Archive for April, 2003

  • Ultra-fast, low-cost spectrophotometer to streamline digital colour printing.

    The spectrophotometer – a system to measure colour as seen by the human eye – has potential uses in other fields that demand precise colour matching, including fabrics, paint, wallpaper, plastics and interior design, according to L.K. Mestha, a Xerox principal scientist.

    Today, colour printing – whether digital or offset – involves significant prepress work so that the printed output matches what the creative designer specifies. Specialists use spectrophotometers costing thousands of dollars to measure and duplicate the exact colours.

    Once printing begins, densitometers on the presses calculate optical density of colours on a grey scale, measuring whether the device has applied the correct amount of ink. Densitometers are colour blind; they can only note changes in density. They are not “smart” enough to identify colours or see if a colour deviates from the original.

    Different papers and inks, variations in atmospheric humidity and temperature, and, in digital printers, internal changes in variables such as materials, static electricity, and age of the parts – all can change colours subtly.

    So although the colours may have been matched precisely in the prepress stage, they can drift as image after image is churned out. Even when it’s right on one press, matching the same colour on different machines is a real challenge.

    A breakthrough in cost as well

    Xerox’s invention is a breakthrough in both measurement and control. Scientists designed a spectrophotometer that costs less than one-sixth the price of current models. It will be embedded inside a digital printer to make full colour measurements on each passing page in a few milliseconds.

    In that brief time, the spectrophotometer shines light of different colours from several LED’s onto tiny colour patches on paper moving at the speed of the printer, analyses the reflected light, and determines its colour makeup “on the fly.”

    With Xerox-proprietary control algorithms, the digital printer can compare the colour of each patch to the colour in the original image. While the machine is running, the system can make minute adjustments to all the pixels in the image at the machine printing speed – no human involvement will be required. It’s like automatically sampling cookies on the conveyor belt and changing the recipe while more cookies are in the oven.

    “When machines can regulate themselves, they won’t have to be designed with micron-level precision, parts will last longer, they will be able to tolerate differences in materials and operating environments, and the result will be fewer service calls. Printing professionals will be able to minimize prepress work and operator interventions, yet deliver more saleable prints,” Mestha said.

    The technology, in the research labs now, is expected to show up in stages in next-generation digital colour printers within two years. It is also available for licensing.

  • PrintEx03 workshops to lift the bar in industry presentations

    “Many of the subjects which are being presented clearly demonstrate that our industry is thinking in new, dynamic and exciting ways,” said Angus Scott, Chairman, PrintEx03. (pictured) “The generosity of our industry colleagues in sharing their knowledge will ultimately benefit all of us and cause the bar to be raised as we seek smarter, more professional ways of thinking, managing and delivering to our customers.”

    The workshop topics not only relate to the day-to-day print and graphics issues, but many presentations are looking beyond the improvement of print and graphic skills to the underlying management requirements for running a successful business.

    The workshops will be run in three streams: Design & Prepress; Press & Postpress; Workflow & Management.

