Archive for September, 2012

  • Fujifilm – Wide Format Printing

    Printers wanting to tap into the rapidly growing and profitable wide format sector should get moving to secure their place in the industry and avoid getting squeezed out as others join the race to go wide, according to a white paper published by Fujifilm.

    The new white paper, How to make money from wide format printing – A Better Business guide, highlights how the wide format sector is not only one of the fastest growing sectors in the local and global printing industry, but is also one of the few areas that has been able to maintain very healthy margins.

    With continuing advances in wide format press and consumables technology, the product scope for wide format players is increasing while its point-of-entry costs are diminishing, the report suggests.

    With online and mobile devices capturing more of the marketing dollars out there and newspaper circulation waning, a lot of printed marketing and advertising material is being shifted to media such as outdoor banners, posters, point-of-sale and wraps – all which lie in the wide format production realm.

    Fujifilm, one of the global industry’s biggest wide format equipment manufacturers, has been able to take a snap shot of the inside of the industry for the new white paper, and is urging those wishing to expand their business, product offering and profit margins by getting into the wide format game to move quickly, as the shift to wide format is fast becoming an industry-wide phenomenon.

    “Early adopters among the litho community have already ventured into wide format print,” the report says. “A recent industry-wide survey found nearly two-thirds of respondents already had some wide format capability, which on average generated 10-20 per cent of their sales. Over time, the cost of entry may not fall – manufacturers tend to hold prices and increase the performance of new models.

    “The key lesson from the screen industry was that waiting for the right moment was wrong. The perfect machine, like Godot, never comes. Wide format is flexible, profitable and growing. Not only is that desirable in itself, but also reputations stand to be built – latecomers may be squeezed out. Fujifilm is encouraging offset litho printers to take seriously the opportunities presented by wide format, in addition to suggesting other business-building initiatives,” it says.

    It is no surprise that the industry is seeing a shift to wide format, with the sector being one of only a handful of areas within the printing industry that is experiencing rapid growth and expanding profit margins.

    “Wide format print offers bigger margins to the producers. At a time when offset margins languish in single figures, wide format opens up a world in which value exerts a stronger pull,” the report says. “Advances in technology allow wide format companies to offer a broader range of print and enjoy increasing revenues.”

    Unlike most offset print and a large proportion of digital print, lowest price is often not a primary consideration for a wide format customer. The end product and what it can achieve is generally more important.

    “One Fujifilm customer, for example, with a reputation for printing on textiles, especially carpet, was approached to produce and fit a 1681 square metre Monopoly board design on carpet for an exhibition, the report says. “Price was not the main consideration – getting it fitted in time and being able to take it to other venues were more important.”

    Not only does wide format production offer a printer a broad range of product offering, healthy margins and an expanding customer-base, the sector also has a remarkably affordable point-of-entry cost when compared to the offset or digital commercial sectors, where press prices can run from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions.

    “Most firms focus on the start-up costs or cost of entry. If so, wide format machine costs should be a pleasant surprise: inkjet printers range from the sort of prices litho presses command all the way down to models suitable for a one-man shop,” says the report.

    Fujifilm – which has several wide format printing presses to its name, including the Onset S20 and new Onset S40i, the Uvistar and the Acuity series, among others – has looked closely at its existing worldwide customer base to draw out some of the fundamental lessons laid out in the white paper.

    The company even included some of its wide format equipment customers’ comments in relation to making the most of the medium.

    “Forget about running inkjet presses for five or ten years. You will be looking to upgrade your printers or get more machines in two to three years,” one customer wrote.

    “The investment in wide format inkjet is nowhere near a litho press and digital is straightforward to get finance on,” said another. A third said, “we initially targeted retailers hit by the recession who wanted to advertise their way out of it. A lot of our work was outdoor and banner.”

    This feedback helps reinforce and inform the central thrust of Fujifilm’s white paper – that wide format is a way forward for printers looking to increase their margins and maintain a profitable business, but that no time should be wasted in making the leap to the wide side.

    To download a copy of the Fujifilm How to Make Money from Wide Format Printing – Better Business Guide, visit and click the download tab on the Fujifilm Graphic Systems homepage.

  • ACT Manufacturing hit by funding cuts – PIAA

    The Federal Government’s supposed commitment to the manufacturing Industry is coming under the spotlight with the announcement this week of a five per cent reduction in print spending under budget cuts announced by Penny Wong, Minister for Finance and Deregulation.

