Hundreds of jobs affected as printing presses set to close at Leeds firm after 150 years

Robert Maxwell opens a new printing plant for Petty & Sons, in Whitehall Road, Leeds, in November 1983.
Robert Maxwell opens a new printing plant for Petty & Sons, in Whitehall Road, Leeds, in November 1983.
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Around 250 Leeds jobs will be affected by the phased closure of a printing factory that was first established nearly 150 years ago.

The Polestar Petty factory, in Whitehall Road, Leeds, will shut its printing presses for good on December 20, having served the city since Petty & Sons first opened in Whitehall Road in 1865.

Polestar Petty printers, in Whitehall Road, Leeds.

Polestar Petty printers, in Whitehall Road, Leeds.

The YEP understands a number of staff will remain on site where prints will be bound until the entire site closes down next summer.

The move comes as part of a £50million restructure of Polestar nationally, which will see mass redundancies and the transfer of some jobs to Polestar sites in Sheffield and Wakefield.

Petty & Sons family printing company grew to become the first firm in the UK to install colour web offset presses in 1963. The business was sold before becoming part of tycoon Robert Maxwell’s British Printing & Communications Corporation empire in 1981 and it has since been owned by several firms.

Former print room worker Terry Farrell, who took redundancy from Polestar Petty in 2011 after 27 years, said: “I think it’s going to be a loss to Leeds as we know it. Within the print industry it’s done well but the people that work there, a lot of them are in their early fifties and it’s the only job they’ve ever had. It will be a sad day when we pull the press up.”

Supplements and magazines are printed by Polestar nationally for titles including Private Eye, The Guardian and The Radio Times. According to its website, the Leeds plant has the capacity to print 57million 32 printed page sections and 12million stitched magazines per week.

Chris Daly, regional officer at Unite the union, explained ‘bindery’ staff could remain on site until August. He added that the imminent closure of the presses was “sad” and that the move was “no reflection on the service of the workers”.

Nobody from the Polestar Group was available for comment when contacted by the YEP.

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