Archive for December, 2009

  • New OPUS CFO from NZ

    The private equity backed company stays true to its origins with the appointment of Ken Bugden as chief financial officer.

    The appointment is seen as bolstering the group’s New Zealand clout. Although primarily an Australian operation, the majority of its investors are Kiwi. Having the CFO in Auckland makes perfect sense and emphasizes its ongoing NZ identity.

    OPUS is continuing to look at growing both organically and from new acquisitions. According to CEO, Cliff Brigstocke, there will be some announcements early in the New Year.
    “We don’t like to say too much until everything is settled, but we will be making acquisitions,” he said.

    Ken Bugden is the former Chief Financial Officer of Might River Power and before that was a senior figure in the growth of publicly listed Waste Management, also as CFO.

    “We are thrilled to attract such an outstanding executive to join our rapidly growing business,” said Brigstocke. “Ken is clearly an impact player with an exemplary track record of leading large state-owned and publicly successful businesses.”

    “Ken’s finance, reporting, governance and M&A skills will be invaluable as
    OPUS continues to expand and secures a market leading position as the region’s most successful specialty printer, with annual revenues approaching $100 million.

    “Having Ken based in Auckland will add depth to our plans to build on our local position given the clear rebound of the economy and our already substantial Australian presence.”

  • Letters, feedback, get it off your chest: 13 January 2010

    Phoenix risings set some readers alight with indignation.

     

    Re: Industry turns up heat on pheonix risings

    Thankfully I am out of the industry these days, but I have to say that when creditors are prepared to accept a minority payout when a company goes belly up, instead of pursuing the scoundrels through to bankruptcy, they are only providing encouragement for them to do it again.

    One particular culprit comes to mind … she runs a printing company at Brookvale. I am told that and her creditors accepted 10c in the $ and then she just kept on in business. I wasn’t affected fortunately, as I had previously taken this operator to court and won, about a year before it all fell in a heap.

    If paper companies are so desperate that they are prepared to take such losses and continue doing business with the same scoundrels then you have to ask yourself, is the pain not partly self-inflicted?

    There is a saying … "If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas." A "Name and Shame" website would be one way to deter such operators and provide some protection for other suppliers. But it requires the assistance of Government so that no one is unfairly defamed and those who are named are not able to sue for damages.

    There are also reforms required with regard to the operation of liquidators who simply shuffle paperwork until all the remaining funds have been exhausted and the creditors end up getting nothing. These firms, in my view, are just as crooked as the defaulters.
    Regards,
    Steve de Vroom
    Amazing Faces

    ————–

    It’s about time that these phoenix rising stars are brought back to earth and are made accountable for the debts that they inccur with no intention to pay.
    They appear to go round and round with total immunity and contempt.
    Geoff Boyton
    Litho Electronics
    Sydney

  • Industry turns up heat on phoenix risings

    Notorious industry practice of absconding owners starting up under a new name while leaving suppliers and employees holding the bag is drawing government fire.

    A Federal Government campaign to stamp out the practice of phoenixing in order to protect creditors and workers from unscrupulous operators is receiving support from the industry association. Printing Industries CEO, Philip Andersen, said a number of printing industry companies had fallen victim to phoenix activity in the past and unless the Federal Government implemented corrective action, more companies would be victims in the future.

    The practice of phoenixing in the printing industry typically happens when an owner or a group of owners run up massive debts before selling the business to an associated entity, leaving the debts to a shell that is subsequently liquidated. A number of infamous cases in the printing industry over the years have drawn lots of attention but under the current law there is little that can be done about it.

    Paper companies are particularly exercised by the phenomenon, as they are usually the ones left holding the largest debt.

    The Federal Government’s Proposals Paper is examining the kind of actions that can be taken against fraudulent phoenix activity. Although it focuses mainly on the labour hire industry, there is ample scope for the printing industry to make its views known.

    “I encourage all industry members with views and proposals to forward them to our National Manager for Policy and Government Affairs, Hagop Tchamkertenian," said Philip Andersen.

    Tchamkertenian said that whilst the Proposals Paper focuses on fraudulent phoenix activities and their impact on tax revenue and employee entitlements, the opportunity existed to cite other impacts, such as non-payments, arising from firm-to-firm supplies.

