Author Archive

  • Japanese swoop on Spicers in $146.7m deal

    Being bought: KPP seeks $146.7m deal for Spicers

    Paper, packaging and wide format supplier Spicers is being bought by Japanese paper giant KPP, in a $146.7m deal set to go through in July, subject to shareholder approval.

    Spicers – which had sales of $384m in the last financial year and an Australian EBIT of $4.2m – has signed a binding Scheme Implementation Deed with Kokusai Pulp & Paper (KPP), under which KPP would acquire all the shares in Spicers through a Scheme of Arrangement.

    Spicers shareholders will receive 7c per share, a 27 per cent premium over shares which were trading at 5.3c as the proposed deal was announced

    Under the terms of the Scheme the 7 cents offer comprises 4.3c from KPP ($90m) for the enterprise value of the business, and 2.7c from realisable Spicers asset sales and surplus net cash of Spicers ($56.7m), if the deal goes through. 

    Spicers directors, who own 26.6 per cent of the company, have unanimously voted in favour of the deal. To get over the line the vote must be more than 75 per cent of the shareholders who vote, with more than 50 per cent of eligible shareholders participating.

    Speaking to Print21 this morning Spicers CEO David Martin said the main motivation for Spicers was to get investment into the company, and for current shareholders to realise a return. He said, “For print, packaging and wide format businesses in Australia and New Zealand the deal means increased guarantee of supply, which is great news, and the likelihood of increased stock range.

    “KPP wants to grow its business. Spicers is its first acquisition since its IPO last year, and will be the first of many. Having the backing of such a large well resourced business can only be good news for Spicers and for the Australia and New Zealand print markets.”

    KPP is a trading company, its sits between mills and merchants and uses its immense buying power to secure both supply and pricing. It supplies more than 100 merchants in Japan. It is not in the wide format business, but, says Martin, is keen to learn from the Spicers experience and develop the model.

    Martin says the merchant has been working with KPP for ‘many years’  commenting, ”I see many advantages for the Spicers business in taking this step to become part of a successful, global, business with a willingness to invest for growth in our key revenue streams of Print & Packaging, Sign & Display and Architecture & Interior Design.

    “KPP has been a key business partner of Spicers, and I believe having access to its global resources will provide opportunities for Spicers in many new markets and product categories.

    ”Our business is in an excellent position, and our strategic focus over the past two years has delivered improved value for our current shareholders.

    Many advantages: David Martin, CEO, Spicers.

    Spicers is one of the big two paper merchants in Australia and New Zealand, with arch rival Ball & Doggett also now having Japanese owners, in its case Japan Pulp & Paper, which also bought the Asian arm of Spicers, for SGD $15m three months ago. With Australian Paper also owned by a Japanese company, Nippon Paper, the Spicers deal means the vast majority of Australian commercial paper and packaging media supply will now be from Japanese owned businesses.

    In the last financial year Spicers achieved sales revenue of $384m with Print & Packaging up by half a per cent to $304.7m, while Sign & Display rose by 2.6 per cent to $79.3m. Australian sales were up to $204.4m from $201.8m, although this is still behind the 2016 sales of $211m.

    The Australian EBIT was up by 80 per cent at $4.2m, which the company says was due to improved trading in key product categories.

    KPP has revenues of JPY377.7bn ($4.8bn) generated by 950 staff operating across 26 sites. It is Japan’s biggest selling paper comany, and an envioronmental pioneer It listed on the Nikkei in June. Its growth strategy, set last year, is business expansion through M&A in the Asia Pacific.

    Spicers is now three years on from its exit from its disastrous European adventure, which saw it rack up losses of $300m under its old PaperlinX brand. The company closed or sold all its business there, as well as those in Canada, and has focused on Australia, New Zealand and Asia prior to its sale to JPP.

    Spicers shares (as Paperlinx) were trading at more than $4 for the first five years after 2000, then at $3 for the three years prior to the GFC, they plummeted to around 50c a decade ago, and then collapsed to the 7c-5c range five years ago, where they have flatlined ever since.

    The last year’s figures though showed the company had arrested falling sales, increased profits, albeit to a still modest amount, and with $79m worth of sales in wide format hardware and consumables had become one of the major players in that field.

