THE FUTURE OF BUTLER TANNER & DENNIS rests on the shoulders of a “great big grey brute” Felix Dennis told an audience of publishers and staff at an open day to celebrate the installation of a Speedmaster XL 162.
The first press of its type in the UK is going to allow the Frome book printer to offer something unique to UK customers, Dennis, who stepped in to rescue Butler & Tanner almost three years ago, told guests.
He was joined by Sir Robin Miller, former head of Emap and now non executive chairman of BT&D, at the ceremony. He took over when Dennis decided to step back from a direct role in the business. “Felix believed in the future of this company and so do I. The market is not easy but there is something here that is quite different. Manufacturing is a fascinating project,” said Sir Robin.
THE COMPANY IS THE ONLY SIGNIFICANT printer of colour books in the UK and is gearing up for the Christmas market, where cookbooks will once again feature highly. It is also printing an increasing volume of maps on the back of winning the Ordnance Survey contract.
The new press, a six colour plus coater, joins two KBA Rapidas at the plant. It is increasingly geared towards short run production, with sheets from the Heidelberg workable immediately thanks to the coating added inline. Heavy duty dryers ensure that even on the full sheet format, the press will run at 15,000cph. Make readies are 15 minutes with Inpress Control managing colour consistency across sections and for reprints.
THE NEW PRESS IS THE CULMINATION of £6.5 million invested in the plant since the rescue by Felix Dennis. This has improved bindery, digital print, platemaking and now litho. All have been geared to meeting a changing market for colour books, where publishers have increasingly sought to use Chinese suppliers.
At the launch, Heidelberg sales director Jim Todd added: “It was great to see just how proud the staff are of their company and this new press, the first Speedmaster VLF installation in the UK.”
HEIDELBERG UK HAS LAGGED BEHIND other sales areas for the company in terms of VLF presses. Machines have been installed in most other European countries, North America and China. BT&D began looking at the press shortly after the rescue, realising that it needed a fast make ready large format press to compete in a changing book market. The inline coater was crucial to the deal.”