    Timetables for the three PrintEx03 Theatres

    Room 1: Design & Prepress

    Room 2: Press & Postpress

    Room 3: Workflow & Management

    Thursday 29 May 2003

    • 10.30 AM Kodak Polychrome Graphics
      Presenter: Rob Mollee, Plate Product Specialist Australia & New Zealand, Kodak Polychrome Graphics
      Room 1
    • 10:45 AM Polynyl Plastics
      POLYURETHANE PRINTING ROLLERS: Their advantages and value to the industry
      Presenter: Russell Rayner, Director, Polynyl Plastics Australia
      Room 2
    • 11:00 AM Artwork Systems
      ODYSTAR WORKFLOW SYSTEM: A highly automated workflow system based on PDF 1.4 and JDF. Designed for mid-range commercial printers, trade shops and in-plant management sites
      Presenter: Filip Carrein, Product Manager Commercial Colour & Publishing, Artwork Systems
      Room 3
    • 11:30 AM CPI
      DIGITAL PROOFING: Acceptance in the marketplace; current & future technologies & market directions
      Presenter: Ian Martin, National Manager, Imaging Equipment & Consumables, CPI
      Room 1
    • 11:45 AM Seaga Group
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 2
    • 12:00 PM PIAA
      BENCHMARKING – THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXISTENCE & PROFITABILITY: Discover what are the acceptable levels of business cost and investment in people & equipment, and how to increase your market share
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 3
    • 12:30 PM Roland DG
      COLOUR MANAGEMENT – GETTING THE COLOUR YOU WANT: Explaining Pantone colours and making it work for you
      Presenter: Marcus Adler, General Manager, Roland DG Australia
      Room 1
    • 12:45 PM Hurst Australia
      TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE FOR PRINTERS: Informed discussion about the principles of lithography using troubleshooting charts
      Presenter: John Shallvey, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Hurst Australia
      Room 2
    • 1:00 PM Fuji Xerox
      Presenter: Brett Maishman, Graphic Arts Industry Marketing Manager, Fuji Xerox
      Room 3
    • 1:30 PM Creo
      NETWORKED GRAPHIC PRODUCTION: Philosophy for print production today & the future
      Presenter: Alan Noon, Product Marketing Manager, Creo Asia Pacific
      Room 1
    • 1:45 PM Web Dynamics
      UNDERSTANDING TENSION CONTROL: The basis of all successful printing & converting operations is effective management of web tension – this presentation will broadly discuss tensions, the tension zones present in most machines, and the various types of tension recommended for each zone
      Presenter: Keith Gillard, Director, Web Dynamics
      Room 2
    • 2:00 PM Scitex Digital Printing
      THE WORLD OF 1-TO-1: MAKING MASS CUSTOMISATION A REALITY: Colour + Personalization = Power. How to increase the promotional power of your printed materials
      Presenter: Dan Denofsky, Marketing Director Asia Pacific & Japan, Scitex Digital Printing
      Room 3
    • 2:30 PM Pacific Inks Australia
      INTERNET COLOUR MATCHING: Colour matching using L*a*b Values or PMS numbers from Pacific Inks’ online database
      Presenter: Dr Chris Marjo, Director, Pacific Inks Australia
      Room 1
    • 2:45 PM Applied Pressroom Technologies
      TECHNICAL FORMULATION WITH A Q&A ON: Chemistry/IPA reducing solution (press control range) & Water Miscible blanket and roller wash (hydro wash). Product samples available for visitors to feel the differences in fountain solution at different stages
      Presenter: Paul Jackson, Managing Director, Applied Pressroom Technologies and Mark Whiskin, Technical Chemist Manager, Applied Pressroom Technologies
      Room 2
    • 3:00 PM Adobe
      Adobe INDESIGN 2.0 – REDEFINING PAGE LAYOUT: Adobe InDesign 2.0 offers object transparency, long-document support, tables, XML import and export, a newly redesigned print dialog box and improved performance. Have your questions answered and find out about additional Adobe resources for print service providers Presenter: Nick Hodge, Channel and Technical Manager, Adobe Systems
      Room 3
    • 3:30 PM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Mike DiCosola, Chromaticity (US)
      Room 1
    • 3:45 PM Lamkote
      SPECIALTY FILMS & HIGH SPEED MACHINES: Pressure sensitive films, extremely high UV films, fluropolymer films, tediar films and scratchproof films (all over laminate films and adhesives)
      Presenter: Ian Cleary, National Product Manager, Lamkote
      Room 2
    • 4:00 PM Kurz
      BRAND PROTECTION & THE ROLE OF THE CONVERTER: A presentation on the latest in worldwide brand protection and a discussion of OVD (optically variable device) technology that offers brand protection that is easy to identify and difficult to imitate
      Presenter: Helen Timbers, Security Products, Kurz Australia
      Room 3
    • 4:30 PM Anderson & Vreeland
      ANILOX ROLLERS: An update on the progress of ceramic anilox
      Presenter: Darryl Wilson, Anderson & Vreeland
      Room 1
    • 4:45 PM Ferag
      Presenter: Roger Corney, Area Sales Manager, Lüscher
      Room 2
    • 5:00 PM PIAA
      WORKPLACE SAFETY – A TIME BOMB IN YOUR WORKPLACE: A must-attend session for employers and employees wanting to avoid personal liability, career or business loss. Presenter: To be announced
      Room 3
    • 5:30 PM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Henry Ng, Asia Pacific Technical Director, Best Digital Proofing Software
      Room 1
    • 5:45 PM National Printing Laboratory
      THE NATIONAL PRINTING LABORATORY: WHAT CAN IT DO FOR YOU? Presenters will use both still and moving pictures to describe equipment in the laboratory, taking questions from the floor
      Presenter: David Watkins, Specialist Consultant and John McConnell, Laboratory Manager, National Printing Laboratory
      Room 2
    • 6:00 PM Apple/HELIOS Software
      A COMPLETE PRODUCTION SERVER SOLUTION FOR PRINT, PUBLISHING & DESIGN: Featuring Xserve, Mac OS X Server & HELIOS Software. HELIOS offers server-based OPI, colour separations, image conversion, PDF workflow, proofing solutions and also provides the world leading Image Conversion engine. Learn how HELIOS running on Apple Xserve can streamline your workflow, provide centralized storage, simplify network administration and deliver new services that help your business grow
      Presenter: Tom Hallinan, Strategic Partner Manager, HELIOS Software and Ricky Patten, Director, DataBasics
      Room 3
    • 6:30 PM Avery Graphics/Spandex Australia
      UNDERSTANDING WIDE FORMAT DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: Providing an overview of different wide format digital print technologies with an emphasis on print performance, applications, media & technology development
      Speaker: Mousa Elsarky, Market Manager, Avery Graphics
      Room 1
    • 6:45 PM DaiNippon Screen
      Presenter: David Evans, Sales Manager Northern Region, DaiNippon Screen
      Room 2
    • 7:00 PM Agfa Gevaert/ DataBasics
      AGFA DIGITAL MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS WITH CANTO: Agfa’s Digital Management Solutions for organising & publishing digital files etc., is based on the world-leading Digital Asset Management system from Canto Cumulus and Agfa’s ApogeeX automated workflow. Includes an overview of global trends in DAM & how this can improve profitability
      Presenter: Ricky Patten, Director, DataBasics
      Room 3
    • NB: Last daily Workshop Session ends at 7:50 PM

