Bishops in major £3m kit upgrade

By Max Goldbart, Wednesday 22 March 2017

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Commercial printer Bishops Printers has invested around £3m in a variety of kit, including a new Speedmaster.

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The new kit is now all fully operational

The Portsmouth-based outfit brought in a new 10-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75, a used five-colour Speedmaster SX 74, a new Kolbus perfect binding line and a Stahlfolder, in a spend that reaffirms its managing director Gareth Robert’s commitment to continuous investment and his aim for sales of £26.5m by the end of this year. 

The XL 75 amounted to around half the investment, with the Kolbus, SX and the folder coming in at circa £950,000, £350,000 and £90,000 respectively.

All kit is now fully operational, with the SX and Kolbus coming in to £25m-turnover Bishops’ main 8,400sqm premises in the last week of January, the XL 75 in the first week of February and the folder around two weeks ago.

Roberts said: “I’ve been with the business for 22 years and have been fortunate enough to grow the company with my colleagues from a business turning over less than £1m to now and we’ve always felt we could do the right things to look after customers and grow in what you have to accept is a shrinking market.

“So on the one hand if I look at the news it makes someone like me think I should batten down the hatches and take it steady but I do think you get benefits and strength in the long term from being confident enough to invest and to do so in a measured and sensible fashion.”

The two Speedmasters replace an outgoing SM 74 and an outgoing five-colour SM model. The SX 74, which was a late addition as Bishops was initially going to keep its SM model and have it refurbished, is an ex-demo machine supplied by Albion machinery, who Roberts said had been “helpful, smooth and professional”.

“What we wanted was the benefit with makeready times and running speeds that we had seen from our last two XLs,” he said.

“The software has improved on the XL and the usability is great. Usually I don’t expect to see the benefit of a new machine immediately because it takes time to bed down but it’s been almost instant.” 

Roberts first saw the new Kolbus at Drupa 2016 and after a couple of trips to Germany settled on the model and decided to retain Bishops’ existing Wohlenberg perfect binding line.

He added: “The perfect binder has significant differences on the existing machine, especially with makeready times, which are really important to us as our average order value [run length] is less than 1,000. I estimate we’ll get almost an hour between makereadies’ improvement and we’re probably doing around seven jobs per day.”

With the addition of the new kit, Bishops has so far recruited 13 new staff this year, taking headcount to just over 260, which Roberts said should work out as proportionally less than the aimed turnover increase. Roberts described the turnover aim as a “challenging but reasonable objective”.

The firm's litho battery now includes six B2 long-perfectors, which run alongside a raft of post-press and digital kit. Its last big spend of £1.6m saw the arrival of an XL 75 and a Stahlfolder

It also has a smaller premises housing its 2,800sqm fulfilment subsidiary, The Mailing People.

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