W&G Baird marks 160 years at cutting edge of technology

W&G Baird directors David Hinds, Patrick Moffett, Niall Halligan and Trevor Brennan
W&G Baird directors David Hinds, Patrick Moffett, Niall Halligan and Trevor Brennan

ONE of the north's oldest original trading companies W&G Baird in Antrim is marking 160 years in business by renewing its commitment to invest in cutting-edge technology and future-thinking business practices.

Much has changed since brothers William and George Baird sparked up their first printing press when they launched the company in Belfast’s Arthur Street in 1862.

The enterprising duo then further expanded their portfolio in 1872 when they founded the Belfast Evening Telegraph, known today as the Belfast Telegraph. Later they moved their entire print operations to the famous Royal Avenue site, with the press hall at the back of the iconic building and the newspaper offices with a street frontage.

In those days, they would have started with a traditional Victorian iron letterpress like the one still seen presently in the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum.

Today, W&G Baird ( uses multi-million-pound automated print and finishing machinery and are the first print company in the UK to incorporate robotics into its finishing department, making the company one of the most technologically advanced printing companies in the UK and Ireland.

Managing director Patrick Moffett said: “We are immensely hugely proud of our rich history, as a leading employer and innovator in this industry, with what we see as a bright future. We have evolved from a single letterpress in 1862 to be one of the country's largest sheet-fed print rooms, using the most sophisticated printing technology, including Robotics and specialist finishing equipment.”

Given its long and impressive record in business, W&G Baird has witnessed major milestones in history, including having its premises damaged in both the Blitz in 1941 and again in the 1970s when it was bombed during the Northern Ireland troubles.

But the company was honoured at being selected to print the historic Good Friday Agreement document in 1998.

Patrick said: “We have a huge print service for a vast range of products from leaflets and business cards to bespoke books, magazines, signage and prospectuses.

“We operate a range of cutting-edge machines covering both litho and digital print which means we print a lot of books, magazines, brochures, catalogues and leaflets on a huge scale at the same time we can offer shorter print run jobs. We also do large-scale display & point of sale commercial work allowing businesses to showcase their brand in a very impressive and professional manner.”

“We are proud to have made a commitment to working towards being carbon neutral. Always at the forefront of technology, we are proving that large and small changes can make a difference in environmental impact, and we hope our client base will follow our example. We want to take people with us on our Carbon Neutral Journey to amplify awareness about sustainability and inspire positive action across the whole industry.”

Over the last decade, the long-established printing company has invested more than £10 million in advanced technology.

With 90 employees across two sites in Ireland and the UK, W&G Baird now operates one of the country's largest 24/7 sheet-fed print rooms using the most advanced equipment in the sector.

During its many decades in business, W&G Baird has flourished thanks to its forward-thinking practices and willingness to invest in both its staff and technology. The company is both adaptable and resilient and was even able to rise to the recent extreme challenges created by Covid in the commercial sector.

“Despite a challenging two years during the pandemic, we are proud that we didn’t close production for a single day. We also played a key role in printing over 25 million leaflets for Covid testing kits as well as, educational support packs for schools and many other materials which were used across the UK and Ireland,” Patrick said.

He added: “I think if the Baird Brothers could see the company today, we hope they would be proud of the many milestones and successes this company has enjoyed for 160 years and the employment it has offered to the Antrim area and beyond.”