    Friday 30 May 2003

    • 10.30 AM Anderson & Vreeland
      FLEXOGRAPHIC MOUNTING TAPE: Open cell versus closed cell
      Presenter: Bob White, Rogers Corporation
      Room 1
    • 10:45 AM Hurst Australia
      TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE FOR PRINTERS: Informed discussion about the principles of lithography using troubleshooting charts
      Presenter: John Shallvey, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Hurst Australia
      Room 2
    • 11.00 AM PIAA
      WORKPLACE SAFETY – A TIME BOMB IN YOUR WORKPLACE: A must-attend session for employers and employees wanting to avoid personal liability, career or business loss
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 3
    • 11:30 AM Kodak Polychrome Graphics
      COLOUR PROOFING – THE MARKET & TRENDS: Discussion about the KPG range of proofing technologies
      Presenter: Rob Pipe, World Wide Product Manager Contone Proofing Products, KPG
      Room 1
    • 11:45 AM Web Graphics/Edale Ltd
      SERVO TECHNOLOGY IN THE FLEXO INDUSTRY: This presentation covers the use of servo to both enhance and add value to a narrow web flexo press
      Presenter: Alan Chandler, International Sales Manager, Edale Ltd
      Room 2
    • 12:00 PM Konica
      HIGH VOLUME COLOUR & MONO DIGITAL PRINTING, VARIABLE DATA, WEB-BASED PRINT JOB SUBMISSION: Covers the latest Konica printer, copier & scanner; mono products with on line finishing, booklet making & hole punching; plus Postscript web-based software solutions to improve workflow within print-on-demand businesses and central print rooms
      Presenter: Rob Knight, Product Manager, Konica
      Room 3
    • 12:30 PM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Henry Ng, Asia Pacific Technical Director, Best Digital Proofing Software
      Room 1
    • 12:45 PM HP Indigo
      HP’S VISION OF THE FUTURE FOR DIGITAL PRINT: Strategies for the development of digital print opportunities for print service providers, agencies and enterprises
      Presenter: To be announced, HP Indigo UK
      Room 2
    • 1:00 PM GASAA
      EBOOKS – WHAT’S THAT GOT TO DO WITH PRINT? Ebooks may seem like science fiction, but they provide business opportunities not to be ignored by innovative graphic arts companies
      Presenter: Garry Knespal, Executive Officer, Graphic Arts Services Association of Australia
      Room 3
    • 1:30 PM Agfa Gevaert
      NEW INNOVATIONS IN DIGITAL PROOFING: A leading Agfa international proofing specialist will discuss the latest innovations and future directions in digital proofing
      Presenter: Jan Cox, International Product Manager – Workflow Systems, Agfa
      Room 1
    • 1:45 PM Böttcher
      PARTNERS FOR PROFIT: The bottom-line impact of purchasing decisions; how to control the reduction in consumable consumption; and principles for success in press maintenance
      Presenter: Mitchell Mulligan, General Manager, Böttcher Australia
      Room 2
    • 2:00 PM Adobe
      ADOBE ACROBAT 6.0 – NOW IN PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH: Acrobat gives you even more powerful tools for print production. Preview and print colour separations, event see transparency flattening and overprint – right in an Adobe PDF file. Check for PostScript errors and PDF/X compliance with built-in preflighting tools. Receive high-quality Adobe PDF files – with embedded error reports. Be among the first Print Service Providers in Australia to see the new features of Acrobat 6.0
      Presenter: Nick Hodge, Channel and Technical Manager, Adobe Systems
      Room 3
    • 2:30 PM Creo Asia Pacific
      NETWORKED GRAPHIC PRODUCTION: Philosophy for print production today & the future
      Presenter: Alan Noon, Product Marketing Manager, Creo Asia Pacific
      Room 1
    • 2:45 PM Castrol
      CASTROL HIGH TECHNOLOGY LUBRICANTS: For optimum performance, modern high performance printing plants need the best protection against paper dust, humidity & wear – that’s why leading printing manufacturers approve Castrol High Technology Lubricants, offering excellent adhesion, penetration, & water resistance which promotes longer life and better performance
      Presenter: Nigel Jenny, Technical Manager, Castrol Performance Lubricants
      Room 2
    • 3.00 PM PIAA
      BENCHMARKING – THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXISTENCE & PROFITABILITY: Discover what are the acceptable levels of business cost and investment in people & equipment, and how to increase your market share
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 3
    • 3:30 PM DaiNippon Screen
      Presenter: David Evans, Sales Manager Northern Region, DaiNippon Screen
      Room 1
    • 3:45 PM Muller Martini
      Presenter: Gerard Tschan, Vice President Marketing, Muller Martini
      Room 2
    • 4:00 PM CostMaster
      TEN TIPS ON PROFITABLE DIGITAL PRINTING: Digital printing has been a minefield for many entrants – digital shops both large & small have gone bust, but many survive and even thrive. What are they doing differently? There are solid reasons why some digital shops can make a profit and some can’t. Hear it from Australia’s leading print cost analyst Ian Maclean – he has no connection to any copier supplier company
      Presenter: Ian Maclean, Director, CostMaster
      Room 3
    • 4:30 PM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Mike DiCosola, Chromaticity (US)
      Room 1
    • 4:45 PM Polynyl Plastics
      POLYURETHANE PRINTING ROLLERS: Their advantages and value to the industry
      Presenter: Russell Rayner, Director, Polynyl Plastics Australia
      Room 2
    • 5:00 PM Artwork Systems
      ODYSTAR WORKFLOW SYSTEM: A highly automated workflow system based on PDF 1.4 and JDF. Designed for mid-range commercial printers, trade shops and in-plant management sites
      Presenter: Filip Carrein, Product Manager Commercial Colour & Publishing, Artwork Systems
      Room 3

    NB: Last daily Workshop Session ends at 5:50 PM

    Saturday 31 May 2003

    • 10.30 AM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Henry Ng, Asia Pacific Technical Director, Best Digital Proofing Software
      Room 1
    • 10:45 AM Polynyl Plastics
      POLYURETHANE PRINTING ROLLERS: Their advantages and value to the industry
      Presenter: Russell Rayner, Director, Polynyl Plastics Australia
      Room 2
    • 11:00 AM PIAA
      TAKE THE ‘WORK’ OUT OF NETWORKING YOUR BUSINESS: See how simple but smart network design can dramatically improve customer satisfaction and profit. Learn about the golden rules of best practice network design for printing companies and how key technologies such as Firewalls and ADSL work (in layman’s terms), and the mistakes to avoid
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 3
    • 11:30 AM Creo
      NETWORKED GRAPHIC PRODUCTION: Philosophy for print production today & the future
      Presenter: Alan Noon, Product Marketing Manager, Creo Asia Pacific
      Room 1
    • 11:45 AM Andstine Services
      GLUEING & QUALITY ASSURANCE SYSTEMS: Computerised gluing systems for paper finishing and carton folding; Q.A. systems for glue; foils; anti-tamper; bar codes & pharmaceuticals
      Presenter: Andrew Hine, Managing Director, Andstine Services
      Room 2
    • 12:00 PM Quote & Print
      CLIENT SERVICE- DELIVER WHAT THEY WANT! Reviewing the client’s perception of ‘service’ and using the tools of your Management Information System to provide that service both in e-commerce and traditional client relationships
      Presenter: Christopher Clear, Sales Manager, Quote & Print Software
      Room 3
    • 12:30 PM Kodak Polychrome Graphics
      COLOUR PROOFING – THE MARKET & TRENDS: Speaker will discuss the market & trends with product emphasis on digital halftone & inkjet
      Presenter: Chris Goldsmith, Worldwide Director of Research & Development for Proofing & Software Solutions, KPG
      Room 1
    • 12:45 PM Hurst Australia
      TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE FOR PRINTERS: Informed discussion about the principles of lithography using troubleshooting charts
      Presenter: John Shallvey, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Hurst Australia
      Room 2
    • 1:00 PM Inkman
      CORPORATE IDENTITY: IT’S MORE THAN JUST A LOGO: Explaining what ‘corporate identity’ is in relation to print applications; emphasizing the importance of a strong corporate identity and the need to think outside the square
      Presenter: Ben Effeney & Rohan Smith, Inkman graphic designers
      Room 3
    • 1:30 PM Colorite Equipment
      COLOUR MANAGEMENT & PROFILING: THE WHAT, THE WHY & THE HOW: A practical guide demonstrating why & how colour management is applied in typical situations. Covers the theory of CIE L*a*b common colour space, device dependent measurement and reproduction, and the creation, editing and application of ICC profiles
      Presenter: Trevor Canty, National Technical Sales Manager, Colorite Equipment and David Mulligan, Managing Director, Colorite Equipment
      Room 1
    • 1:45 PM Ferag
      Presenter: Roger Corney, Area Sales Manager, Lüscher
      Room 2
    • 2:00 PM Artwork Systems
      ODYSTAR WORKFLOW SYSTEM: A highly automated workflow system based on PDF 1.4 and JDF. Designed for mid-range commercial printers, trade shops and in-plant management sites
      Presenter: Filip Carrein, Product Manager Commercial Colour & Publishing, Artwork Systems
      Room 3
    • 2:30 PM D.E.S.
      Presenter: Mike DiCosola, Chromaticity (US)
      Room 1
    • 2:45 PM D2P (Australasia)
      Presenter: To be announced
      Room 2
    • 3:00 PM Avery Graphics/Spandex Australia
      UNDERSTANDING WIDE FORMAT DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: Providing an overview of different wide format digital print technologies with an emphasis on print performance, applications, media & technology development
      Presenter: Mousa Elsarky, Market Manager, Avery Graphics
      Room 3

    NB: Last daily Workshop Session ends at 3:50 PM

  • Strike pushes NZ paper mill to the brink

    Press reports confirm that CHH, the mill’s owners, are saying that nothing short of a miracle will save the plant from closure next week. Unions scoff at the suggestion, maintaining they have heard it before and labelling it a negotiating tactic.