    In response to the budget cut, Printing Industries is writing to the Government outlining the likely impact of the proposed changes on the industry. The association will also seek to have the Printing Industry Ministerial Working Group used as a vehicle to monitor decisions relating to any cuts.

    Bll Healey (pictured), Printing Industries CEO, says the industry believed that today’s announcement merely continued the past practice of Government’s targeting easy areas when it needed to reduce expenditure. 

    “While government dollars may need to be saved, greater effort is now required for it to be done in a way that does not inject further pain on struggling small business operators,” says Healey.

    According to Healey, printing, like most other areas of the manufacturing industry, is facing enormous challenges as it deals with a high Australian dollar, shrinking margins and increased competition through the emergence of a multi-channel communication world. He says that there appeared to be a disconnect between today’s announcement and the Government’s long-term support for local business.

    “It remains unclear how the figure was determined and where the cuts will be focussed,” he says. “However it is estimated that a significant proportion of the $6 million in cuts will be borne by printers in Canberra based on the high level of work they do for Commonwealth Agencies.”

    Healey also says that initial estimates suggested that over 50 full time jobs were at risk in the ACT alone. “The Government needs to understand that print intrinsically remains the preferred communication medium for many Australians,” he says. “If cuts are required then they should be linked to a more holistic review of the broad spend on Government communications rather than a narrow focus on one sector.”

    Printing Industries says it believes the Government could not ignore the environmental costs of moving to greater on-line delivery.

    “People don’t realise that in a multimedia world, print and paper will continue to be the sustainable way to communicate. By contrast some 234 million items of e-waste, a figure rapidly growing, end up in landfill in Australia each year,” says Healey. “Electronic waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal waste stream.”


  • Channel Nine star hosts Victorian PICAs

    Channel Nine television personality, Lauren Phillips, is gearing up to host the Victorian industry’s Printing Industry Craftsmanship Awards Presentation Dinner in November.

    Phillips is best known for presenting in Channel Nine’s popular Victorian travel program, Postcards and Go!, and for her role as fashion and entertainment reporter on A Current Affair. Others may know her from radio, where she filled in for the top rating FOX FM Matt & Jo show, or from her ambassadorial roles for MYER – among other things, as the company’s host for Fashions on the Field, along with her role as an ambassador for Country Racing Victoria.

    “We’re delighted to have been able to secure Lauren to host the night,” says Trevor Hone, PICA Victoria Chairman. “Her knowledge of racing and fashion makes her an ideal choice for this event, which will be an integral part of Melbourne’s Cup Week celebrations for those in the print and graphic communications sector – and, of course, there is no doubt she will add that wonderful mix of professionalism and glamour for which PICA Victoria has become known.”

    Hone says the Victorian industry’s ‘night of nights’ has also become known as one of the most enjoyable opportunities for the industry to celebrate and catch up with friends and is a great excuse for a night out with your partner, another thing PICA Victoria has become famous for.

    “Particularly in challenging times, all of us spend a lot of time either at work, thinking about work or talking about work,” says Hone. “The PICA presentation dinner is a chance for us to bring our partners along to celebrate what we do while saying ‘thanks’ for the support they provide.”

    With its Spring Racing theme, the Dinner – which will be held at Melbourne’s Sofitel on Collins Ballroom – is set to capture all the excitement and fun of the Carnival – while providing the chance for the industry to celebrate excellence.

    “Once again, guests can look forward to a night of gourmet dining and dancing, excellent entertainment, the opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues and friends and, of course, the opportunity to be one of the first to see this year’s PICA winners,” says Hone.

    And for Lauren, the Victorian PICAs will be another exciting event in an “unmissable” week. “I have a passion for travel and have been fortunate to visit many parts of the world,” she says, “but in September, there’s no place I’d rather be than in Melbourne for the best of racing, fashion and celebration – and I am looking forward to making the Awards Dinner a part of this year’s fun and festivities.”

    The event will be held on 9 November at the Sofitel in Melbourne. Tickets for the Dinner will be $145 plus GST. To book for the PICA Victoria Presentation Dinner, visit

  • Safe to join the printing industry – Open letter from James Cryer

    Last week the doors opened a little wider to admit – and even welcome – a new breed to the printing industry. It may be too melodramatic to say that history was made, but nonetheless, it was an historic event. For the first time in the history of our industry, the existence of digital print was acknowledged as a legitimate, vital and now permanent part of the landscape – taking its place alongside offset, not as a poor-relation but as an equal.