  • Holmesglen reborn – Print21 Magazine

    New Horizon at Holmesglen: students learning to program and cut on Horizon

    Victoria’s leading print training centre Holmesglen is establishing a strong and stable position in the tumultuous world of print education. Programme director Paul Ross talks to editor Wayne Robinson in the latest issue of Print21 magazine.

    The past few years have been tumultuous for print education and training, with some big wins including Future Print, and some big losses, notably in offsite training, which traditionally formed a key part of the print apprenticeship.

    Today there are two key centres for print training: the Ultimo TAFE in Sydney, and Holmesglen Institute in Melbourne. Read the full report in Print21 magazine.

  • Print21 – issue 1073 WEEKEND SPECIAL


    Spicers has certainly been though the mill over the past decade, but since coming on board David Martin has steadied the ship, and now a sale to Japanese giant KPP should provide further stability, and more guarantee of supply to local printers.


    Welcome to the latest Australian and New Zealand industry newsletter, this issue with some great weekend reading, brought to you by Print21, the people who know print.


    Wayne Robinson
    – Editor


  • A tale of two online auctions

    Up for auction: Dotprint’s Heidelberg CD 102, plus a heap of finishing gear

    Changing times at two printing outfits, Dotprint in Springvale and Cardboard Containers in Rosebery  sees a heap of printing and convertuing equipment up for auction.

    The plant and equipment for a complete B1 printing operation is being auctioned next week, as the kit as Springvale, Vic, operation Dotprint goes under the hammer.

    At the same time surplus plant from Cardboard Containers in Rosebery NSW is also going up for auction, as the company merges with another Sydney print nd packaging outfit.

    The online auctions will last from January 23 to February 5, and is online at A viewing day has been slated for 30 January at 31 Rosalie Street, Springvale, Vic, and at 45/49 Dunning Street, Rosebery, NSW, on the same day.

    Centrepiece of the Dotprint auction is a Heidelberg CD 102-5 (1998), a five-colour automated 102 Carton Diameter (CD) offset press, with 199 million impressions. Finishing equipment includes two Polar guillotines, three Heidelberg cylinders,, two Muller-Martini saddles stitchers, and three MBO folders.

    The Cardboard Containers auction sees a Bobst SP 900 E available for bids. It was manufactured in 1972, reconditioned and upgraded 2005. Also available is a Keck boxmaker, two Heidelberg cylinders and a 1973 Solna four-colour offset press.

  • Intertype Iridesse gets world 1st Color-Logic

    Demand: Intertype CEO Ian Bosler checks a Color-Logic test sheet produced on his Fuji Xerox Iridesse

    Melbourne marketing services provider Intertype has installed a new Fuji Xerox Iridesse, the first in the world with the Color-Logic special effects software.

    The new Iridesse joins a company that was founded in 2004 and has enjoyed successive organic growth every year since then. It offers a suite of services including print, mobile marketing, video marketing, publishing, marketing and sales automation systems, to clients around Australia, and increasingly overseas. . Ian Bosler, Intertype CEO, said, “We do things differently, we are innovators, print disruptors.”

    The new six-colour Iridesse provides a range of effects in addition to CMYK in one pass. Bosler said: “Australian customers are beginning to measure advertising effectiveness by tracking the return on investment of their marketing campaigns.

    “They particularly like the metallic special effects we are able to produce using the Color-Logic process on our new Fuji Xerox Iridesse. Our use of Color-Logic has yielded many new projects from existing clients, and is garnering new clients as well.

    “With the software we underprint the metallics, and as it works with Adobe InDesign we can Photoshop multiple effects. We want to make our customers’ marketing collaterol pop. The mettalic effect really works, for instance with image sof cars, or make-up.”

    The new Iridesse replaces a Fuji Xerox 1000i, which also had the Color Logic software. Bosler said, “The metallic brilliance on the Iridesse is outstanding, and there is more reflectance. The ability of Iridesse to print digital white is also appealing to us. Functions such as the banner sheet 1.2m long printing are also really working for us. We have also specified it with inline booklet making with square backed saddle stitching.”

    Color-Logic director of sales and marketing Mark Geeves said: “Color-Logic is fast becoming the preferred process of Iridesse press users around the world. Intertype previously used Color-Logic on a Fuji  Xerox Color 1000i, press, so the transition to their new Fuji Xerox Iridesse was effortless. The company is finding many customers for their metallic print offerings.”