    Printing Industries has spoken to the Treasury people responsible for the Proposals Paper and highlighted the importance of considering other impacts as well," he said.

    ”The feedback was positive. The Government is interested in hearing about other impacts. This will allow our members to present their views and recommendations for action directly to the Government via our co-ordinated industry response.

    Members with examples of past or current fraudulent phoenix activity as well as those with proposals and suggestions should forward them hagop@printnet.com.au or contact Hagop directly on 0414 953 271.
    The Proposals Paper can be downloaded via the following link: action against fraudulent phoenix activity.
    Comments to Printing Industries should be provided by close of business Wednesday 13 January 2010

  • Granite press is on a roll

    Two ECS 340 label presses are bound for Australia as Gallus sells 20 of the granite-based presses in less than 3 months.

    “This press will change the way people do labels, “ said James Rodden, managing director, Gallus Australia. “It is designed to cater for the commodity label market. So far the results have been sensational.”

    The press has been such a success that the German manufacturing plant is fully booked through to the 2nd quarter of 2010.
    The first Australian ECS 340 will be installed at a local label converter in April, while the second machine will be available for a Gallus Open House in Melbourne. The press is the company’s entry into the huge commodity label market. It attracts a much lower price point for a Gallus machine, yet still has full servo control and sleeve technology.

    One of the attractions of the model is waste savings with an 11-metre web from unwind to rewind on an eight colour. This can be compared with up to 40 metres in the machine on some other presses. As substrate cost can account for up to 50% of a label’s cost, this is an important saving.
    Gallus has positioned the ECS 340 at below AUD$650,000 for a seven colour machine. At this rate a confident Rodden maintains, “there will many be more in Australia.”

  • 15-month recession takes toll – PrintNZ Industry Report

    Printing provides sole bright spot in outlook for 2010 with growth set to recover to 2.7 percent.

    The overall printing and allied trades in New Zealand, which includes such sectors as paper, publishing and paper and book wholesaling is facing a continuing contraction of over 5% in the year ahead. Printing suffered a drop of 6% during 2009 but is predicted to recover quicker than most other sectors.

    According to the authoritative PrintNZ Industry Report the protracted recession began in 2007/2008 summer due to a drought and soaring oil prices. As these began to fade the global financial crisis added its weight.

    Overall NZ has weathered the downturn very well, according to the Report. While unemployment has climbed to 6% it is well below the 9.7% rate of the US.

    But it has been a tough time. Staff numbers in the industry dropped, most notably for large businesses, with a 14% average decline for businesses with more than 100 staff.
    Many printers cut back the number of shifts with less than half the number of companies in 2008 still working three shifts. The 40-hour single shift operation remains the main working pattern. Overtime figures are down dramatically with fewer companies paying penalty rates for extra hours.

    According to Joan Grace the Report reminds that the majority of printing business are small to medium size. 77% are owner operated with the owner getting an estimated $60,000 remuneration.
    She believes the industry has weathered the recession fairly well with those who have the business fundamentals in place doing better, no matter their size.

    Just over half of the respondents to the Survey expect their businesses to grow in the next 12 months, although only 17% expect the industry to grow during that period. Overall there were 26 less printing businesses operating in NZ at the end of the year

  • Heidelberg brings KAMA to Australia

    German equipment manufacturer, KAMA GmbH, makes its way to Australia and New Zealand in deal with Heidelberg.

    The move sees the Dresden-based manufacturer’s finishing cutters and folder-gluers distributed across a fifth continent for the first time. The first ProCut 74 finishing die cutter including a hot foil stamping module and a ProFold 74 for folding, gluing and add-on processes will be making their way to Sydney and Melbourne at the start of 2010.

    Andy Jensen, managing director of Heidelberg Australia New Zealand sees the KAMA range as complementary to the company. “The KAMA machines and their wide range of applications for A2 and A3 print finishing fit perfectly into our sales portfolio,” he said.

    According to Marcus Tralau, managing director at KAMA, the decision to enter the Australian market was a result of success in Japan 2008. “After entering the Japanese market last year, we are using this new cooperation to expand our involvement in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. Tralau believes that the region has been less severely affected by the global crisis than Europe and America.

