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Polestar Announces Largest Investment Ever for Gravure Facility

Monday, December 15, 2003

Press release from the issuing company

December 15, 2003 -- At its annual management conference and employee awards yesterday, the Polestar Group announced its largest-ever single investment. £100 million has been allocated for the development of a new greenfield gravure facility, the wholesale re-equipping of the Group’s binderies and the continued development of its web-based customer-driven e-commerce technology. “Together with the capital expenditure made in recent years, this investment will position Polestar as one of the best-equipped large printing groups in Europe,” says Chief Executive Barry Hibbert. “This programme of growth for the Group will strengthen our market leader status in both gravure and web-offset technologies “We have consulted a number of customers about their future needs and these discussions have influenced our decisions. The Group’s web-offset businesses are already well invested with new presses installed over the last two years and an £8 million CTP programme in place. The greenfield gravure facility will offer the most up to date technology to our customers and complement the capacity currently available in our three other gravure sites.” The exact location of the greenfield facility will be finalized early in the new year, with construction starting immediately thereafter and presses due for installation within 12 months. At 700,000 square feet, it will be one of the largest in Europe, with unparalleled distribution services throughout Europe, via excellent road links and the possibility of dedicated railheads. Highly automated, it will initially house two new 4.0-plus metre-wide presses, with an option on a third machine, and a state-of-the-art bindery. Across the Group, 16 new binding lines will be installed, replacing equipment that is over a few years old. The new equipment will comprise Muller Martini, Ferag and perfect binding technology. Installation will begin in the second quarter of 2004, and is scheduled for completion within one year. Completing the investment is the enhancement of Polestar’s existing e-commerce technology to enable the Group to deliver to customers ‘real time’ information and services via the Internet, eliminating duplication of effort, reducing schedules and costs. With greater transparency of its dealings with customers, Polestar is establishing the most comprehensive CRM programme in the industry. Through a single point of entry via a customised Internet portal, customers will be able to access a range of services including job tracking, paper management, print quality and remote proofing. Future developments will include delivery and insert tracking. Already being Beta tested by a leading publishing customer, the system will be rolled out at Polestar Chantry, Petty, Colchester and Purnell in the New Year. This major investment programme comes on the back of a strong financial year, during which the Group experienced growth in sales and profit and a reduction in its cost base. The Group’s full year results will be published in January. Barry Hibbert continues: “For the second year running, we have gone against the grain of the industry and grown our profitability, and this has given our shareholders the confidence to support our major investment plans for the business. “There are signs of growing confidence in the marketplace and when the market turnaround comes, which it will, we will be well positioned to meet the requirements of our customers.”




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