Prinovis UK is adding web offset to its production facilities with the purchase of the 16pp Goss M600A hybrid web offset press from the shuttered G&H site.
The Liverpool-based gravure printer had used G&H as one of its subcontractors for cover printing, and the buy means the company can now bring a portion of this work in-house. The press was acquired from Close Brothers Asset Finance after G&H went into receivership at the end of last month.
Prinovis managing director Richard Gray told PrintWeek that the business had looked at potentially entering the web offset market in the past, and that changes in the market and the crisis at G&H had spurred the decision.
“Fundamentally, we are buying this 16pp web press to secure production for our covers,” he explained. “Our suppliers in that market are gradually reducing, and we need to secure our supply chain and be in control of that.”
He said the firm did not intend to bring all of its cover printing in-house. “I don’t see it as eradicating our need for partners. Some covers are not suited to web and tend to be produced with CutStar sheetfed presses,” he said.
The highly-automated M600 is four-years-old and is unique in the UK in that it is fitted with eight Kodak Prosper S20 inkjet heads to allow full-colour inkjet printing inline. It is understood to be the first press within the Bertelsmann Printing Group that has this facility, although the group runs a number of digital presses and imprinting systems.
“It’s a really nice press and the four-colour personalisation makes it very interesting. And it’s not very far from us.” Gray added.
The M600 will be relocated to an existing space within the giant Prinovis supersite in Speke and is expected to be up and running in Q1 2019. Prinovis has also acquired the associated Kodak platemaking kit. The total investment including installation and flooring works was around £4m.
Prinovis is in the process of deciding whether to add an inline UV coater to the press.
The M600 will run 24/5 once installed, and Prinovis is likely to take on a number of former G&H employees as part of the expansion. The press will require a crew of around ten, although the firm already has web print expertise within its existing workforce.
Gray said that, as well as cover printing, the smaller format web press would also provide the business with additional flexibility to take on work that it cannot currently handle on its large gravure presses.
“It broadens our offering for our existing client base. We think we’ll be able to offer our clients something a bit different, such as personalised covers or work for markets we’re not currently active in. For example, in retail we produce for Aldi but we don’t currently do any personalisation,” he explained.
The firm also intends to keep in touch with former G&H retail clients that had used the special capabilities of the press, such as Nisa.
In addition, Gray said Prinovis was exploring the opportunity to reduce lead times by producing inserts for publishing clients in-house.
“We currently handle 1.5bn inserts and onserts a year for our periodical clients. In a world where the options for production of those particular items is reducing, it makes sense for us to be able to produce in-house and potentially reduce lead times, which makes print more competitive with digital media. Our clients are very interested in this,” he added.
The company could potentially add a second web press if the new offering takes off.
“Obviously we would love to be in a position where the press is full and there is an opportunity to grow the market further. We want to grow the market rather than take work off others,” Gray stated.
Prinovis, which became the UK's only remaining publication gravure printer after Polestar collapsed in 2016, had sales of £67.6m in the year to 31 December 2016. The company employs 476 staff and around 100 contractors. It runs three 4.32m-wide KBA gravure presses and one 2.75m model and prints for major publishers and newspaper groups including News UK, DMG Media, and The Telegraph Group, and also prints Hello! and OK! magazines.
It installed an additional Ferag inserting and stitching drum late last year, and also has in-house perfect binding.
Goss, which recently merged with Manroland Web Systems, claims that the M600 is the best-selling 16pp press in the world.