    “Many printers in the Australasian region see the expansion of their post-press and finishing activities as a chance to use high-end services to increase in-house added value, enhance their profile and stabilise their market position,” he said.

    The deal comes hot on the heels of Heidelberg’s recent announcement that it is now the exclusive distributor of Kodak consumables, workflow solutions and CtP equipment into the commercial sheetfed market and reflects Heidelberg’s local evolution into a complete graphic arts solution provider.

  • The Last Supper – Looking forward to the new normal

    Sober reflections on the state of the industry as Heidelberg moves out of its 20-year Sydney showroom for new premises in Lidcombe. Patrick Howard reports on the long afternoon farewell.

    There will be little significant improvement in capital investment in the local industry until at last 2011, according to Andy Vels Jensen, CEO, Heidelberg Australia and NZ (HAN). At a defiantly upbeat gathering of the company’s major Sydney clients in the old Waterloo showroom, he forecast that in the years ahead we are all going to have to get used to a new definition of normality.

    “It’s been a tough year and for my part I’m glad to see the back of it. I believe we at Heidelberg both here and in head office have had to become better and smarter at what we do. And I’m confident we’ve done that,’ he said.
    The global financial crisis has put an end to the boom in printing capital equipment in Australia and NZ. Over the past eight years HAN installed 2,300 Speedmaster printing units, an average of 280+ per year. This was by far the lion’s share of the market – according to the ABS only 3,500 came into the country during the period. But that was then and this is now and Vels Jensen predicts the ‘new normal,’ when it arrives, will be 15 to 20% less than that.

    During the same good times there were 510 Stahl folders, 180 CTP engines and 60 stitchers installed. These sectors have not suffered quite the same downturn as presses with some investment still going on.

    Consumables is good business

    In the light of the new realities Vels Jensen is grateful to the HAN customers who have signed on for the company’s service and consumables contracts. HAN is the world leader for Heidelberg in the amount of service it has under contract, while its consumables business has grown 350% in recent times.
    [This is set to rise dramatically with the announcement of HAN’s exclusive Kodak agency.]
    In the face of the present tough conditions HAN has mostly maintained its service numbers, still fielding over 160 engineers. Cost savings of $9million will become completely effective next year.

    The same the whole world over

    In a typically wide-ranging survey Vels Jensen filled in the Heidelberg world picture. For HAN the Southern region is showing signs of life, making 85% of target for the full year, easily outperforming its Northern counterpart and certainly New Zealand.

    In a telling statistic he said that every third press of any size that rolls off the Heidelberg production lines is now destined for China. The USA printing capital market is a real challenge, along with the rest of the economy, while Canada and South America are tracking on target; Europe is 15 to 20% down while HAN is tracking with the UK around 12-13% below target. Japan is also down.

    Addressing the almost by now perennial question of the Heidelberg, manroland merger, he pointed out that Heidelberg as a public company is more constrained in placing its interpretation of events before the public. However he drew attention to the German business media where the matter is still very much alive.

    “When people ask me, my answer is that officially it’s off,” said Vels Jensen.
    Unlike the possible re-entry of HAN into digital printing sales and service, but that is another story for another time.

    Meanwhile, welcome to the future – the ‘new normal.’

  • Confident GEON gains contracts in improving market

    Financial backers step up for the region’s largest sheetfed printer following major restructure and integration.

    Graham Morgan, CEO of GEON Group said there were “encouraging signs that the business environment is improving and we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for calendar year 2010, supported by a number of significant new contracts.”

    He said the Group had secured strong refinancing and completed its restructuring and integration phase, positioning the company for a return to more stable business conditions and a period of sustained growth over the next 12-18 months.


    It comes after a tumultuous few years for the private-equity backed company when it grew at an astonishing pace through the takeover and subsequent consolidation of a significant number of printing companies. Gresham PE as major backer has sustained a capital intensive process to create the trans-Tasman enterprise, including major capital equipment investment in state of the art printing plants.

    The refinancing of GEON should send a strong message that the industry, as well as the Group, is still deserving of sustained investment.
    “GEON’s banking arrangements have been restructured to ensure the business has appropriate reserves to fund future investment in programmes,” said Morgan. “This investment will drive further advances in customer service over the longer term, allowing GEON to fulfil its potential of delivering world class, fully integrated, print and communication solutions for our clients.”