    According to a report in The New Zealand Herald, Brice Landman, CEO Kinleith, said that when the flagship mill runs out of work in the next two weeks, the company will be forced to look at putting it into an indefinite care and maintenance programme. Maintenance staff still working would be asked to take annual or unpaid leave.

    “But I hope that the proposed suspension is not a precursor to closure,” he said.

    The dispute began when 270 mill workers went on strike on March 7 over what they claim is company procrastination in reaching a new collective agreement to replace the previous one that expired over a year and a half ago. They have issues with management over promotion methods, and being asked to fight fires and clean up chemical spills.

    Carter Holt Harvey CEO Peter Springford commended the Kinleith team’s efforts to maintain supplies to key customers.

    “The need for the mill to pay its way is as strong now as it was on 27 March last year when the restructuring process began. The international pulp and paper business remains fiercely competitive, and the rise of the kiwi dollar has only increased the pressure on the mill,” he said.

    “It is therefore vital that we get Kinleith to a point where it will have a sustainable future, benefiting the local community, the forest industry and the New Zealand economy as a whole.

    “I am concerned about the flow-on effects, for our customers and others, of a prolonged strike at Kinleith. Many other industries in New Zealand rely on steady supplies of pulp and paper from Kinleith.

    “We have been in close contact with all of our customers throughout the strike, and I support the Kinleith management team’s efforts to maintain supplies of product, particularly to customers in major export industries such as dairying and kiwifruit.

    “The strike is destructive for Kinleith and the South Waikato community. Lost wages from the mill means reduced spending power, affecting families, businesses and the community at large. The company wants to reach a settlement with the union but after making such good progress over the past year we are not about to bargain away the mill’s future now.

    “Unprofitable mills close around the world on a regular basis. Nobody wants this to happen at Kinleith,” he concluded.

  • Reverse print auctions are impacting UK industry

    According to a story by editor Jo Francis, in UK industry publication, Print Week, a large travel catalogue printing contract was recently placed through a reverse auction web site. A reverse auction is a live online bidding process where printers undercut one another’s bids. The lowest bid gets the work.

    While there are no reports of any printing contracts being placed on Australian and New Zealand reverse auction sites, the potential is alarming some industry observers. According to Gary Donnison, CEO of Printing Industries reverse auctions treat printing as a commodity where price is the only consideration.

    “It would be a shame if this practice takes root here. It flies in the face of the service and added value model for printers we are promoting through the Print21 Action Agenda,” he said.

    The nearest thing the local industry has are some print management sites where printers bid for jobs. The jobs are only available to a select group of printers who have signed on to provide work for the company.

    The Print Week report detailed one printer’s experience of seeing two auctions where a AUD$228,000 job fell by more than 40 per cent, while the other saw a $634,000 contract go for less than $482,000.

    Read the UK story on

  • Clancy column . . . the overflow . . . the best bits . . . funnies

    Visitors are invited to download and process test files through their own colour proofing systems and bring the test results to the seminar. They will then compare their proofs to those of the participating vendors and judge for themselves how to improve their proofing results.


    The U.S. Justice Department gets pretty serious when it comes to anti-competitive practices. After paper manufacturer UPM-Kymmene’s Raflatac subsidiary got the nod from the EU Commission to buy MACtac for US$420 million, the JD Antitrust Division stepped in and informed the company it was set to file a lawsuit to prevent the deal. The Justice Department also said it expects to begin a criminal investigation into competitive practices in the label stock industry in the US.

    In our region the industry is dominated by just two suppliers, Avery-Dennison and Raflatac, ever since the take over by Avery-Dennison of Jac. A price rise of 5-6% went through early in the year. Meanwhile label printers are grumbling that ordering times have blown out as consolidation proceeds.


    Milestone department. . . Apple has sold more than 150,000 AirPort Extreme wireless networking products in this past quarter, representing nearly half of all 802,11 products the company shipped during the quarter. AirPort Extreme is the next generation of Wi-Fi wireless networking technology based on the new ultra-fast 802.11g standard. Compatible with millions of 802.11b-based Wi-Fi products, 802.11g offers data rates almost five times faster and is quickly gaining widespread acceptance as the next generation standard for wireless networking.


    When you run out of paper to print here’s a new market. A UK company, Generics Group, has invented a system that may allow super-slim fuel cells to be manufactured on a printing press. By premixing fuel with oxygen rather than keeping them in separate, adjacent compartments, the new design would lead to smaller cell size and increased power density. A roll-to-roll printing press would provide the optimal means of creating the fuel cells, producing extremely thin devices that could produce electricity when exposed to a fuel-and-air mixture.


    Sunday April 27 is world graphic design day (wherever do they get these ideas from?) Agda in Victoria is hosting two events to mark the occasion. Event #1 is a guided tour of Douglas Annand’s The Art of Life at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. This exhibition is the first to recognise Douglas Annand’s contribution to the development of Australian modernism. A graphic designer of great ability and style, from the early 1930s Annand set new standards for Australian designers with images that were international in their philosophy, yet typically Australian.

    Event #2 is a free visit to the Great Expectations Exhibition, Design Council, UK, at the Melbourne Museum.

    For more information call AGDA on 03 9685 7533


    E-mail security provider MessageLabs reports that of the 104.91 million e-mail messages it tracked in March 2003, roughly 38.1 million (36%) were spam messages. MessageLabs bases its findings on data gathered directly from its infrastructure monitoring e-mail messages for companies worldwide. The company reports that over one-half of spam messages came from the US, with 5.6% from China and 5.2% from Great Britain. MessageLabs also found over 80% of e-mail messages received by businesses in the accounting sector were spam, while just 24.06% of e-mails received by companies in the retail sector were spam.


