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Philatelist Sarko saves stamp jobs

Keen stamp collector President Sarkozy has helped save 450 jobs at the national postage stamp printworks

KEEN stamp collector President Sarkozy has helped save 450 jobs at the national postage stamp printworks in the north of the Dordogne.

The Phil@poste Imprimerie des Timbres plant at Boulazac, outside Périgueux, has agreed a €16 million four-year investment plan that sees the arrival of new printing and plate-making equipment to boost capacity.

Mr Sarkozy has been a stamp collector since he was a boy and a key part of the order is for a laser engraving machine that produces the stamps Mr Sarkozy prefers.

For years, the distinctive taille-douce stamps with their raised surface have been seen as very attractive but very expensive; other countries have switched to cheaper photographic printing.

However, in 2007 Mr Sarkozy championed the stamps when he asked La Poste to produce 30 per cent of stamps in tailledouce and organised a competition to design a new definitive stamp.

Now, after several years of fears for jobs, the Phil@poste plant will buy a laser engraving machine, a six-colour offset press with ultraviolet drying, four-colour gravure press and three-colour rotary press.

Older machines print 2,000 to 3,000 sheets of stamps an hour; the new ones will exceed 10,000. Each year the plant produces 2.5 billion stamps.

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