LONDON • APRIL 2023: Walstead today announces it has signed a five-year contract with News UK to print its entire portfolio of weekly newspaper supplements for The Saturday Times, The Sunday Times and Sun on Sunday. The deal, which involves all titles being printed at Walstead’s Bicester facility, will transition from April with full production of all commencing on 1 July 2023.
The contract award follows a tender process which concluded at the end of 2022. Since then, Walstead has been working with News UK on a comprehensive transition plan that comprises several key workstreams that have been created to ensure a smooth transition from the incumbent printer’s gravure process to Walstead’s heatset web offset platform.
In addition to the transition planning, Walstead has invested in substantial capital expenditure at Bicester. Newly-installed equipment includes a Goss M600 cover press with six units and UV in-line varnishing, and a Ferag Unidrum stitching line which brings the total number of high-speed stitching lines at the site to five. Walstead will also be expanding its shortgrain capacity with the installation of a completely refurbished Goss S5000 64pp press. These two presses and the Ferag were acquired from the Administrator of YM Group, following its closure in 2022. Other equipment being installed includes two Sitma paper banding lines which were used by News UK’s incumbent printer.
Alan McCann, publishing operations director, News UK, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Walstead, who have successfully printed a number of News UK magazine publications for over ten years, and we look forward to developing this relationship further as part of the new printing agreement.”
Paul Utting, chief executive officer, Walstead Group, said: “We are delighted to have secured this prestigious portfolio of titles which adds to the ever-growing list of blue-chip brands produced by Walstead. This contract further endorses our market-leading position for high-volume publications and adds to the growing number of newspaper supplements secured by the group in the past 18 months. We have developed a strong relationship with News UK but this contract expands that relationship significantly and we are thrilled to have been entrusted with this responsibility.”