Stephens & George Goes Finishing 4.0
The Stephens & George Print Group in Dowlais in Wales is commissioning no fewer than four new Muller Martini print finishing systems – two Bolero perfect binders and two Primera saddle stitchers, making it the first graphic arts business in Great Britain to invest in the latest-generation Primera. At GBP 4.2 million (EUR 5.25 million), it is the largest investment in stitching and binding in the United Kingdom in the past ten years.
Stephens & George Ltd, which employs 216 people at its 11,000-sqm plant in Merthyr Tydfil, predominantly produces lifestyle and other magazines, programmes and catalogues. Established in 1912, Stephens & George has recorded particularly impressive growth in perfect binding over the past three years.
Marcus Partridge: “Muller Martini’s innovative technology provides us with high investment protection.” Andrew Jones: “Muller Martini made us the offer with the best outlook for the next ten years.”
Stephens & George Ltd., which uses five Heidelberg 106 XL printing presses, has relied on Muller Martini print finishing systems for almost 30 years – its first Muller Martini saddle stitcher, a 321, was commissioned in 1987.Currently it uses three saddle stitchers – a Prima (installed in 1997), and two PrimaPlus machines (2003/2004) – and three perfect binders – a Corona C15 (2004), a Corona C13 (2004), and a Bolero (2005). While the second PrimaPlus and the Corona C15 will remain in operation, the four other systems are now set to be replaced by state-of-the-art Muller Martini solutions.
In addition to two extensive Bolero perfect binding lines, Stephens & George Ltd. is investing in two Primera machines, making it the first Company in Great Britain to invest in the latest-generation Primera that Muller Martini is set to unveil at this year’s Drupa. The two saddle stitchers have six and four feeders respectively, and are each equipped with a cover feeder, Asir 3 automatic barcode recognition and a Perfetto compensating stacker.
“Our purchase decision was mainly driven by the fact that, thanks to the automatic settings, we can sell the very first copy and that we can change the systems over quickly, which is important for our short-run jobs,” says Group Bindery Manager Marcus Partridge. “I consider the Primera and the Bolero to be best-in-class solutions that really stand out from the competition. The innovative technology, for which Muller Martini’s key Drupa topic of Finishing 4.0 is a good fit in my opinion. We’re proud to be the first company in Great Britain to rely on these solutions. They keep all our options open in terms of meeting new market requirements in the future, which gives us great confidence.”
Chairman and Group Managing Director Andrew Jones confirms that not only positive experiences in the past (“this investment is the result of a long standing relationship with Muller Martini”), but also future prospects played an important part in the investment decision. “Although Muller Martini didn’t make us the cheapest offer, it was the offer with the best outlook for the next ten years, so I’m convinced that our future will be even brighter.”
Speaking of the future, the two new Primeras and one of the two Boleros – the potential of which Andrew Jones and Marcus Partridge saw for themselves during their evaluation trip at the Muller Martini plant in Switzerland – will be commissioned this summer. The second Bolero will be installed in summer 2017.