Archant has announced plans for a major £12.5m investment in the printing and production capacity at its Thorpe Print Centre near Norwich.
£12.5m print investment boost
Two new printing towers and extra finishing and mailing room facilities will be added to the £25m centre which opened in 1995 and 14 new jobs will be created.
The centre prints around 70 different publications including three daily titles, the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times and Evening News along with well-known Archant titles such as the Hampstead & Highgate Express and the South Essex Recorders.
The work, which follows a strategic review of Archant printing operations, will be completed by December 2004.
Archant Print managing director Peter Dodds said: "Within two years of bringing the Thorpe Print Centre into production in 1995, demand had increased to such an extent that a third shift was recruited to cope with round-the-clock printing schedules.
"Some 3.5m papers and supplements are now printed each week and with our Archant newspaper publishing colleagues planning to launch many more new titles and editions, a new press-line is much needed. The additional capacity is also designed to address their adverting customers ever increasing need for more colour availability."
Archant chief executive John Fry said: "We have experienced a significant growth in demand for print from our own companies who have been producing innovative new publications in recent years. This is a major investment in our core newspaper publishing business and will enable us to produce larger papers with more supplements and also to offer greater colour availability."
The two new state-of-the-art Goss tower presses will enlarge the printing capacity at Thorpe by 50% and take it to a total of six printing towers, three newspaper folders and ten reelstands. The future need for additional capacity was factored into the planning of the original print centre design when it was built and its foundations are ready to accept the two new additional 88-tonne towers.
Mr Dodds said: "Although the investment represents a major works project, the latest shaftless technology will enable the new towers to be installed with the minimum of disruption to current production operations and will improve the finished products."
The new capacity will also include other proven state-of-the-art technology such as digital inking and automatic register control. These will also be retrofitted to the existing presses and result in significant improvements in colour quality and consistency and press running performance.
A 50% increase in supplement and magazine inserting capability is also planned for post press operations, which will see major efficiency benefits through the installation of an automated palletising plant and a second automated stitch and trim magazine finishing line.