So my first thought was that we had new Machin definitive stamps coming next year, printed by Cartor or Walsall, under the ISP umbrella, maybe Enschede, or a newcomer, like the Bundesdruckerei in Germany, FNMT in Spain (who printed the Long to Reign Over Us miniature sheet, we're told), or any one of the other state printing works in Europe.
However, looking beyond the headlines we find that De La Rue are reorganising their production. According to the company's press release:
By leveraging its strong market position as the largest commercial supplier of passports, the Group is seeking to accelerate its growth in the Identity and Security Products markets by improving capabilities and investing in new technologies. A significant portion of the overall £30m of capital investment will be invested in equipment and skills to create a centre for excellence for Identity and Security Print at De La Rue’s current site in Malta. This will enhance further the Group’s Identity and Security Print capability and give the Group a competitive edge to capture the high growth opportunities in these markets. The current Security Print capability in Gateshead, U.K. will be relocated to Malta.In other words, there will be no more bank-note printing in Malta: that will switch to Gateshead and the identity, security and postage stamp operation will switch to Malta.
So what are the implications for Royal Mail, and hence for us as collectors and dealers? When DLR moved stamp production from the south of England to Gateshead in 2013, they were unable to produce the new tariff stamps (78p, 88p, £1.88) to meet Royal Mail's timescale, and interim printings were produced by Walsall - and they had different security codes.
So we shall have to be vigilant this spring when rates will increase again: which company will print the stamps - and where?
UPDATE 7 December
See the comments: the current stamp-printing contracts (and those for other philatelic material) may be up for renewal in the latter part of 2016.