    GEON now has annual turnover of around A$300 million and employs more than 1250 people at 25 locations throughout Australia and New Zealand. It positions itself as a leading business in the market with a full suite of integrated print and communication solutions including creative design, data management, direct marketing, digital media, online solutions, print, mail and warehousing and fulfilment.

    “We have revolutionised the way we interact with customers through the development and implementation of GEONline, our proprietary on-line print management system,” said Morgan.

    “GEON will continue to work closely with the print and communications community, our strategic partners within it, and its various associations, to ensure we have a successful and thriving industry, creating growth and employment for many years to come.”

  • DES extends X-Rite trade-in deal

    In true Christmas spirit and popular demand, DES has extended the X-Rite Trade in offer until 15 January 2010.

    This is a rare opportunity to upgrade your X-Rite densitometers, plate readers and spectrophotometers to a new device, and ensure that you continue to measure accurate colour every time.

    A significant benefit of upgrading is that current X-Rite products all meet ISO 9001:2000 certification. Those who upgrade will enjoy the greater functionality of a new device, while extracting some value from older, discontinued devices. Buyers of a new 500 series Densitometer will also have the added benefit of a three-year warranty.

    On top of the generous discounts on offer, if you get an order in by the end of the year, you can take advantage of the government investment allowance rebate of up to 50%.
    Eye-One Spectrophotometer

    DESCRIPTION RETAIL PRICE DISCOUNT BUY PRICE
    il Basic RRP $1,878 SAVE $478 $1,400
    il Xtreme RRP $3,148 SAVE $677 $2,471

    500 Series Spectrodensitometer

    DESCRIPTION RETAIL PRICE DISCOUNT BUY PRICE
    508 Densitometer RRP $5,018 SAVE $600 $4,418
    518 Densitometer RRP $6,050 SAVE $750 $5,300
    528 Densitometer RRP $9,113 SAVE $1,000 $8,113
    530 Densitometer RRP $14,139 SAVE $1,600 $12,539

    Plate Reader

    DESCRIPTION RETAIL PRICE DISCOUNT BUY PRICE
    iCPlate2 X RRP $5,068 SAVE $773 $4,295
    iCPate2 XT RRP $7,607 SAVE $1,112 $6,495
    PlateScope RRP $9,638 SAVE $1,443 $8,195

    All prices are ex GST.

    See here for a list of X-rite products for which support has been discontinued.

  • SWUG conference heads for the bush

    The Single Width Users Group (SWUG) is tuning up for its annual hoedown next year at the home of country music, Tamworth.

    The northern NSW town of Tamworth now has two major events on its calendar for next year: hard on the heels of the world famous Country Music Festival, it will also host the ever-popular Single Width Users Group (SWUG) conference for newspaper production staff.

    The conference will begin on Friday, 19th March 2010, with the traditional welcoming event and conclude with the SWUG Awards gala presentation on the evening of Sunday, 21st March. There will be no Monday morning conference sessions as in previous years.

    The conference sessions will be held at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre, a modern entertainment complex which each year hosts the ‘Oscars’ of country music, the Golden Guitar awards. The annual SWUG dinner will be held in the historic surroundings of Tamworth Town Hall.

    “As you might expect from a town that hosts a major music festival each year, the conference facilities and accommodation at Tamworth are first-class,” said Bob Lockley, (pictured) SWUG president. “This will be a great venue for our conference and I would encourage everybody to get in early with their registration and accommodation bookings. It is sure to be a very informative and highly entertaining weekend, with several overseas guest speakers lined up.”

    The host print site this year is the Fairfax Media Regional Print facility that houses a six tower Goss Community pressline. This press is sure to be of interest to delegates having been installed just last year as the result of a unique project which saw reconditioned units from various sites around Australia combined at the one location. The flagship publication produced at the site is the Northern Daily Leader, a six-day-a-week local newspaper with a circulation of over 13,000 copies.

    Conference registration packs as well as details about the annual SWUG Awards will be available by the end of the year.

    For more information, contact Anita White at Fairfax Media on (02) 4570 4444 or email anita.white@fairfaxmedia.com.au

  • Letters, feedback, get it off your chest: 16 December 2009

    IPMG talks back to last week’s story, while the Heidleberg/Kodak deal gets one reader thinking about the future.