    And finally . . . here’s something fairly esoteric from the Wellington Scottish Pipes and Drums web site
    It seems that drummers are the Irish of the pipe band world. Mind you, some are fairly in-trade but see what you think.

    Drummer Jokes

  • How can you tell if there’s a bass drummer at the door? – The knock speeds up.
  • How do you get a drummer to play an accelerando? – Ask him to play in 4/4 at a steady 120 bpm.
  • A man is standing on a street corner with a sign saying, “Tell me your IQ and I’ll guess your profession.” A guy walks up, and says “My IQ is 147.” “Oo…”, says the man. “You’re a nuclear physicist, eh?” “That’s right”, says the guy, and walks off. A second guy walks up and says, “My IQ is 189.” “Wow”, says the man. “Brain surgeon, eh?” “Right you are”, says guy #2 and he walks off. A third guy walks up and says, “My IQ is 62.” The man asks, “Really? What kind of sticks do you use?”
  • How many tenor drummers does it take to change a lightbulb? – “What’s a lightbulb?”
  • How does a tenor drummer’s brain cell die? – Alone.
  • A piper and a bass drummer were walking in a park. The piper saw a dead bird and said to the bass drummer, “Look, a dead bird.” The bass drummer looked up and asked, “Where?”
  • Dreary year ahead for press manufacturer

    The leading pressmaker will continue its cost-cutting programme, flagging another 1,000 jobs to go worldwide in anticipation of a further decline in sales.

    In presenting the preliminary figures for past year the Heidelberg Management Board maintains that ‘given the considerable uncertainties about the economic development over the next time, it is not possible at this early stage of the fiscal year to make a more specific forecast about sales and results.’

    The sales figures for 2002/2003 were in line with expectations. Preliminary sales by the Heidelberg Group were around AUD$7.2 billion (Euro 4.1 billion (previous year: Euro 5 billion). Incoming orders in the last fiscal year were about Euro 4 billion (previous year: almost Euro 4.6 billion).

    “We still find ourselves in a difficult economic climate,” stated Bernhard Schreier, CEO of Heidelberg. “Throughout the print media industry worldwide investors remain very resistant.”

    The preliminary operating profit for the period under review was Euro 102 million (previous year: Euro 356 million).

    As of March 31, 2003, the Heidelberg Group had a workforce of 24,181 worldwide. This figure includes the some 550 employees from the companies of the Gallus Group and IDAB WAMAC International AB, which were consolidated for the first time. Adjusted for this effect, this represents a reduction of around 1,500 employees compared to the previous year.

    All in all, the planned measures to cut costs will affect some additional 1,000 jobs worldwide. Details are currently being worked out and every effort will be made to keep the social impact as small as possible. Discussions with the relevant bodies concerning these measures are in preparation.

    The possibility of further closures of Heidelberg production sites worldwide is hereby also being examined.

  • Job of the week – Production Technology Consultant Sydney

    The successful applicant will complete assigned tasks and projects, which will, along with providing support and information to Kwik Kopy Centres in the area of production equipment and technology, ensure utmost efficiencies and productivity levels in the system.

    The role involves a high level of interaction with Kwik Kopy Owners, staff and suppliers with reasonable periods of interstate travel.

    Skills required include proven ability to negotiate, to communicate effectively in both written and verbal formats and to provide training in workflow procedures.

    Experience in acquisition or evaluation of digital print equipment and in franchising is an advantage.

    Please submit your expression of interest to:

    Sue Waite
    Kwik Kopy Australia
    PO Box 657
    Northbridge 2063

    For more printing and graphic arts jobs and personnel click on:

  • The Clancy Column . . . overflow . . . the best bits . . . funnies

    The polyester platesetter, which has proved to be a huge hit for the Currie Group, will be marketed as the Heidelberg Polysetter52. The platesetter is seen as an important entry-level machine for small format printers taking their first steps into CTP. Heidelberg already has larger violet and thermal machines.


    KBA has had a remarkable run while other press manufacturers were hit hard by the downturn in equipment sales, but the tough times are catchingup. Although it boosted turnover by 3.8% to AUD$2,409.39m in 2002, at $1,930.08m the volume of new orders was 9.5% down on the previous year’s figure of $2,131.85m while the backlog of orders on hand shrank 24.4% to $1,482.31m.

    According to KBA deputy president Albrecht Bolza-Schünemann, who will succeed Reinhart Siewert as president when the latter retires at the end of June, prospects for the current year are subdued. Hopes of a quick recovery have been dashed by the war in Iraq. As a result KBA anticipates a drop in group turnover of around 10% in 2003. The group concedes it is planning further personnel cuts and may have to close some parts of its operations.


    Two separate issues with the Xaar XJ500 inkjet print head each cost the company AUD$1.5m, sending the high-tech UK company into the red in the first half of the year. The company said that following modifications to the XJ500 in late 2002 due to warranty issues, it has decided to replace customers’ stocks of the old print head with modified heads.


    Milestones department. What better way for EFI, the thriving corporation whose Fiery RIPs drive most digital engines, to celebrate its millionth sale than to open a trading session of that symbol of high tech ambition, the NASDAQ. The one millionth Fiery went to Kinko’s. Other Fiery milestones are:

    • First Fiery introduced at Seybold in Boston in 1991. Colour printing breakthrough at 5 pages-per-minute
    • 1992 – EFI goes public (Nasdaq:EFII). At end of year, Fiery is deployed at several thousand locations
    • 1994 – EFI named to Fortune Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies with over $97 million in revenues
    • 1996 – 50,000 Fiery installed worldwide
    • 1998 – 500,000 Fiery deployed worldwide
    • 2000 – 700,000 Fiery deployed worldwide
    • 2002 – EFI ends year with over 20 international offices, nearly 1,000 employees and revenues of $350 million
    • 2002 – EFI announces its Fastest Fierys ever, including one for transactional printing that will print variable data in colour at 2000 pages per minute!


    Great expectations are realised at Adobe System’s Australian office where corporate recognition means that four staff take on expanded roles. Craig Tegel will now extend his sales duties becoming Director of Sales for Asia Pacific, covering Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Korea.
    Jordan Reizes has been appointed the Senior Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific, also managing marketing in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Korea.
    Judith Salonga, previously Marketing Communications Manager now takes on extra responsibility as Adobe’s marketing manager in Australia and New Zealand.
    Jane Brady is the new Programs and Events Manager, with responsibility for co-ordinating Adobe’s roadshows.