    The event was the pre-launch of the Digital Print Resources project, put venerable industry stalwart, Bob Sneddon, under the auspices of the NSW Office of Education and Sydney TAFE. Ricoh also donated resources and the function was kindly hosted by Look Print, at their Leichhardt facility. ((For details,, ).

    This event, modest of itself, ushers in a new era for the printing industry, which has been struggling with a number of challenges of late, not the least of which has been how to attract and retain young entrants into the industry. For too long we’ve presented a predominantly “offset” bias to our training, with our antiquated apprenticeship system anchored somewhere in the 19th century.

    Today the emphasis is on flexible learning, onsite or offsite, tailor-made to the student’s needs and online driven. This new curriculum, just launched, fulfills these criteria – but it does something more important: it gives young kids choices in print.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, offset is here to stay but it’s a “mature” process, not sexy or inviting to the impatient youth of today. Digital functionality with its infinite options, capabilities and endlessly-evolving potential offers a more exciting career choice to the young school-leaver of today. And this course delivers just that!

    While this is not meant to be an anti-offset diatribe, it must be said we’ve clung to offset for too long as the one true path to righteousness and salvation. We’ve regarded it as synonymous with print, to the point it’s crowded-out other optional processes such as flexography, screen-printing and more recently digital printing – both small- and large-format, all of which have been treated as Mickey Mouse processes not to be considered seriously.

    Don’t worry, this is all a perfectly natural evolutionary process that many industries go through: consider aviation and the way it clung onto propellers so to speak and went into denial about the benefits of jet-engines.

    We as an industry are just behaving in a perfectly normal way, delaying change until it’s inevitable – not acting before we have to. Sadly however, we still lag in other areas: we don’t readily admit or encourage membership of digital-print centres into our traditional organisations. We still brand our associations with names like the Litho Institute which seems deliberately designed to scare away young children, women, and virtually all of our digital colleagues. Not a bad achievement! And we’re still the last bastion of male dominated industries.

    But getting back to the launch of this new course. The fact that digital print has now acquired its own dedicated curriculum, reminds us of the diversity of our industry – that it is not one monotheistic bloc, it is a multicultural nation made up of numerous tribes – labels, packaging, mailing, signage, books, magazines – and the list is expanding, not shrinking (as some people would have you believe).

    Our new motto should be strength in diversity!

    And if only we could present this diversity to young school-leavers we’d have one of the most exciting career choices on offer! What other industry offers such a range of experiences and can offer such a range of functional roles – designer, corporate communications, multi-media coordinator, brand-management, direct mailing expert – print can now even “print” three-dimensional objects. What other industry can do that?

    Thank you Bob and all the others that put this package together. Hey kids, it’s now safe to enter through that great portal of the printing industry. Offset is not the only game in town – you now have choices. You now have a career!

    So school-leavers: Why you should consider a career in print –

    We need enterprising and keen young people like you to join our industry.

    Printing is a cleaner/greener, more exciting place to be these days, now that it offers exciting new roles such as digital printing, packaging design, marketing communications, and everything from junior customer service roles to senior account manager business development roles (looking after big companies’ design, print, POS, branding and promotional requirements).

    It also includes roles in signage and display (such as the roll-out of a bank’s new corporate logo and branch signage). And vehicle wrap – did you know all trucks and commercial vehicles are not painted but wrapped in a thin film of printed material?

    Print can also include career opportunities in security printing – don’t forget bank notes are printed. Have you ever thought about how bar-codes work, and how they get on the package? They all have to be printed!

    And as we walk through shopping centres, and visit our bank and go to sporting events and theatres, who prints the tickets, the brochures,  the posters,  the take-away food packaging? We don’t always see the printing but it’s there on the buildings, the bus shelters, on the packaging, the sides of trucks. Printing is everywhere.

    We receive material in the mail – from banks, insurance companies, local businesses, your local council.

    Printing is one of the biggest industries in Australia, but we don’t realise it. Digital printing – including roles in pre-press, printing plus a whole host of technical roles all point to an industry that offers unlimited scope for advancement.

    Printing is everywhere, giving us more options, more choices, more information, more entertainment – and even more knowledge.