    Re: IPMG gravure plant firm favourite for Warwick Farm

    The article in Print21 today was published without any reference to anyone at IPMG and seemed to rely solely on an article in The Australian earlier this week.

    This article was a result of IPMG recently lodging its Statutory Accounts for the 2009 financial year with ASIC.

    The accounts relate to the printing, digital media, distribution, merchandising and publishing businesses, and include the results of the BlueFreeway Group of Companies from the date that IPMG took effective control in November 2008. The results of the Properties business are not included in IPMG.

    Whilst the headline “loss” number in the accounts is significant it is important to note the following:

    * Although significantly affected by the economic slow-down associated with the Global Financial Crisis, IPMG has traded to expectation during the year.
    * There was positive net cash generated from operating activities during the year.
    * IPMG has an exceptionally strong balance sheet with a large net asset position and extremely low gearing.
    * The trading performance November year-to-date FY10 is in line with budgets.
    * Senior management is confident that IPMG is in a strong position to take full advantage of the changing media and advertising landscape, and the improvement in the economy.

    The net accounting loss reported in the accounts includes a number of non-recurring and predominantly non-cash accounting adjustments. The major adjustments to the positive trading result include the write-down of goodwill, impairment of land and building values, recognition of potential interest relating to deferred settlement obligations at BlueFreeway and various other non-trading, non-recurring items.

    Whilst the reported results for the 2009 financial year were a disappointment, the Shareholders are comfortable with the underlying strength of the IPMG businesses, and are confident that the Group is well-placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves over the foreseeable future.

    Stephen Anstice
    IPMG

    ***********

    Re: Kodak master deal to transform Heidelberg

    What a strange deal this is and to whose benefit? For Kodak, they will have a short-term gain by capturing some excess plate business and cutting staff at some point (why would you need the same number of sales people etc?) Long term it is a potential disaster for Kodak, if Heidelberg have dropped Agfa in the Saphira box then what’s to stop the same happening 18 months from now to Kodak to a cheaper or better product? Suddenly Kodak would have lost its user base and connection to the end user and Heidelberg can substitute whatever is in the box (that’s why they insist on their own brand). As for equipment, how on earth can Heidelberg approach a customer and not try and sell them Print Ready over Prinergy, let alone how to decide on which CTP? Heidelberg now control the sales cycle and can act without a competitor from Kodak. Let’s be realistic, would Heidelberg really want to sell Prinergy over Print Ready – it just wouldn’t make sense.

    It appears that this partnership is born out of desperation and short-term thinking on both sides – kit will be interesting to fast forward 12 months and see Kodak’s reduced equipment sales and slight increased yet highly vulnerable plate business. It also appears strange that this would only happen in one country and not in other areas; it looks like a sunset effort rather than a company strategy.

    Freddy Unsworth

  • Ipex 2010 – great Australia New Zealand BBQ is on again!

    Good news for all those planning a visit to IPEX 2010, 18-25 May in Birmingham, UK. Print21 together with industry identity and columnist Andy McCourt are organising another night of good old Aussie-Kiwi hospitality at a fine English pub.

    In fact, for the first time in five Ipex BBQs, we are returning to the recently refurbished Newbold Comyn Arms, Leamington Spa. Many readers will remember the great night there at Ipex 1998.

    Our last Ipex Barbie at the Blue Boar Inn, Alcester, was a packed affair and maybe a little too far into the country from the NEC. Leamington Spa is close to the Ipex action and the Newbold Comyn Arms can cater for up to 200 people. Many ANZ visitors actually stay in Leamington Spa or in nearby Warwick.

    As usual, there will be music and entertainment and coaches laid on to major hotel towns. All this is made possible with the generous support of industry supplier sponsors, several of whom have already committed to the 2010 event.

    Full details will be released shortly  but if you want to get your name down for a ticket in advance, drop an email to heidi@print21.com.au .

    Oh, and does anyone have photos from previous Ipex BBQs, starting with the one at the Washford Mill in 1993? We’d love to run a walk down memory lane!

    Pictured: the delightful 1780s-built Newbold Comyn Arms has been refurbished and awaits ANZ Ipex delegates!