    Canada’s antitrust watchdog is investigating allegations of price fixing among paper suppliers for office papers. Among the companies under investigation is Australian-owned PaperlinX company, Coast Paper. The other three, who were also served with search warrants for documents, are Cascades, Domtar, and Unisource Canada. “The allegation is based on the assumption that Cascades Resources and its competitors would have colluded to unduly reduce market competition between paper merchants in Canada,” Cascades said in a statement. The four companies account for nearly all office and commercial printing paper sold in Canada.


    Heidelberg launched two new versions of the NexPress 2100 at the On Demand show in New York. The digital colour press is now available in three different configurations: the Standard Edition for “static” and variable data printing; Xtreme for more complex variable data jobs; and Entry for static printing (i.e., short-run, quick-turnaround work without variable data).
    All models are powered by the new NexStation II digital front-end while the Xtreme and Standard Editions are also equipped with the new Adobe Acrobat-based NexTreme DL-100 variable data software.


    CAP Ventures recently concluded a series of surveys with US print buyers and print providers about their current and planned use of the internet for print and print-related services. According to the report, both groups expect to make significant increases in their use of Web-based solutions over the coming years.

    CAP Ventures estimates that the size of the e-print infrastructure market in the United States during 2002 was just under US$100 million. Analysts expect the market to grow from $100 million in 2002 to over $260 million in 2006, representing a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 23%.
    The market offers considerable growth potential as e-print solutions continue to make their way into the mainstream of print production.


    And finally . . . Something for the Easter bunny.

    One day God came to Adam and says, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” said God.
    Adam said, “OK, give me the good news.”
    God said, “I’ve got two new organs for you. One is a brain. It will allow you to be very intelligent, create new things, and have intelligent conversations with Eve. The other organ is a penis. It will allow you to reproduce your now intelligent life form and populate this planet. Eve will be very happy that you now have this organ to give her children.”
    So Adam said, “These are great gifts. What could possibly be bad news?”
    “The bad news is you only have enough blood to operate one of these organs at a time”.

  • Process-free CTP plate goes into beta testing

    Applause is a wet offset printing plate, that Prestek claims is unique in that it requires no processing at all before being able to print. According to a company release, users simply image the plate, hang it on press, and print.

    The plate is rated for run lengths up to 100,000 impressions, with reported wide ink/water latitude, high resolution, and compatibility with existing press chemistries.

    Applause was previewed as a technology exhibit in April 2002 at the IPEX trade show in Birmingham, England, and again in October at Graph Expo in Chicago. At Graph Expo, Applause was recognized with a Must See ’Em award for being an innovation most likely to impact the printing industry.

    Presstek’s General Manager, Off-Press Products, David Ventola said, “Applause is the fourth generation of process-free plates from Presstek.
    We believe this is a revolutionary product that will set the standard for CTP plates in the future.

    “The beta program will be conducted in the first half of 2003, and we anticipate a commercial launch of Applause for the CTP market approximately mid-year. Applause is imaged in one step and is immediately ready to be mounted on the press with no intermediate steps.

    “The benefits to the user include: quicker turn-around time for a job, lower cost of operation, better consistency, fewer errors, and environmentally friendly operation. We believe Applause is the ultimate in off-press digital imaging.”

  • New online support website for Fuji Xerox Australia customers

    OSA is a powerful, fully searchable web enabled product knowledge database, which allows users to find help in a fast, efficient and self-directed manner. Customers can submit a query and search on a specific topic, or simply browse through a list of solutions organised by product topic.

    Users can also utilise the powerful fault code search mechanism, access error messages, or quickly access product specifications and FAQs. This free self-help tool is available to all Fuji Xerox Australia customers via

    “Supporting our customers before, during and after sale is the prime focus of Fuji Xerox Australia,” said Justin Russell, Customer Care Solutions Manager, Fuji Xerox Australia. “Our vision is to deliver a consistent customer experience, actioning customer issues promptly and professionally, and connecting them with the right enterprise resource. It’s all about making it easier for our customers to do business with us.”

    “When customers need help with their Xerox product, and have access to the Internet, Online Support Assistant is the answer. It’s like having your own personal Xerox support centre available 24 hours a day every day – you can access service related help via the Web instead of using the telephone,” said Russell.

    “To access Online Support Assistant, the customer simply clicks on the Support and Drivers icon on our website, selects the appropriate product and is taken through to the solutions, ‘how to’ examples, product information and answers to frequently asked questions,” explained Russell. “Initially, we are launching access to solutions for 20 of our most recent products. We intend to continually add more information as the product range grows.”

    If the customer is unable to find the answer through OSA, a request can be logged online – the Customer Care Centre team will acknowledge receipt of the request within 10 minutes of lodgement. Customers can still contact the Customer Care Centre by telephone, if preferred.

    “The Customer Care Centre currently fields 38,000 phone calls per month and 3,000 web interactions,” said Russell. “Through the introduction of the Online Support System, we aim to improve customer satisfaction by making our customers more self-sufficient.”

    Currently, over ten per cent of calls received by the Customer Care Centre are resolved at first point of contact, without sending out a technician. When Xerox Corporation recently launched a similar eSupport system in the USA, the initial resolution rate increased dramatically.

    Once established in Australia, Fuji Xerox will be rolling the Online Support Assistant system out to other English-speaking customers across the Asia Pacific region, specifically New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

    OSA currently offers solutions for the following Xerox machines:
    Document Centres 230, 340, 400, 235, 285, 405, 265, 470, 490, C320, C400, 1010S (451, 551, 506, 606, 706 will be available shortly)
    DocuColor 1250, CS50 and 6060. (DocuColor 2060 and 2045 will be available shortly)
    DocuTech 135, 6135 and 6180
    WorkCentre Pro 416

  • New paper merchant to focus on printing industry

    Frank Huntley, ex-Daltons managing director who retired from PaperlinX last year and Roger Wood, ex-managing director of Raleigh Paper, who resigned following the Edwards Dunlop takeover, are the other two directors of the new company. Both are extremely well-connected in the paper industry on the supply and also on the customer side. Industry sources expect another high-profile paper professional to come on board at a later date.

    The new company is focusing (sic) on the printing industry, concentrating n relationship selling.

    “It is a question of getting back to basics,” said Ross Black. “There are great opportunities out there and while it is a tough industry, I believe the time is right for a new venture. The paper merchants who are doing well are the small independents, such as K.W.Doggett. PaperlinX has taken out Tomasetti and The Paper House, so printers have diminished choice.”