    Anything that helpful may be worthwhile considering as a career option. Why not call into a local printing company and explore the wonderful world of print?
    James Cryer


    James Cryer

    282 Victoria Ave,
    Suite 4, 17 Heatherdale Rd,
    Chatswood, NSW 2067
    Ringwood, Vic 3134
    Ph:          02 9904 6222
    Ph:          03 9874 1582
    Mob:        0408 291 508
    Mob:        0413 055 834

    Visit our website at :

  • Issue 546 – 26 September 2012

    This week, PMP hunts for new blood to supply its national platemaking services, calling out for a five-year tender, as it declares a $24.5 million loss for the year; printers descend on Sydney’s Darling Harbour for this week’s Visual Impact and PrintCom shows; and the Department of Defence calls for new print tenders.


    This is your weekly printing news read by over 8,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. If you enjoy this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, for a limited time you can get a free subscription to our print edition here.  We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS

    You can also follow us on Twitter.

  • Making marketing matter more than ever

    If it’s true that everyone in business is – to some extent – engaged in marketing and sales, then attendance at the Masters of Marketing seminar series in October should be compulsory. At a time when technology is in danger of overwhelming and stifling significant communication, the irreverent wisdom of three amigos of marketing is like a breath of fresh air.

    Direct marketing guru and Australia’s leading marketing educator, Malcolm Auld is teaming up with two buddies, the legendary marketer Drayton Bird from the UK (pictured below) and veteran copywriter John Hancock, to deliver a sanity-filled seminar on what matters in marketing – people and content. Putting together better marketing messages, writing better copy and never losing sight of the individual you are trying to impress and inform is a skill that all businesses need. Honing your content will help develop your brand.

    Malcolm Auld has spent a career defining and defending good direct marketing practices in Australia and New Zealand. He defies the current fashion of marketers relying on technology to swamp the market with meaningless messages. A strong defender of the benefits of direct mail as an integral part of any meaningful multi-channel communication, he took the keynote role at the GASAA National Conference 2012 at Darling Harbour.

    In inimitable fashion he debunked numerous digital myths, and showed why businesses who only work in online channels are missing enormous profit opportunities. The Masters of Marketing are in Sydney – 25th October, Four Seasons Hotel and Melbourne – 26th October, Park Hyatt Hotel

    And catch Malcolm Auld is full flight here.






  • 1st official digital print training workbooks launch

    NSW Department of Education & Communities reaches across the Tasman to Creative Family for Kiwi input and design in landmark industry education project.

    Responding to demands for a structured training course for digital printing, the NSW industry training advisory board (ITAB) has produced the first nine modules of a certificate course: ICP20310 Certificate in Printing and Graphic Arts (Digital Printing). A further set of modules will be produced by Innovation and Business Skills (IBSA) in time for next year’s PacPrint.

    The series of workbooks provides the foundation for progressive training in the area of digital printing. On the job training and assessment will give industry workers recognised skills and a defined career path in the digital production environment.

    This is the first time digital operatives can access the same type of training and recognition long enjoyed by offset and other types of professional printers.

    The first workbooks were launched by industry training executive, Max Wilson with Bob Snedden as project manager, last night (Thursday 20th) at David Leach’s wide format premises, Look Print, in Sydney. Wilson said the training resources were “outstanding and we want you [the industry] to have ownership.”

    Kathy Wilson, general manager, Ricoh Australia, commenting on behalf of the company’s input into the project, said the launch came at an appropriate time in the fast changing industry. She evoked the new Ricoh tagline  – Imagine Change – as a description of how the industry was rapidly evolving. “We are transitioning to the communications industry and if we don’t make the change all we’ll be selling is stuff,  which is not interesting and doesn’t make money,” she said.

    Of special note in the congratulations was the work performed by Margaret Fitzgerald of graphic design company, Creative Family of Christchurch (pictured with David Leach, Look Print). Recommended to the project steering committee by Joan Grace, formerly CEO PrintNZ, her company’ work was recognised as setting a benchmark for training resource design.

    The workbooks produced so far are:

    • Set up & produce basic digital print
    • Produce PDF files for online & screen display
    • Manage digital files
    • Troubleshooting digital files
    • Introduction to colour management
    • Use digital workflow
    • Use digital processes
    • Set up & produce specialised digital printing
    • Finish a digital product.

    Printers interested in obtaining copies of the resource can access them

    For further information contact:



  • A Sorrell tale of decline – Andy McCourt

    Print21‘s Andy McCourt highlights why printers need to think seriously about digital, after Sir Martin Sorrell, head of the largest advertising media buyer in the world, spoke at an event in Sydney, suggesting that the biggest shift from traditional print media to digital is yet to come.