    Color-Logic says it provides brand owners, product managers, corporations, and their advertising agencies the ability to differentiate themselves and their clients with a simple print production process that yields dramatic results.

  • Rob Mollee new Kodak ANZ sales director

    Advanced solutions: Rob Mollee sales director Kodak Australasia

    Well known industry identity Rob Mollee is the new Kodak Australasia sales director, responsible for sales and the sales team for the Australia and New Zealand Graphics Market of the Kodak Printing Systems Division.

    He has been with Kodak for the past 28 years,working across all areas of the graphic arts business in that time.

    Mollee says, “Kodak is bringing technologically advanced solutions to the market, in plates, in workflow, in digital printing. I am delighted to be able to bring my experience with Kodak and in the graphics arts market to the role, and look forward to working with print businesses to achieve the best possible outcomes.

    “Kodak has the most advanced processless pate on the market, the Sonora, which eliminates processing from the printroom. We have just converted Fairfax to Sonora, and most other major clients are using it.”

    The Kodak client list includes the biggest names in the industry; as well as Fairfax both PMP and IVE use Kodak plates, the latter working its way through 280,000sqm at its new Franklin Web NSW site alone, in what is virtually a lights out platemaking room.

    In his new role Mollee is responsible for plates, Nexpress digital presses, and Prinergy digital workflow. Inkjet solutions is a separate division within the company.

  • Rotometrics makes Melbourne investment

    Investment: Rotometrics Australia gets upgrade for its Melbourne facility

    Die making trade house Rotometrics is investing in upgrading its Melbourne centre, in a move it says will reduce turnaround time by eight per cent.

    Rotometrics already offers next day delivery to anywhere in Australia and New Zealand, with a typical order taking 17 hours from receipt of order to shipping, the company says the new equipment will knock another hour off that.

    Announcing the investment was Molly Moroni, the company’s new vice president and general manager of its Asia Pacific region, which includes Australia and New Zealand, who is in the country for a familiarisation tour with Rotometrics ANZ general manager Cain Harper.

    Even quicker turnaround: Molly Moroni, VP & GM Asia Pacifc

    Moroni says, “Australia and New Zealand is a key market for Rotometrics, and Melbourne is the only plant in the southern hemisphere which makes its own dies. The new investment will mean even quicker turnaround for our customers, which they require. Rotometrics is acutely aware of our customers needs to have their assets operational at all times, this investment will boost our aim of ensuring they are never waiting for dies.”

    Rotometrics has its own R+D department in the US, and part of the new investment in Melbourne has come form the company developing technologies to work with thinner films being used by converters, as they seek to drive down costs and improve their environmental credentials.

    Moroni was previously director of Sales for the Americas from August 2012, and vice president of Sales of US and Canada for Rotometrics, prior to taking up the new regional role. She says, “Australia is similar to the US, Canada and the UK in its market, whereas much of the rest of Asia is still developing, some only just moving from flatbed to rotary. The dies manufactured in Melbourne will supply the whole region. Our ANZ customers will get 100 per cent of their dies manufactured in Melbourne.”

    One stop shop: Cain Harper, GM, Rotometrics

    Some 55 staff are employed at the Melbourne site, which manufactures a full range of flexible and solid dies, and all other types of dies. Harper says, “We are a one stop shop.” According to Moroni and Roberts the impact of digital printing has been a positive for Rotometrics, as it has led to a strong trend to multiple shorter runs rather than one long run.

    The Melbourne site manufactures both wide web and narrow web dies. Harper says, “Rotometrics is the blue ribbon supplier, with north of 85 per cent of the market. A die is around 3 per cent of the total cost of a job, people ask themselves why they wouldn’t buy for us, rather than taking the risk with an imported die.”

  • Next census to be three quarters online

    Online: Census 2021 set to be three quarters online, despite shambles last time out

    The government expects three quarters of the population to complete the next census online, pushing print further away. This is despite the shambles in 2016 when it went online for the first time only to infamously crash out on the day.

    The company at the centre of the online census fail two years ago, IBM, has declined to tender for the next one, slated for 2021.

    During census day last time only two million of the estimated 10 million online forms were able to be completed, turning what was promoted as triumph of new technology into a national debacle.