  • Victorian printers give green thumbs up to SGP3

    Three more printing businesses have moved into greener pastures with the successful completion of SGP.

    Melbourne’s Pageset, Bambra Press and Galaxy Design have achieved Sustainable Green Print Level 3 status, which is in line with the demands of full ISO 14001 accreditation.

    Matt Baker, director of Galaxy Design, said that getting involved in SGP this year was a result of the company’s ongoing environmental initiatives. “When we heard about SGP we thought it was a good idea to get on board as it promoted more EMS systems in the printing industry,” he said.

    Galaxy Design had already achieved ISO 14001 accreditation, and when it had an external audit in November this year, was also granted SGP3. Baker admitted that: “Because we had already been through something similar to SGP it was easier for us than perhaps for a company that may just be starting out.”
    Pictured: Galaxy Design’s Matt Baker and Lexia Elsum.


    Operations manager of Galaxy Design, Lexia Elsum, encouraged other businesses to get involved. “I think it’s very important for the printing industry to look at sustainable options,” she said.

    According to Printing Industries, many more Victorian and Tasmanian printers and graphic designers have completed their Sustainable Green Print training and are busy preparing themselves for their formal audits soon. Dates for new SGP training courses for early 2010 will be announced shortly.

  • Centrum Printing gets truly green

    Truly Green certification kick starts Centrum Printing’s environmental push.

    The Sydney-based printer, specialising in publication and journal work, hopes to expand its client base significantly after receiving Truly Green certification from GASAA last week.

    “We believe this to be a positive step forward in providing a sustainable and responsible print operation. Centrum Printing has recognised that the demand for environmentally sound practices has increased over the years,” said general manager, Sandra Mascaro.

    “We want to be at the forefront of the important environmental aspect particularly as we face the prospect of global warming and limited natural resources. We are proud of our current achievement and would like to thank our wonderful team for their contributions.”

    Pictured: the team at Centrum Printing with their Truly Green certification.


    Next on the list is FSC and ISO 14001 certification, which Mascaro aims to complete early next year. She believes that the greater a printing company’s environmental compliance is, the more appealing it will be to print buyers.

    “We hope this will open a lot more doors with government work,” she said. “A lot of clients are very environmentally conscious and want to print with companies that have these type of programs in place.”

  • Taking the tide at the flood – commentary by Patrick Howard

    As the year draws to a close, Print21 publisher, Patrick Howard, looks back on some of the big events that took place in the printing industry during 2009.

    This year was one of massive change and challenges. Crisis is in the air; men, businesses, banks and even sovereign states have gone to the wall. Trillions of dollars have evaporated, never to be seen again. The destruction of wealth is on an unprecedented scale. There can be no business as usual in the face of such dire portents and warning.

    In the industry, the rollcall of printing businesses that have gone down this year is relentless. Here at Print21 magazine www.print21online.com we made a decision not to report every time a printing business went bust, when someone pulled down the roller shutter and walked away from a lifetime’s work. Some hung in and walked away on their own terms. Reg Hammond, founder of Lilyfield did well selling to German packager, STI. Tom Szabo of Greenloch, was not so lucky and stood by while David Fuller of Focus picked up the pieces.

    In Melbourne disgruntled creditors, led by John Della, Pageset, cried foul over the way the energi print business was sold but Frank Tedesco’s PrintLinx already had the money in the bank. There will never be agreement on events such as this and the liquidator is still to make a decision. One party moved early and gained an advantage; others perhaps extended too much credit. 

    Companies big and small slashed their workforce, downsizing, rightsizing, redeploying, reallocating resources … any number of euphemisms to describe getting the sack. Notably McMillan Printing disappeared into Blue Star with a tragic number of job losses. No one likes to do this but for companies with shrinking order books it is imperative to move fast to cut costs. Put off making the hard decisions for too long and it may well cost everyone their jobs.

    I do believe there is no class of bastards who take joy at seeing men and women thrown out of work. Owners and managers are loath to terminate workers, no matter how it may look from the perspective of the recently unemployed on the street.

    And let’s not forget that there are always winners as well as losers. One man’s lost job is another’s double shift; the failed tender that blows one printer’s overdraft provides the winner with a golden opportunity to buy a new press. Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time; mostly it’s being ready to take up opportunities all the time.