    As I was delivering my address to the PANPA faithful in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had noticed the worldwide head of WPP – the largest advertising media buyer in the world ($72 billion) – was delivering a speech in the same convention centre on the topic of marketing in the digital and mobile age.

    Sir Martin Sorrell is a media ‘Madman’ through-and-through. Think Saatchi & Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Grey and clients Unilever, Kellog’s and IBM to name but three.

    3,000 offices in 110 countries employ 162,000 people and generate over $10 billion in revenues.

    And, I was almost on the same bill as him…well a stone’s throw away at least.

    He was addressing media and marketing types at a Global Leadership conflab-endorsed by the Media Federation of Australia. You can see him in action below, courtesy of AdNews.

    So, here’s the message…Sorrell openly stated that the biggest shift from legacy press to digital (and mobile) media is yet to come. Still to come? Tell that to any magazine or newspaper space sales manager and they might tell you it’s already happening. In his wonderfully logical and analytical way, Sir Martin painted a gloomy picture for advertising spends in mainstream print media.

    “There are two major shifts still to come. The two big disconnects are internet and mobile where we know people spend around a third of their time, but our client’s budgets are only 19 per cent,” is what he said, adding that, “Legacy press – newspapers and magazines – are 19 per cent of our budgets worldwide, but consumers spend only nine per cent of their time on them. Those are the two big changes that have to take place.”

    Where did these figures come from? I have no idea but I think we should take heed of Sorrell’s message, and plan accordingly; he’s a big cheese in the media ad-spend world, maybe the biggest.

    I never like to present a problem without at least trying to put forward solutions. The solution to the world’s largest media buyers actively looking for ways to reduce their print media spend is to fragment, mutate and blend in with the digital economy.

    Static media is literally a sitting duck. It can’t measure accurately; it can’t vary the message with pinpoint accuracy, it can’t change on the spot and its attempts to integrate into the digital economy, while laudable and, in some cases superb, have all been based on print being the senior player. It’s time to change that.

    Digital on-demand printing of everything that claims to be media is a must for the survival of newspapers and magazines. Not exclusively – there will be markets for long-runs of both for some time but in order to reinforce the ‘brand’ and stay relevant in a growing digital economy, you need:

    Web-based digital media

    Mobile-based digital media

    Tablet-based digital media

    Print-based digital media


    …in that order.

    Last year, WPP’s biggest single spend was with a ‘traditional’ media group. Next year it will be with Google.

    Think about Sir Martin Sorrell’s main message…and then think whether you can afford to ignore it, follow it or actively change your business to adapt and evolve with it.

    In media, the answer is digital, no matter what the question is.

  • Breaking News – Boon leaves PaperlinX

    Shreholder lobbyist Andrew Price wins his ongoing battle against the PaperlinX leadership as chairman Harry Boon resigns, along with non-executive directors Lyndsey Cattermole and Anthony Clarke.

  • Bye-bye Boon – Price wins PaperlinX leadership struggle

    PaperlinX chairman, Harry Boon, will leave the company on 28 September, along with his supporters, non-executive directors Lyndsey Cattermole and Anthony Clarke, in a boardroom coup that sees shareholder lobbyist, Andrew Price, win his battle against the company’s leadership.

    The company announced today (19 September), that Boon, Cattermole and Clarke have resigned from the board with their departure on 28 September only weeks before the next annual general meeting, scheduled for 31 October.

    The resignation of Boon and his two close boardroom non-executive directors is the final phase in the bitter  leadership struggle that shareholder insurrection leader, Price, instigated earlier this year with an extraordinary general meeting that was held at his bidding in March to decide on Boon’s future as chairman.

    After Boon secured his position as chair at the EGM, the company offered Price a position on the board, which he knocked back. However, in August, Price eventually took his position as a non-executive director on the board, after the company saw the departure of CEO, Toby Marchant, and sold off several of its international loss making paper businesses, moving towards a smaller but more diversified operational structure to combat its continuing poor bottom line financial results.

    The resignations leave only two directors on the board, Andrew Price and Mike McConnell. Sources confirm that replacement directors will be appointed well before the AGM in October.

    According to PaperlinX gadfly, Graham Critchley, convenor of the activist website, PaperlinX Sux, Harry Boon jumped before he was about to be pushed from the board. He says a notice for a 2nd extraordinary general meeting (EGM2) was about to be delivered to the company today.

