The press, a Roland 704LV HiPrint, supplied with ‘first fit’ for Manroland’s LEC low-energy curing technology, has been sold to women’s clothing manufacturer David Nieper, which has a 230-staff site in Alfreton, Derbyshire.

David Nieper, which sells to upmarket clients in the UK and Europe via catalogues and its website, will install the press in December as the foundation for its first print in-plant, which will solely be used to fulfil its own print requirements.

According to managing director Christopher Nieper, the company sends two to three different mailings a week to customers in the UK and mainland Europe and produces around 8m to 10m catalogues a year in total.

Nieper said that the decision to invest in it’s own in-house facility followed the collapse of one of the company’s two print partners, Hawthornes of Nottingham, last year. This was the fifth time that the company had had one of its print suppliers go bust in the past 20 years.

“We’ve always used local B1 printers and we’ve been incredibly loyal to the ones we use – it’s more of a partnership than a supplier/customer relationship – so when a supplier goes bust it’s a real hazard for us because it takes a long time to build up that kind of relationship,” he added.

“What do you do when your printer goes bust and the next one goes bust and the next one, do you take it offshore, which is what most people seem to have done, or do you try and keep it in the UK and create local jobs? We’ve taken on staff from Hawthornes, given them their jobs back, and they’re doing the work they used to do for the company they used to work for and using the machinery they used to do it on.”

The fashion house, which already had its own in-house mailing facility, bought the finishing equipment from Hawthornes’ administrator and subsequently decided to invest in its own print equipment, gradually going from a plan to buy a secondhand press to investing in the new Roland 700 series four-colour plus coater. The total investment, including the building and new Agfa CTP, was around £1.75m.

“Including paper, which we were buying direct from the mill, we were spending something approaching £1.5m on print per year and I think we’ll reduce the cost, even by working on only one shift, by around 20% a year,” said Nieper. “And we get a very, very flexible environment here – being able to print just in time every week – and we have absolute quality control of the colours and if we want to use the most expensive ink we can do, because for us quality is far, far more important than price.

“I hope this sets an example because for a company that uses a fair volume of print – easily enough to support an in-plant – it gives us terrific flexibility and those printers have got a much, much more secure job now because they haven’t got any sales to worry about. We don’t need anybody doing any estimating, or quotes or chasing debts because it’s all our own internal order.”

Colour management was said to be a major factor in David Nieper’s selection of Manroland above two other competitors; the company cited the quality of the printed sheet and “excellent colour control to reduce deviation in colour consistency during the run” as its two prime reasons.

The deal marks the first UK press sale in 19 months for Manroland Sheetfed, which has struggled to get off the mark in the UK despite having sold more than 100 presses around the world between February 2012 and January 2013.

Speaking to PrintWeek in January, acting managing director Martin Hawley said he was “optimistic” about securing a press sale in 2013, adding that the parts and services division had performed well throughout 2012.