210 in the latest ABC report and is the UK’s second-largest actively purchased magazine.
Other large weeklies with substantial print runs include NME (300,000), Chat (262,643), and TV Times (219,196).
Time Inc’s women’s weeklies – Woman, Woman’s Own, and Woman’s Weekly – have a combined weekly sale of just under 700,000.
The group’s other flagship titles include glossy monthlies such as Marie Claire (137,840) and Ideal Home (159,184).
Gleysteen told PrintWeek: “Although this is a difficult circumstance we are working closely with the administrators as they seek a new buyer. Polestar's assets are a key part of the print market in the UK and we strongly believe that will continue.”
One senior print source said that the publisher was “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.
“They must be desperately trying to find someone to take the Polestar business on and run it. Anything else would involve massive disruption to them.”
The source said that if the Polestar magazine production sites in administration – Sheffield, Bicester and Chantry – ceased to operate then the knock-on impact would be immense. “It could end up being the case that some of their magazines wouldn’t be produced for a time,” he added.
Another issue for Time Inc and other publishers is paper, particularly for customers that were printing on Polestar’s gravure presses and its 96pp long-grain and 64pp short-grain web presses at Sheffield.
“It’s not easy to move these jobs because publishers have bought reel sizes specifically for Polestar’s presses. This is going to cause disruption to the marketplace for some time,” noted one manufacturer.
While it is possible to cut the reels down, this involves significant wastage.
Separately, PrintWeek understands that employees at Polestar’s Dunstable head office are braced for news of lay-offs today (29 April), although nothing had been officially confirmed at the time of writing.
A spokesman for PricewaterhouseCoopers said: “The administrators are considering the best course of action at the moment.”