    Critchley believes the numbers were stacked against the incumbent and he jumped ship rather than face an undignified bunfight at the AGM and EGM2. Presumably the demand for the EGM2 was coming from Andrew Price, who called the first one in March. Since then Price with a seat on the board is on track to become the executive chairman of the company, if he wants to. Price as not available for comment at time of going to press.
    Whether the change of regime will improve the prospects of the hybrid holders getting any money back from their investment is unclear. Undoubtedly the new board will be looking to realise the value of the company along the lines proposed by Andrew Price.

    There is plenty of room to improve with PaperlinX share price continuing its drastic drop to trade at slightly over five cents, half what it was in May.


  • Issue 545 – 19 September 2012

    This week, Former Heidelberg stalwart, Alastair Hadley, re-emerges as new online print buying site COO, and we see Australia’s first Agfa Titan installation and Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106 purchases.


    This is your weekly printing news read by over 8,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. If you enjoy this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, for a limited time you can get a free subscription to our print edition here.  We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS

    You can also follow us on Twitter.

  • Ferag’s entry level inserting line at Swiss press day

    The new automatic inserting line, MiniSert, is primarily aimed at small newspapers but has the potential for serving the new line of digital news publications slated to go in to regional sites later this year.

    The Swiss company reinforced its commitment to developing new technology and its belief in the viability of printing during the media event at its factory in Hinwell outside Zurich last week. A gathering of the world’s graphic arts media saw Ferag bring online two pieces of equipment first shown as concepts at drupa in May.

    In addition to the MiniSert, Ferag also presented its new Unicover40 for inline processing of magazine covers in the form of unfolded sheets coming directly from web offset presses to the gather stitcher. The cover hopper, which was put through it paces at the company’s PMC Print Media user park, runs at twice the speed of conventional solutions.

    According to Jürg Möckli, CEO, bringing newly developed equipment to market is the distinguishing trait of the company. “At Ferag we believe in developing our own equipment, not producing copies of the competition,” he said. “Not many companies are doing this in this market. Innovation is our answer to market conditions; we intend to surprise and astonish the market with new developments. We believe in the printed word.”

    While the MiniSert is targeted mainly at smaller newspapers that have up until now inserted by hand, in the Australian and New Zealand market its main potential will be for the new generation of digital newspaper presses. Although so far none are in operation, suppliers are insisting the first installation is imminent. At 20,000 finished products per hour, the MiniSert may be faster than required but it still represents the best option for automatic insertion at lower speeds.

    Of course, it also represents an excellent entry level for any smaller regional newspapers that are not inserting automatically. It is completely modular in construction and able to be up and running within a week of installation.

    The more conventional Unicover40 has doubled the speed of standard cover hoppers to 40,000 copies per hour. This enables it to be connected directly to the gather-stitcher. By taking unfolded sheets directly from the press it completely eliminates one production process – the separate folding machine.

    With more newspaper plants producing heatset magazines the utility of the Unicover40 cannot be overestimated.




  • Market Watch – Rasmussen’s 10th top tip

    Rasmussen’s 10th Top Tip – Position it to sell.  

    In this the 10th and final Top Tip to consider when selling your business, Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen highlights why vendors need to ‘position it to sell.’

    By positioning it to sell, I mean developing a business and promotional package that is targeted to your potential market. And the market that is most likely to pay the most money.

    So, the first step here is to identify the type/s of buyer that will buy your business –

    1. What is the ideal profile of the buyer?
    2. How many of them are they? Where are they?
    3. How will you make your business attractive to them?
    4. How will they know it’s on the market?


    The Ideal Profile of Buyer

    There have been very few of the 30 or so print related businesses we’ve sold, with the exception of print franchises, where the buyer has been from outside the trade. So ‘within the trade’ there are obviously a number of categories that the business may be suitable for.

    Here, you and your advisor, need to do some research into the different profiles of buyers for your business. Try to group them into categories – i.e. fresh starts, interstate buyers, graphic designers, large A1 printers or internal buyers. Each will have different requirements – some may only want the clients, some want the machinery, personnel, premises and IP as well.

    How many buyers? Where are they?

    Try to also ascertain how many of each profile there are, obviously in many instances your geographic location should be considered as a determinant of how many buyers you may be able to attract.

    Once you have done this, look at which profile is likely to value you business the most. Note, usually the best value you will achieve is with someone who wants all of your business. Those that only want bits and pieces will likely only pay market value for that, but quick disposal value for the rest.