    At this stage orders have been placed with overseas mills for a wide variety of paper. Focus Paper is looking to get some runs on the board early and is not restricting itself to any one type of paper. It is also looking at operating in the indent market.

    Contact Ross Black on 0425 708 105.

  • Keynote speech from OnDemand Conference, New York

    Industry analyst, Noel Ward got into the conference early, coffee and muffin in hand, for a good seat. Here are some of the highlights and key points.

    Varying Perspectives

    Pesko noted the difficulties of 2001 and 2002, and did not hold out much hope for substantial improvements in 2003, and perhaps even into 2004. Print customers are more optimistic than print providers about whether print spending will increase, stay the same or decrease.

    • Among customers, the group that expects increases outnumbers those that expect decreases
    • Among printers, those anticipating a reduction outnumber those planning increases.
    • For print providers, this translates into a clear reluctance for capital spending, with only 15% expecting an increase and 38% a decline.

    Internet Adoption Impacting Print

    NAPL economists have noted that rises and fall in print industry revenue closely match U.S. GDP. Since the mid-90s this gap is getting wider. CAP Ventures believes this is related to the adoption of Internet usage in the home.

    • Home internet usage and low-cost ink jet printers has provided an outlet for pages.
    • Brochures, collateral and other promotional material previously available only via offset printing is now available in any Internet-connected household.
    • Displacement of print to electronic delivery and migration of print to non-production environments.

    Offset in Decline

    • Over 13,000 graphic arts establishments have closed or been acquired in the past 10 years.
    • Between 1999 and 2001, more than 21,000 offset presses have dropped out of the market–a 12% decrease.
    • Print is not dying–some segments are growing–but offset isn’t one of them.

    Pesko summed up this portion of his presentation noting, “Losing print jobs to local competition is not the problem. The issue is losing print jobs to other forms of business communication. Pages are moving to other output options because of underlying industry trends. This won’t change when the industry rebounds. It won’t be business as usual.”

    (In this analyst’s opinion, the shift to other output options may actually accelerate when the industry rebounds. This is why Pesko and others insist printers have to change their view of the business they are in and adjust to meet new market demands. Which is what Pesko covers next.)

    Opportunities for Growth

    Pesko says the best opportunities for growth come from:

    • having a super-efficient organization (several sessions here at the conference speak to this issue)
    • providing on demand digital printing
    • providing value-added services above and beyond print

    Super-Efficient Means

    • Focus on process-improvement
    • Coordinated procurement processes
    • Shared data repositories
    • Web as a common business tool

    On Demand Digital Printing

    • Convergence of computing, communications and printing
    • Fits evolving needs of business world
    • Easier to automate
    • Fits with value-added services
    • Emergence of universal coper/printer

    Value-Added Services

    Even though print services providers often offer much more than print, they are still often perceived as “just” printers. But about 30% of what they do is outside the press room. And in a recent NAPL survey, printers expect the component of their value-added services to nearly double in the next five years. Value-added services being added include:

    • Fulfillment and mailing
    • Document & content management
    • Variable data services
    • Design & photography
    • Electronic document delivery
    • Facilities management
    • Consulting

    The Pesko Prescription

    • Redefine your business: become a business communications provider.
    • Print has become a value-added service for data, and print providers’ marketing efforts should reflect that reality.
    • Don’t need to look to new markets and customers to build value-added services; build or expand your value-added services to existing customers to ensure future success.


    For feedback, suggestions or comments – reach Noel at

    Noel Ward is a print industry consultant, speaker and writer focusing on digital printing strategies and content development for print and electronic media. He conducts, technology assessments, market research, and competitive analyses to build strategies that help companies optimize the processes associated with document creation, production and distribution.

    One of the best-known US writers in the industry, Noel creates and produces white papers, case studies and electronic newsletters for several industry-leading companies and is editor and publisher of the electronic newsletter Digital Asset Directions. A believer in using technology to gain efficiencies and competitive advantages, his business motto is “If you’re not the lead sled dog, the view doesn’t change.”

    This article was originally published on
    Reproduced by permission.

  • Printer magazine fails in Singapore

    The sudden closure of the industry monthly publication left at least one international graphic arts manufacturer seeking compensation for prepaid advertising. Some advertisers were forced to contact the Australian company to find out if any further issues were forthcoming.

    Part of the publishing group owned by Anders Oqvist, which includes Australian Printer, New Zealand Printer and Inky Fingers, the magazine was originally founded in 1988 by Paul Callahan Jnr. a member of the well-known graphic arts publishing family. In recent years Callahan has returned to the SE Asian region with a competitive publication, PP&P Asia .

    In a statement, the publishers blamed the high cost of postage in the region and the failure to attract the required amount of advertising for the failure.

    “Whilst the publishers could, as others have done, “cut corners” whilst collecting the same revenue from advertisers, this would not be ethical, so the very difficult decision to cease publication of Asian Printer in its paper form was taken with immediate effect,” said the statement.

    The Printer Magazines group is now looking towards English, Chinese and other Asian language internet services to reach the SE Asian printing industry.

  • CPI to distribute Hartmann inks

    From May 1, 2003, CPI will become the sole distributor of Hartmann sheet-fed printing inks in Australia. CPI will offer the full range of Hartmann Ink products to the printing industry in Australia.

    CPI began testing Inks in September 2002 and sought input from a number of sources including key suppliers, CPI’s internal ink product specialists and press demonstrators.

    David Browne, CPI’s Manager – Ink Products, said CPI went back to first principles when selecting an ink for the Australian market. “We decided to go back to the start when the opportunity came along to change our ink supplier. We looked at the ink business from the bottom to the top to find out what ink would best suit our existing and potential customer base.”

    A selection criterion was put together and 14 different inks were chosen for testing. “This gave us the opportunity to look at every ink in the market place,” said Browne.
    “One of the key selection criteria was CPI’s commitment to vegetable oil based inks or as most people know them – Eco based inks.”

    The inks were tested at the independent laboratory, Independent Ink Technologies, and on the presses in CPI’s showrooms. An extensive testing regime was completed on each product using a variety of stocks in environments in different Australian states.

    CPI is increasing its staffing levels in its ink division and purchasing new mixing and laboratory equipment in each state. “We want to offer an increased service level in every state. CPI is totally committed to the Ink business and intends to remain a significant player in the future,” said Browne.

    With the introduction of the new Hartmann ink CPI has launched its new logo “CPInk – Professional Ink Services”.

    “CPI’s sales and service people will be trained in the full range of Hartmann products to complement the considerable support services that we already have in place within the company
    We will work on ensuring that customers can be smoothly transitioned to the new product range in a way that ensures that there is no disruption with their business,” said Browne.

