Friday 4 December 2015

Gateshead printer De La Rue loses postage stamp deal

The problem with headlines in the provincial press is that they focus so very much on the local area, hence the headline above from the Northern Echo

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.


  1. That may be DLR’s plan, but will their customers accept the move?

    1. Surprising what you can find on the internet, if my maths are correct there should be a new set of contracts soon.

    2. The above link is to a document on a British government website inviting companies to tender for providing Royal Mail with everything from gravure- and litho-printed stamps to FDCs and filler cards, and phosphor envelopes (which may just mean phosphor bands on postal stationery). The closing date was 8 September 2011, but with an initial 36 month period, extendable twice for 12 month periods.

      If the contracts were extended for 5 years that would require renewal from some time in 2016. However, now that Royal Mail is a private company, the need to publicise the contacts in accordance with the EU requirements for public sector contracts probably no longer exists. So while we may see a new set of contracts next year, they may not be advertised in the same way.

  2. I this why you cannot get English NVIs at present?

    1. No. Regional/Country definitives are printed by Cartor, although Tallents House still has De La Rue Northern Ireland 1st & 2nd as these are not by Cartor.

  3. There would always be the option of Royal Mail stamp production going to the Debden plant, which is not included in these plans.


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