    Making the business attractive to potential buyers.

    This is not about a splash of paint (although in many instances that won’t do any harm). It’s more about putting yourself in their shoes. What do they really want? How can you position it to be attractive to them?

    1. a.     Price and terms

    Although price is obviously very important to them, so are the terms they buy it on. No two deals are ever the same; there is nearly always a difference in the terms. Here is a selection of frequently required terms:

    • Vendor terms – where buyers pay some money up front and then pay the rest over time, either as a fixed price or on client retention. Vendor terms deals have become more frequent of late because on the tight lending policies of the banks
    • Owner to work on – here the owner is contracted to work for the new entity for a period of time. Sometimes this is mandatory. If it’s not offered, the deal may fall over
    • Staff – sometimes staff entitlements are part of the deal
    • Transfer of leases – i.e. on equipment and or on premises
    • Non compete clause – to protect the purchaser’s client bases / business it almost mandatory that the vendor is constrained into where there they can work for a period of time

    Obviously this is a very limited list, but serves only to highlight the need to think of what terms you want to sell the business on. Each profile of buyer you have will likely have a “terms profile”. For example for an “internal sale”, they may need you to work on and they may need vendor terms. For a designer, buying a printer, they need all the equipment, staff, and premises.

    You need to think of what terms you would or would not accept. Remember though, that price is intertwined with terms. One can, and should be, played off against another –i.e. – if they want vendor terms they should pay more. If they want 3 months rent free, they should pay more.

    Obviously price is very important. It’s often the first thing buyers look at when searching for a business. It’s what gets the phone ringing (or not). You obviously want to get the highest price / best terms for your business, but you don’t want to be too overpriced. If you are, your business will stay on the market for a very long period of time.

    Make sure you can support your asking price – it’s not good enough to say, “that’s what my accountant thinks it worth”. You need to justify your price. All too often buyers see businesses that are way out of the market realities. A good example of how out of whack some prices are is when vendors make statements about the market value of their plant – e.g. “the 5-colour Heidelberg 74 has got to be worth $XYZ”. Get the facts before you set the price, otherwise you’ll just get blown out of the water and lose credibility.

    The asking price of the business is of course not only about the value of plant, you need to also establish a goodwill price. This can be a little complex as there are a lot of things to consider including clients – profile and spread, trading history, sales volumes, profitability, GP, trends, premise availability, market, staff, IP, and product range / mix.  There is also what the potential buyer perceives are the risks.

    So, here seek advice from someone who can provide market evidence of what like businesses have sold for and on what terms.

    1. b.     Other considerations.

    Obviously making it attractive to a buyer is not all about price and terms, you need to be able to present something to them that they value. Think here about items such as equipment profile, sales and marketing, product profile, quoting and MIS systems, IP, staff, the ability to run the business under management, your client list’s growth potential and your web site.  Again, some of these will be attractive to some profile groups, but not others, so focus on what’s important to your identified target market.

    Marketing is vital

    So , now you know who the profile of buyer is, what they want in your business, what terms they may require (and you are prepared to offer), and you have established a selling price based on market realities. Now you need to develop an information memorandum on the business and market it in the right place and right manner to attract the right buyer.

    You definitely need to prepare a professional sales document (information memorandum) about the business. Nothing turns off a buyer more than the ad hoc and poor presentation of business documents– get your financials in order and up to date, show that you’re on top of your clients by having impressive client records and systems, show you have a pipeline of business coming through, provide accurate records of machinery and staff. Show you have at least a sales plan and have supporting facts / documents to back up your claims. Put it all in the one document. Tell the story. It’s also important to make sure it is addressed to your target market (in some instances in may pay to have different versions for different target markets). Entice them to take the next step.

    You also want to make the business look as good as possible in a physical sense. Viewing a vibrant, clean work place is far more enticing than seeing a down and dirty, tired printery.  Money spent here is rarely wasted.

    Promoting the business to your target market is also vital. If you’ve done your research properly into whom the target market/s are, the correct promotion choice will drop out easily. Sometimes to protect confidentiality, and perhaps save costs, you’re better selecting just a few potentials first, before advertising.

    ‘Positioning it to sell’ is a vital consideration in the lead up to preparing for a business sale, and throughout the process of the business sale.

    Good luck with planning your transition and business sale. I hope the foregoing Top 10 tips have armed you with a better understanding of the business sales process, and in doing so, provided you with the opportunity to exit more on your terms and for your price.

