Security printer giant invests in South Africa

July 2003 News

De La Rue, the world's largest commercial security printer, recently announced that it was in the process of investing R43 million in South Africa.

A new cheque printing plant at Midrand, north of Johannesburg, is on the point of completion, three months ahead of schedule. A total of 35 new jobs have been thereby created, with plans to expand to 75 people 18 months from now. Knowledge and skills transfer has been identified as a top priority.

The Midrand factory will initially handle cheque printing primarily for First National Bank of South Africa (FNB). This business has been transferred from De La Rue's plant in Nairobi, Kenya.

De La Rue (DLR), headquartered in the UK, is involved in the production of more than 150 national currencies, among them the Euro, and a wide range of security documents. Established 190 years ago, it operates in 31 countries and employs 6500 people. Close to 30 billion banknotes in circulation around the world owe their existence to DLR.

In a move aimed at reducing fraud in South Africa, FNB was given permission by the South African Government for DLR to print its cheques off-shore at its Kenyan plant two years ago. "Cheque theft, counterfeit and fraud have all been big problems in South Africa, not helped by the fact that some cheques were being printed by mainstream commercial printers in less-secure environments," says Ian Richter, DLR's managing director in South Africa.

"A great deal of confidence in the use of cheques has been lost. Hence the urgent need for a dedicated security printer to establish a cheque printing facility in South Africa."

Richter underlines DLR's unrivalled R&D facilities and many years of investment in the development of most advanced and innovative security features.

"These have resulted in a wealth of proprietary technologies and security solutions, giving DLR the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to make cheque printing in South Africa a credible and commercially viable enterprise." He stresses that DLR's entire business is founded on core values of security, integrity and trust. "With our security technologies, principles and procedures in place worldwide, we have been able to transfer this expertise seamlessly to our new operations in South Africa."

Matthew Ward, DLR's head of sales for EMEA, points out that security is about far more than sticking up barriers and barbed wire fences. "It has to be ingrained in a company's whole identity and culture, which then permeates its entire audit and control procedures." Security is present at all stages of DLR's cheque design, production and distribution process. The cheques incorporate applied security features through, for example, the use of holograms and special security inks and paper.

Printing and distribution are tightly controlled through security checks, rigorous audit trails and monitoring of management, employees and sub-contractors.

Ward insists that DLR's new facility will maintain high service levels and offer rapid turnarounds. "We strive to offer our customers innovative, bespoke solutions and unbeatable service, such as our ability to receive data and return finished cheque books within 24 hours."

Vicki Trehaeven, head of brand and communications services at FNB, says that the bank reluctantly took its cheque production out of South Africa. "We are a proudly South African company but we had to act in the best interests of our customers and ensure that only world-class cheques were going into the system.

"Our primary goal is to ensure we issue the safest cheques possible and keep one step ahead of the world counterfeiting syndicates. DLR's reputation ensured that we got the best of the best, which conveyed a message to the syndicates that we are not a 'soft touch'. It also warned the other banks here to get their acts together," says Trehaeven.

The new facility forms part of DLR's broader African plan to have three established hubs on the continent. It already has a foothold in West Africa. Having also set up its security printing plant in Nairobi 10 years ago, this left South Africa as the next logical region to penetrate.

For more information contact Ian Richter, De La Rue, 011 322 4300.

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