16 June 2019 Print Companies

Date change puts calendar and diary publishers in a quandry

The Government's late decision to shift the date of the early May bank holiday has publishers weeping and some printers anticipating a spate of re-orders.

A late change to Bank Holiday dates next year is causing problems for calendar publishers, but less so for calendar printers.

If publishers choose to reprint printers can look forward to a hay-day rather than complications because the Government has shifted the date of the first May Bank Holiday to recognise the 75th anniversary of VE Day, 8 May, rather than the more traditional 1 May celebration.

The announcement on 8 June, with just 11 months ahead of time rather than the more conventional 18-24 months, led to leading calendar producer Allan & Bertram to choose to reprint almost its entire 2020 stock. This amounts to £500,000 of goods the company says with a £200,000 bill to pay for reprints and to bring in staff to cope. It publishes 32 titles in a variety of sizes, from wall calendars to desktop, amounting to 400,000 calendars to replace or correct.

"We totally agree that it is right to celebrate VE day and moving the bank holiday seems entirely sensible but waiting so late is just unacceptable,” says managing director Andrew Bennett. “We are now having to reprint vast amounts of stock to ensure our calendars are correct. As with all calendar manufacturers, our stock is prepared well in advance and almost everything is printed for 2020. It is hugely frustrating, and we feel that the Government simply hasn’t considered the implications. This change could have easily been decided a year ago, but it wasn’t, and we are faced with dealing with the consequences. We considered various options including stickers and inserts but as the manufacturers we simply can’t let our range leave the factory knowing that it’s wrong.

"If 75% went out the door with a sticker and 25% were correct on delivery, what would be the response of our customers?" It would certainly be more vocal than government officials. When Bennett contacted the DoBEIS there was no explanation nor any kind of reply. "Nobody has taken responsibility or confirmed how the decision was made," he says.

Printing is carried out by Barley Print on the same premises in Cuffley, Herts, where the company reckons to print 600,000 calendars a year. Most will be over printed with the name of a corporate customer closer to the end of the year before shipping to clients. The first of these was due to go out this week says Bennett. "The timing could not have been worse for us."

The need to decollate, reprint and then hand insert the new pages contributes to putting the company eight weeks behind its schedule. And putting the work back on press will also mean that other work at Barley will have to be shuffled and additional shifts added. "We will be playing catch up until the end of the year," he adds.

Allan & Bertram is ahead of the game in having printed the bulk of its stock at this point. In Birmingham Alltrade Printers, the UK’s largest printer of stock calendars, has only now started to print 2020’s editions. “We have been printing for two or three weeks,” says managing director Terry Mukadam, who says that between 5-10% of those needed for 202 have been printed.

“We are printers. We print what is on the PDF file we receive. The change of date for the bank holiday, as far as we are concerned, is the responsibility of the publishers. Some are letting it go, some are changing it.”

With an increasing volume of calendars being printed digitally and ordered online, there will be no impact on these customers, nor those that order small batches that can be printed digitally on demand.

Likewise the change of date will also have an impact on diary publishers. As many of these are shipped from China and other overseas producers, these may already have been finished. Diaries produced in the UK will have less of a problem as even if printed, they are unlikely to have been bound at this point.

Deanprint in Stockport is only now starting to get underway on the 2019/20 academic year diaries it producers for schools across the country. The change in date is unlikely to affect when terms end, so there is less of an impact.

Production director Kevin Lee says: “The change is OK for us. We are just starting to print for next season.”

The company should get the full benefit of the Kolbus DA270 case maker installed since the end of the last diary season and of the Rileart wire binder that has also found a place in the factory.

“We have always looked for something to do over sized hard overs over the block, something we have previously had to do manually. With the new machine we have worked out a way of doing this automatically. It has made a big difference to us already.”

By Gareth Ward

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