Sheetfed magazine specialist Pensord is investing over £3.3m in highly automated kit as it rolls out a future-proofing strategy at the business centred on profitable capacity.
The South Wales-based business is set to install an eight-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106, with the full suite of 'Push to Stop' autonomous printing technology, and its second highly automated Stahlfolder TH 82-P.
“For once the folding equipment, in terms of its impact on the business, is just as exciting as the press. It’s a phenomenal piece of kit,” said Pensord managing director Darren Coxon.
Pensord, which runs a 24/7 operation, will keep its existing folders, but run them in dedicated formats, minimising makereadies.
The new 'Push to Stop' eight-colour perfector will replace an eight-year-old, eight-colour Heidelberg XL 105 and a three-year-old, 10-colour SX 102 – which was the first of its type in the UK.
Both the press and folder will be installed in August. The XL 105 will be dismantled at the end of July to make room for the new 106. Once the new press is up and running the SX will be decommissioned.
The firm will then become a two-press operation, retaining an existing five-year-old XL 106 eight-colour perfector with coater to run alongside the new 'Push to Stop' press. The plan is to in effect streamline each press to one folder.
Coxon said that while many companies invest to create additional capacity, swapping out the two presses for one was part of a strategic realignment to reduce capacity at the £12m-turnover business, but improve efficiencies and focus on delivering “outstanding value and service to a cherished group of Pensord clients”, rather than chase volume at any cost.
As a result, as well as investing heavily in new technology, the business is looking at slimming headcount at the 145-staff business.
“It’s great to be able to invest in the latest, most automated technology, but unfortunately it almost always affects jobs,” said Coxon.
The business is currently consulting with staff and union Unite.
Coxon wouldn’t be drawn on the number of potential job losses, but PrintWeek understands it is likely to involve between 10 and 20 roles.
“We have surplus capacity as an industry and as a business, and when you’re looking at selling in the current commercial market, the prices that some other printers are willing to do work for mean it’s pointless retaining that additional capacity only to fill up the presses with non-profitable work,” said Coxon.
“We wanted to cut our cloth to suit, and become more profitable by only chasing sensible margin work rather than just turnover.”
Pensord is working closely with Unite to minimise the job losses, and is hopeful the majority of the redundancies will be voluntary.
Unite regional officer Richard Jackson said: “We have been working hard to ensure our members affected by redundancy at Pensord are treated fairly and receive the best possible support. We are pleased that the majority of redundancies have been filled voluntarily and that through positive discussion, the numbers have been reduced through the inclusion of more flexible working roles.”
“Whilst we are always concerned when people leave their jobs, we understand the increasing level of automation in the print industry, and have been satisfied that the Pensord management team are doing all they can to help the people concerned, with the aim of protecting the business in the longer term.”
Pensord Press also owns Cambrian Printers, which it acquired last year, the two businesses employ a total of just over 200 staff generating sales of more than £19m.