By Jo Francis, Monday 13 November 2017
Walstead Group has bought one of the giant 96pp web offset presses previously installed at Polestar Sheffield.
The press, which is currently in storage on the continent, will be installed next year at Rotocobrhi, Walstead’s Spanish web offset plant near Madrid.
Rotocobrhi currently runs eight web presses: two 80pp, three 48pp and three 16pp models.
Walstead Group chief executive Paul Utting said that, despite the well-documented issues that Polestar had with the 96pp technology, the group was confident about its suitability.
“This is very exciting indeed and an opportunity too good to be missed, as it’s pretty much a new press,” he said.
“We know this press well as we were able to inspect it over an extended period while it was still running in Sheffield. Polestar had issues because they were running all sorts of work on there, but for us it will be primarily a long-run press for retail work.”
The Sunday 96pp will be fitted with an additional folder to allow it to produce a wider variety of sizes and configurations. Utting said the total investment would amount to around €10m (£8.9m) with the press expected to be up and running in Q3/Q4 2018.
“We did debate putting it into the UK, but the market here is dominated by publishing, whereas the retail market in continental Europe is really buoyant compared to publishing.
“We are very clear about the markets we want to target in Iberia and France, and of course any decision to invest in the UK is made more difficult with the uncertainty around Brexit,” he added.
The 2.86m-wide Goss Sunday press was part of Polestar’s ill-fated reinvention of its web offset platform, when it invested in a 64pp short-grain and two 96pp Goss presses for Sheffield.
Walstead Iberia chief executive José Camacho, who joined the group this time last year, said he was delighted at the vote of confidence in the business: “This ambitious plan will see Rotocobrhi strengthen its production and service capabilities, consolidating its leadership in the Iberian market, not only in the short term but also for the years to come”.
Walstead, which now has sales of around €490m, acquired Rotocobrhi and sister gravure plant Eurohueco from Bertelsmann in 2015.
The 96pp presses from the former Polestar site had initially been rumoured to be heading to a German printer, but PrintWeek understands this deal fell through.