NewsCorp is to close one of the three sites it built as part of a massive ‘late Noughties’ commitment to printed newspapers, confronting the fall in circulations and advertising.
Newsprinters managing director Darren Barker says the decision to close the Knowsley, Merseyside plant follows an extensive review. Work would be transferred to News sites at Glasgow (Eurocentral) and London (Broxbourne), “retaining UK-wide print and distribution capability for News UK and other clients.
While he said publication of mastheads currently produced would not be affected, there is industry speculation that distribution schedules would need revision.
UK trade magazine Printweek said that “at least two” of the Knowsley presses are currently mothballed. It reported speculation that some work could be handled by DMG Media’s Dinnington print site near Sheffield.
Barker says the decision was a difficult one to reach. “However, this proposal is aimed at strengthening our ability to provide long term sustainability to the print and distribution services we provide to clients across the industry.
“News UK remains committed to print and will continue to invest in both the quality journalism our readers want and our print production and distribution capability serving both in-house and third party clients.”
Opened in 2006 close to the M6 motorway as part of a billion-dollar investment in print, Knowsley has five of the 19 triple-wide manroland newspaper presses bought to deliver all-colour papers to a then growing print audience.
Set up as a separate News UK subsidiary, Newsprinters became the country’s dominant newspaper printer, picking up orders for the Telegraph, London Evening Standard, Metro and Daily Mail as well as for News mastheads such as The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times. Not to mention the News of the World, killed following the UK phone-hacking scandal.
There are currently five Colorman XXL presses capable of printing up to 430,000 120-page full colour tabloids an hour, with plates from five Agfa Advanatage platesetters capable of up imaging up to 1460 plates an hour. Press facilities include closed loop automatic density control, on-press stitching and inline gluing.
A five-line Ferag-equipped mailroom includes MTS multistackers, Mosca strappers, and five high speed DAN palletisers with pallet wrappers. There are also two Ferag trimming and polywrapping lines, one with stitching and the other with inserting facilities.