  • Fairfax buys INL, the largest NZ print media company

    The transaction includes the two New Zealand Sunday tabloids,Sunday Star TImes and Sunday Time as well as seven regional dailies, 53 community publications, 13 magazine titles and the largest magazine distributor, Gordon & Gotch, plus commercial printing operations. Among the INL titles transferred are two major metropolitan dailies, The Press in Christchurch and The Dominion Post in Wellington. It does not include INL’s Australian title The Geelong Advertiser, although chairman Ken Cowley says there is interest in that title from a prospective buyer.

    The sell out is a rare concession on Rupert Murdochs’ part, famous for his reluctance to part with any newspaper titles anywhere in the world. Industry analysts speculate it reflects News Limited’s renewed focus on its pay television business – the sale dos not include INL’s New Zealand pay television division Sky Network Television.

    The sale, which places a high valuation on the INL business and is subject to regulatory approval, involves a complex revaluation of the mastheads including a sale and leaseback structure to minimise tax. Fairfax will sell the mastheads to an offshore investor which can amortise the goodwill and claim a tax deduction, something Australian companies cannot do. Following the sale 30 per cent of the company’s revenues will emanate from New Zealand.

    Fred Hilmer, CEO of Fairfax said, “We believe that we have secured this publishing group at a price that compares well with the price paid by APN for Wilson & Horton. We believe this acquisition represents sound value for Fairfax shareholders.”

    Fairfax will become the largest publisher in New Zealand ahead of Wilson & Horton, which publishes The New Zealand Herald in Auckland. According to Hilmer there is little overlap between the two groups. “That’s an important factor as it drives pricing power and a stability of earnings that we don’t enjoy here [Australia] with our urban papers,” he said.

    He expects to gain savings from improved management of the newspapers under Brian Evans, currently Fairfax group general manager, regional and community newspapers. He also flags better purchasing power with paper merchants, editorial sharing, printing and distribution.

    According to Dean Wills AO, Chairman of the Fairfax Board of Directors, the company’s intention is that the INL papers remain closely connected to their communities. He said that the company would establish an Advisory Board to ensure a positive ongoing relationship in this regard under Fairfax’s proprietorship.

    INL’s stable of printing presses, scattered throughout the country include Goss Communities, a HT70 and a number of MANRoland Unimans. Fairfax says the press assets are mid-way through a 20-year life cycle and do not require any major investment. It plans to upgrade the group’s colour printing capacity with a $1.2 million upgrade.

    INL had a turnover last year of NZ$873.5 million and announced a net profit after tax for the six months to 31 December 2002 of $38.8, a 43 per cent increase on the same period in the prior year. It forecasts a full year of operating earnings of $NZ130 million in 2004.

    Among the suburban publishing businesses involved in the change of ownership are:

    • Taranaki Newspapers Limited
    • The Christchurch Press Company Limited
    • The Dominion Post Limited
    • The Manawatu Standard Limited
    • The Marlborough Express Newspaper Company Limited
    • The Nelson Mail Limited
    • The Southland Times Company Limited
    • Timaru Herald Limited
    • Waikato Times Limited
  • Media Press goes to the wall

    The ambitious bid by industry notable, Theo Skalkos, to expand his publication printing business by taking over the facilities of the failed Diamond Press, has ended in failure. Administrators, Ferrier Hodgson closed down the company at the end of March, sacking the entire workforce after discovering that much of the prepress and printing equipment had been transferred to premises in Glebe housing Foreign Language Publications.

    The attempt to operate the equipment under the banner of FLP, another Skalkos entity, came unstuck when that company was also placed in administration with all staff being laid off early this week. Industry sources estimate a total of 50 workers were made redundant. The administrators refused to say whether all entitlements would be met.

    Spot Press, Marrickville, which is poised to be the main beneficiary of the collapse, picked up some Media Press printing staff. Ironically, George Georgantzakos, proprietor of Spot Press, bought the Albert A101 mini web from Diamond Press before Media Press moved into the Alexandria site. The company is heavily involved in the same specialist newspaper and ethnic publications market that was Media Press’ forte.

    Ferrier Hodgson confirmed that Steve Sherman and John Melluish have been appointed as administrators of Media Press and FLP and the two creditors committees are due to meet again in 28 days. Estimated debt of both companies amounts to $9.5 million. Of course, prominent among the debtors are the paper companies, with Norske Skog and Holman Papers to the fore.

  • Leigh-Mardon is up for sale

    The 165-year-old Mebourne-based company announced in-principle agreement with its, mainly overseas, bankers on a capital reorganisation of the business so that it can be sold debt-free. Expressions of interest have been received for the company.

    Managing Director, David Head, said that over the past six months the company had been working with its bankers to address its inherited long-term debt position in a way that would free up its strong underlying cash earnings to fund growth. The company is labouring under a debt of $A80 million, inherited from previous management and the former owners of its parent company, American Banknote Corporation (ABNC). The US giant, which has only recently emerged from three years in Chapter 11, bought Leigh-Mardon from Amcor in 1996 with the deal mainly funded by debt.

    An interest-for-equity swap with its bankers, which began two years ago, has enabled the company to comfortably service its debt while continuing its investment in new ventures and expansion into Asia. The bankers will take a hit in the recapitalisation, losing some of the paper value of their debts.

    “This is an exciting development for Leigh-Mardon, which is a market leader in secure transaction and ID products, services and logistics and has tremendous potential for further growth in Australia, New Zealand and Asia,” said Head.

    In February, the company and its bankers agreed in principle to a recapitalisation of the business, which would result in a significant debt reduction and provide the company with a more appropriate capital structure. As part of the recapitalisation, the lending syndicate has also agreed to defer the remaining principal repayments until the maturity date of the loan.

    According to Head, Leigh-Mardon’s underlying business is very strong, with revenues of around $125 million and cash earnings of $8–10 million. The decision to offer the company for sale came only after the company had received serious approaches from a number of parties interested in investing in the company.

    “While we were working through the process of recapitalisation, the extent of the interest from other parties led the directors to believe that the best course at this stage is to pursue a debt-free sale of the business.

    “Leigh-Mardon’s shareholders, management and bankers have unanimously supported this decision,” Mr Head said.

    Leigh-Mardon is a national supplier of security printing in Australia and New Zealand with 10 offices and more than 800 staff. Its business activities include the highly secure printing and personalising of cheques and plastic cards, electronic printing applications, print management, barcodes, licensing and ID products.