    The 2016 census was the first time the census was available online, cutting millions of printed forms out. In 2011 some 14.5 million forms were printed, by IPMG, but in 2016 this number was down by two thirds, to five million, printed by Print Media Group.

    The 2021 census is expected to have a similar number of forms printed to 2016, although demand may be higher as the public becomes increasingly aware of data hacking. The online version asks for names and addresses.

    Eventually some 59 per cent of the population filled in the 2016 version online a figure the Australian Bureau of Statistics expects to rise to 75 per cent in 2021.

  • Roll-to-roll Karibu coming from swissQprint

    Swiss wide format developer swissQprint is set to launch Karibu, its first reel-to-reel wide format print system, with Fespa in May slated for the launch.

    The swissQprint technology is supplied in Australia by Pozitive, its managing director Philip Trumble tells Print21 that all will be revealed at the show. He says, “We don’t have many details but what we do know is that it will have the renowned swissQprint quality and reliability.”

    Karibu: roll-to-roll swissQprint coming to Fespa

    The company claims that Karibu ‘has features and capabilities like no other large format printer and comes packed with all the experience we have gained over decades of developing and manufacturing high-quality flatbed printers’.

    Trumble says, “We will be taking orders at the show, when we will know what the production schedule will be.”

    The swissQprint flatbeds are positioned at the higher end of the market, and have found a niche in Australia with companies such as CMP, EasySigns and Mediapoint installing the technology.

    The Swiss based company was established in 2008 by four designers who were working for Zund when it decided to pull out of printers and focus on developing cutters. The quartet decided to strike out on their own, and formed swissQprint. Trumble has been the local sales and service supplier since 2012.

  • PrintNZ launches key 2019 dates

    The Kiwi print industry has a series of upcoming events to look forward to, as PrintNZ launches a packed programme for the first half of the year.

    An industry with a strong future: Ruth Cobb, PrintNZ

    Ruth Cobb, CEO at PrintNZ says, “The latter half of last year was by a large a positive for our members, with most ticking along nicely. PrintNZ doesn’t stand still though, and we want to provide the best ongoing support to the industry possible. PrintNZ is committed to continuing and expanding the work we do in and on behalf of the industry.”

    Three key events are the print training graduations, on Wednesday March 27 in Christchurch, Thursday April 4 in Auckland and Friday May 3 at the Pride In Print Awards, Wellington.

    Cobb says, “The graduations provide an opportunity for every trainee that has completed a qualification in 2018 to be recognised in front of their colleagues and family. If you have had someone complete a training programme then make sure you give them the chance to come along and celebrate.”

    The graduations  are also the first step in the Apprentice of the Year process with the Top Ten finalists being announced at these events, alongside the Trainer of the Year, Training Company of the Year and Diploma of Print Management finalists. 

    “As well as a night of glitz and glamour that celebrate the excellent work that is produced by the industry the Pride in Print Awards ahey also provide the platform for announcing the overall winners of the Apprentice of the Year, Training Company and Trainer of the Year awards” said Cobb.

    On a different note at the end of 2018 changes to the Employment Relations Act were passed through Parliament.  Some of these took effect immediately and some take effect from May 6 this year 

    Commencing February PrintNZ will be running seminars right around the country to ensure printers have the correct information. Watch out for full details of dates/locations shortly. 

    Changes to be covered include:
    ・ Restrictions on 90-day trial periods
    ・ Restoration of statutory meal breaks
    ・ Reinstatement as a primary remedy
    ・ Union rights and changes to collective bargaining
    ・ Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act
    ・ Triangular Relationships Bill
    ・ Minimum Wage Act

    And in good news for printers that have staff due to renew their First Aid Certificates in 2019 members of PrintNZ you can get a discount off the courses at St John by entering the discount code in the Promo box on the payment page.  Email to get the discount code. Every business should have a trained first aider on their premises to ensure they are complying with the requirements of the Health and Safety Act.

    Finally PrintEx 2019, Visual Impact Sydney 2019 and Label & Packaging Expo 2019 will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park, from Tuesday August 13 – Friday August 16. 

    Cobb says, “Mark those dates in your diaries and start planning your trip. PrintNZ is hoping to run another Kiwi night at PrintEx.”

