De Backer was accompanied by Bpost CEO Koen Van Gerven. Bpost still prints 300 million stamps at the plant every year.
The postal stamp has actually existed in Belgium since 1849. The first stamps, including the famous “shoulder-pieces of His majesty Léopold the 1st,” were printed at the North Brussels station.
There was a rapid growth in written correspondence around 1865, so the Royal Postal Service increased the number of stamps in circulation to meet the increased demand.
As well as the introduction of heliogravure, which is the quickest and cheapest way of printing, the printing plant was moved to Malines.
Alongside standard printing, the plant also tests innovative high-tech procedures: stamps with a taste and smell, 3D effects, virtual reality and customised stamps. Bpost revealed they had seen a 30% increase in those types of orders.
The plant also produces stamps for other countries (Luxemburg, Portugal, Gibraltar and Guernsey).
The plant has published a special edition series to celebrate its 150th anniversary: they are recreations of the very first stamps printed and finished at the Malines plant.
The plant currently has 50 employees and 35 production and finishing machines.