Calendar printers speak out on Bank Holiday change

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 14 June 2019

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Two of the UK’s biggest calendar printers have spoken out about the impact on their businesses of the government’s decision to change the date of next year’s early May bank holiday.

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Rose Calendars is producing a 75th anniversary commemorative sticker set

The government announced last week that it would shift the date of the bank holiday set for Monday 4 May back to Friday 8 May, to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

For calendar and diary printers, some of which produce these products more than a year in advance of their start date, this late alteration has meant that many existing pages will need to be reprinted and replaced.

Cuffley, Hertfordshire-based Allan & Bertram told the BBC that around 400,000 of the calendars that it had already been printed would need to have the May 2020 pages replaced, costing the company around £200,000.

Allan & Bertram managing director Andrew Bennett told PrintWeek: “The announcement was made on Saturday, I met with the other directors on Sunday and we decided that we’d stop production first thing on Monday morning and start reprinting the new pages.

“The effect on production is colossal. Some were printed, bound and finished so they’ve got to be stripped back; others were printed and collated, so they’ve got to have months taken out; and some were printed but not collated. Lots of things were at different stages.”

He added: “We are entirely behind the VE Day celebrations; it should be done, and we should remember this. But it’s giving 11 months’ notice that is not acceptable when you’ve had 74 years to plan it. In May 1995 they changed the date [to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day], but they announced that in December 1993, which was no problem at all.

“The problem is that about three quarters of our stock is [already] printed and a quarter isn’t. If we corrected the calendars that aren’t printed yet and just changed the artwork, a lot of our clients would say that they’d just have the right ones. Why would they want the ones that are wrong with stickers on?

“Part of our brand ethos is quality and we have to be true to that. We have to make sure that it goes out right, and now that we know that it’s wrong, we have to take the decision to correct it.”

The company, which uses Heidelberg presses, Setmaster collators and Rilecart binding equipment, has employed extra temporary staff and said its team would be working double shifts to make the necessary changes.

The process of swapping out the individual pages for updated ones will need to be done manually.

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Colchester, Essex-based Rose Calendars, which produces around 2 million calendars a year on Manroland and Heidelberg presses, said it will “keep calm and carry on” following the government’s decision.

“It’s unprecedented that the government should make a decision at such short notice with under a year’s warning,” said managing director Michael Rose.

“For us it’s not unreasonable to expect that our 2020 calendars will already be going out to our customers as early as next month. We have quite a lot of customers overseas and in order to be able to meet their distribution deadline, they’ve asked for their deliveries to be from as early as July, so in order to meet their requirements we produce our calendars in advance.”

But Rose added there are opportunities provided by “the momentous and important anniversary in the history of this country and of Europe”.

As well as replacing the May month leaf in its calendars, it is producing a 75th anniversary commemorative sticker set.

“As a reminder of the date, these stickers can be used not only on calendars, but on other promotional materials to really highlight the event,” said Rose.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for people to commemorate VE Day and we love the fact that it’s highlighting calendars and dates and making something of the event.

“We pride ourselves on being up to date on current thinking and making calendars a relevant item for people in this day and age. In the digital world they still have a very big place for businesses; we hope that continues and we think an important date like this is a good way to highlight calendars as a relevant item for people.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it had "considered the practical implications of moving this bank holiday".

It is unclear at the time of writing whether there will be any opportunity for compensation.

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