  • Print21 – Issue 1072 MIDWEEK SPECIAL

    The Bureau of Stats is ploughing on with its online census strategy, despite the unbridled debacle that occurred last time out. Be interesting to see how it goes this time, and what the take up will be, given the previous experience, and the growing concerns with data privacy.


    Welcome to the latest issue of the number one newsletter for the Australian and New Zealand print industries, brought to you by Print21, the people who know print.


    Wayne Robinson
    – Editor


  • Print 21 issue 1071 – WEEKEND SPECIAL


    Signage and industrial relations in the news today, the falling roadsign on the Tullamarine freeway a wake up call to all in the business to check and double check your installations.


    Good news for PIAA members too with the appointment of IR expert Sam Puri to the team – welcome to print. And welcome to all to the number one industry newsletter for print businesses in Australia and New Zealand, brought to you by Print21, the people who know print.


    Wayne Robinson
    – Editor


  • PIAA ups industrial advocacy with Puri

    Industrial advocate: Sam Puri joins PIAA in service expansion for members

    PIAA is expanding the services available to members, with the appointment of expert industrial advocate Sam Puri to its staff.

    Puri will be overseeing the operation of PIAA Workplace Relations bureau, the online HR services portfolio, Fair Work advocacy, and VET advocacy.

    He comes with a strong industrial relations background, and has led industrial relations services at both an employer focused advisory firm, and in HR generalist roles in commercial environments, where he has delivered telephone and client facing advisory services.

    Puri is familiar with the industrial and creative HR generalist (including greenfields related) operations within small/medium/large, complex, multi-site environments. He has also led initiatives in programmes for Performance Management (Forced Rankings) and Change Management (Performance Improvement), both in Australia and internationally. He has been deployed in the US on a Management Development Programme, seeing current best practices in productivity management in that market.

    “PIAA is delighted to be able to provide members with the exemplary calibre of expertise that Sam Puri offers”, said Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA. “Members are encouraged to take advantage of the services available to them inclusive of their membership”.

    “Regional members of PIAA will benefit from this deepening of Workplace Relations skills as we continue to enhance the services available to members, and I look forward to working with Sam in the coming months,” said Anthony Pittaway, a director of the PIAA, and managing director of Perth based Discus on Demand.

    Members of PIAA are protected by industrial support, ranging from employment advice, through award services, mediation and representation in the Fair Work Commission. These services are included within membership.

    “I have found the PIAA industrial services invaluable to the operations of my print and packaging business”, attests Walter Kuhn, President of PIAA. “These services give me peace of mind when I am hiring, and confidence in those times when certainty is needed in the occasional unfortunate moments when exit services are required.”

    Puri holds postgraduate legal qualifications in industrial relations, postgraduate business qualifications in HR, and strong undergraduate business qualifications. Macaulay says, “He will be a great asset to the print industry and members of PIAA.”

    Puri has led industrial relations services in multiple fields inlcuding Case Management; Common Law Contracts; Employment Conditions (NES); Employment Law & Tribunal Cases (FWC/FC/FCC); Employment Legislation; Industrial Frameworks; Industrial Instruments (Enterprise Agreements/Agreement-based transitional instruments/Modern Awards/Award-based transitional instruments) Industrial Relations Legislation and Policies (Interpretation, Development & Implementation).


  • JC Decaux set for $300m Sydney OOH contract

    $300m win: JC Decaux tipped to take City of Sydney outdoor contract

    Industry insiders are confident that incumbent JC Decaux will see off its only real rival oOh! Media and win the race for the $300m City of Sydney outdoor media contract.

    Outdoor printer GSP, which was owned by APN Outdoor, now part of JC Decaux, is likely to be the winner if the deal goes ahead.

    The contract is one of the most sought after in the country, and includes street furniture, as well as the city’s buses and trains.z

    The street furniture alone amounts to 2,500 pieces, inlcuding kiosks, bus shelters, seats and benches, bins and panels.

    Part of the brief for the tender included a digital element, which inlucded free WiFi in the whole area, and which has seen Decaux partner with Telstra for its bid.

    JC Decaux has handled the contract for the past 20 years, ever since it first arrived in Australia.

  • VicRoads to audit all road signs following freeway crushing

    Falling sign: all VicRoad signage to be audited

    All 60 major road signs in the Melbourne metro area will be audited following Tuesday’s sign collapse, which saw a huge metal roadsign fall and crush a passing car.