    PacPrint in May may not have been the best timing for an exhibition and undoubtedly many suppliers would have pulled out – if they could. But it was respectable enough show and the suppliers stepped up and put on a brave face. Once again the industry proved resilient.

    Even as the PE funds closed their wallets and new press orders became few and far between, some new money still found its way into the industry notably with the emergence of Opus Print Group. Some players seem impervious to the passage of time with ACP finishing another year still threatening to build its own greenfield web site in Sydney. Meanwhile work on IPMG’s gravure site at Warwick Farm seems to have ground to a halt.

    On the supply side the mooted merger of Heidelberg and manroland has once again proven to be a step too far for the Germans. It may seem to be about time to cut the losses for shareholder and financier Allianz, but there are many deep-seated rivalries and historical feuds between the traditional press makers. You wonder if the timing will ever be right for such a merger.

    Ironically the Japanese and the Dutch appear to be better able to get together than any of the three German press provincials.

    Canon’s takeover of Océ proves again the digital sector is better at adapting to the realities of the market. And what great timing! It took everyone by surprise, including the London-based hedge funds. If the takeover goes ahead, as seems likely, we have a new industry equipment supply leader when 2010 rolls around.

    At which time we’ll still be here, doing what we do best … bringing you the latest news online at www.print21onlne.com and the best graphic arts business insights and information in the industry’s favourite management magazine, Print21.

    It’s been a tough year, with all the more reason to take advantage of a well-deserved time out over the break.  So, from all of us at Print21, we wish you a Merry Christmas and renewed prosperity in the brave New Year.

  • Posties launch stamp boycott

    Posties have vowed to deliver unstamped mail from today until Christmas Eve, protesting Australia Post’s refusal to meet demands for improved job security, better workplace safety and protection of take home pay.

    “On Monday Australia Post employees will allow unstamped letters through – instead of returning them to sender,” said Ed Husic, National President of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union.

    However Australia Post representatives warned consumers not to bank on the free postage, because less than a quarter of workers are taking part.

    “Only 8876 staff voted for industrial action out of 17,970 union members and 35,000 staff. This isn’t even half of the union membership and represents only a small minority of our total staff,” said Alex Twomey, Australia Post’s spokesperson.

    “Our message to the public is clear; only mail with correct postage will be delivered.”

    The Union leadership has admitted that there may be some postal disruptions as a result of the action.

    The industrial action comes on the heels of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) rejection of Australia Post’s draft proposal to increase the basic stamp price from 55c to 60c.

    Australia Post put its draft proposal to the ACCC in July, seeking to increase the prices of a number of its Small, Large and PreSort letter services, as well as the standard stamp. It argued that a decline in demand for letter services between 2007-08 and 2008-09, as well as rapid growth in areas like western Sydney and south-east Melbourne created significant cost pressures.

    However the ACCC was not convinced, saying that they were unable to determine how Australia Post’s demand forecasts were derived.

    Australia Post said it was “surprised and extremely disappointed” by the ACCC’s decision.

  • Graphic arts graduates leave paper trail with Oce CS 665 Pro

    RMIT’s graphic design students show off their best digital work at graduation exhibition.

    The exhibition, held at Brunswick Town Hall in Melbourne, also coincided with the announcement of the high achieving students. This year’s winning students are Caitlin Caldwell, awarded the Gold Folio, Kayla Cassar, awarded the Silver Folio and Emma Shaw, who took out the Most Professional Student award.

    Océ assisted the students prepare their portfolios in preparation for the graduation exhibition, under the banner ‘Looks Good on Paper!’, on their Océ CS 665 Pro digital colour system using specialist Océ media.

    Pictured: (l-r) Damian Schaller of Océ; Kayla Cassar; Emma Shaw; RMIT’s Meredith Chesney; Emma Shaw and Océ’s Andy Cocker.


    According to Meredith Chesney, graphics educator, it is important for students that the highest standards of digital printing are used to print their design portfolios.

    “This opportunity, provided by Océ, enabled the students to create and design the final art and then make sure it was printed the way they wanted it on correct media, completing the cycle,” she said.

    “The students found it a terrific experience and, equally importantly, they were encouraged to work together in developing the work, which reinforced the teamwork ethic they will find in the workplace.”