    The overhead sign on the Tullamarine Freeway toppled off the gantry during peak hour and onto passing traffic, landing on top of the unfortunate car, although thankfully the occupant survived.

    The sign and its gantry – which also fell – was only installed 12 months ago as part of a widening project on the road, one of Melbourne’s busiest. It was one of many installed at the time.

    The sign was four by five metres in size, and secured by a combination of bolts and welding. While an investigation is underway all other six similar signs installed at the same time have been inspected and pronounced safe.

    Road signage on major Melbourne roads is inspected visually every day, and checked every six months.

    However the CEO of Weld Australia Geoff Crittendon pointed the finger at cheap imported steel and lax welding standards, saying lives were at risk.

  • Print21 issue 1071 MIDWEEK SPECIAL


    We’re back, and wishing Happy New Year to all in the ANZ print industries from the team here at Print21. Let’s hope it is although with another Federal election due soon, Donald Trump still at the helm of the western world, and a crumbling Aussie batting line-up the portents could be better.


    Welcome to the first Print21 newsletter of the year, produced for Australian and New Zealand print businesses by the people who know print.


    Wayne Robinson
    – Editor



  • ATO now taking Picton administrators to court

    The Australian Tax Office is lodging further legal action against the directors of debt-ridden Picton Press, taking them back to court, and this time has named the company’s administrators in its lawsuit, as it seeks to overturn the Dec 18 court ruling,  which dismissed its winding up order.

    In a separate development long-time well respected operations manager Murray Scott has joined the exodus out of the company, with two pre-press operators also just leaving.

    The ATO – which is owed $1.3m by Picton – lodged an application to the Federal Court on Dec 21, three days after the ruling that dismissed its original winding up order.

    For the first time the ATO named administrators Jeremy Nipps and Clifford Rocke from Cor Cordis in the lawsuit, as well as Picton directors Garry Kennedy and Dennis Hague, and Picton Press itself, as the defendants. No date has yet been set for the court hearing.

    Administrator Jeremy Nipps steered the business into a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA), thanks to what creditors at the meeting said was a highly controversial vote he managed. Almost all unsecured creditors – including the ATO – voted against, but all employees voted for, with Nipps then declaring the vote deadlocked, before casting his vote in favour to get the DOCA over the line.

    The DOCA will enable the company to shed between 98 and 99 per cent of its $3.6m unsecured debt, with unsecured creditors – including the ATO – getting between just 1c and 2c in the dollar. In the ATO’s case this translates into somewhere between just $13,000 and $26,000 of its $1.3m.

    Cor Cordis received $356,000 for its six month stint as administrator, from May 22 to November 29, a period which saw Picton gain receipts in of $3.12m, while payments out were $2.95m.

    The Dec 18 court case came after several adjournments. The court ruled against the ATO, citing the approved DOCA, but in an interesting move it awarded the ATO’s costs against Picton.

    The DOCA has caused uproar in the WA printing community, as they point out that it effectively means that while they have all been writing cheques to the tax office for 100c in the dollar, and paying their paper bills in full for the past four years, and pricing their jobs accordingly, Picton has not, and now does not have to, having shed itself of more than $3.5m of its $3.6m debt, which is owed to 72 unsecured creditors.

    Administrator Jeremy Nipps says the DOCA is a legitimate tool to help a struggling business move forward. However one local print identity told Print21, “If this is the outcome then the ATO’s new anti-phoenixing unit is a gigantic waste of time and money. It beggars belief.”

    Picton put itself into voluntary administration in May when the ATO initiated its winding up order as Picton failed to pay its $1.3m tax bill.

    The ATO is thought to be under pressure from its own multi-million dollar anti-phoenixing unit to puruse Picton.

    Picton had been in trouble for four years, ever since 2014 when it put in a new B1 ten-colour press, which even at the time was viewed as optimistic for the Perth market, and it was compounded by the WA economy tanking virtually as soon as the press was commissioned.

    The press was installed on a business plan with sales of minimum $12m, at the time they were around $13.5m. However three years later they were less than $8m. This year sales will struggle to hit $6m.

    As well as the unsecured debts Picton has around $5.5m in loans from banks, secured against various properties.