    Ascent Partners helps vendors prepare transition plans and acts as sales agents to sell printing related businesses around Australia. Contact Richard Rasmussen on 0402 021 101 for a confidential discussion or visit 

  • The winds of change – 12 September 2012

    Reshuffle for Magazine Publishers of Australia

    Magazine Publishers of Australia (MPA) has announced the appointment of Robin Parkes as Executive Director.

    Reporting to the newly-installed MPA chairman, Matthew Stanton (CEO, ACP Magazines), Parkes will work to leverage the members’ individual strengths and work towards a greater market presence and understanding for the magazine industry.

    Parkes is a senior media/marketing executive who recently completed her three-year contract as the inaugural CEO of digital television company, Freeview. Before joining Freeview, she spent four years with the STW communications group in various roles, the last being GM of Ogilvy Action.

    Parkes was jointly appointed by the executive members of MPA, Nick Chan (CEO, Pacific Magazines), Nicole Sheffield (CEO, NewsLifeMedia) and Matthew Stanton (CEO, ACP Magazines).

    “Robin’s appointment signifies a joint commitment to revitalising the MPA which has not had official leadership for the past few years,” says Stanton. “In my new role as Chair, I look forward to working with Robin in developing an enhanced market presence for the MPA and an improved collective message about the robust Australian magazine publishing industry.”

    Parkes says that, “magazines are first-tier media channels with unique benefits for consumers and advertisers. I am also thrilled to be working with three CEOs that have a steadfast commitment to developing and promoting the great brands, people and innovation within the magazine publishing industry.”

    Parkes takes up her role with MPA in mid-September.

  • Issue 544 – 12 September 2012

    This week, industry trainer, CLB, hits back at Printing Industries’ continued criticism of private training organisations, as the association sets up its own training business; Kodak slashes a further 1,000 jobs after making a $299 million quarterly loss, bringing the total to 3,700 jobs gone in 2012; and Print21’s Andy McCourt tells newspaper printers to ‘think small’ in an exclusive video of PANPA Future Forum 2012.


    This is your weekly printing news read by over 8,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. If you enjoy this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, for a limited time you can get a free subscription to our print edition here.  We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS

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  • Canon goes direct to market with Océ in New Zealand

    Integration of the two brands means Konica Minolta will no longer sell Océ products in NZ.

    Canon NZ moves early – before the Australian company – to create a new division for the merged companies to sell and service products to the printing industry. Canon Professional Print will be the vehicle for Canon NZ to deliver Océ products, as well as its own, for graphic arts, display graphic and high-speed printing customers.

    The new division will operate from October 1 under the management of Simon Wheeler, currently Managing Director of Océ in Oceania. He is also Director of the new Canon Professional Print divisions in Australia, which will become operative from January 1 next year, reporting directly to Yusuke Mizoguchi, Canon managing director in both countries.

    In New Zealand the exceptions to the product line-up is the Océ Arizona flatbed, which will continue to be represented by local graphic arts supplier, Aarque Group, and KMNZ customers, whose Océ machines will continue being serviced by the NZ company with Canon’s support. David Klineberg, Canon Australia general manager of Corporate Strategy and communications, says, that the new structure will not be effective until October, and that,”it’s all about us supporting the current arrangements and ensuring customers will receive continuing high standards of customer service.”

    The move is the start of the much-anticipated integration of the two companies since Canon finally closed the takeover of the Dutch-based Océ last year following prolonged negotiations with hedge fund minority shareholders. The creation of the new division is anticipated to give new direction and enthusiasm to the company and consolidate Canon’s position in the front ranks of graphic arts suppliers. It is now the largest manufacturer with the widest range of presses. It is understood the Océ brand will remain in the market for the immediate future, certainly to identify products. However it is likely the Canon brand will be the dominant meme.

    According to Simon Wheeler, the enlarged company will be stronger and better resourced than ever before. “Without doubt Canon and Océ are stronger together; combining complementary R&D, product and customer service capabilities which can only benefit our customers,” says Wheeler. He emphasized that all existing New Zealand Océ customers can rely on continuing service and support.


  • Market Watch – Rasmussen’s 9th Top Tip

    Rasmussen’s 9th Top Tip – Conduct Pre Sale Due Diligence

    In this the 9th Top Tip to consider when selling your business, Richard Rasmussen details the importance of conducting pre-sale due diligence.

    Due diligence is defined as “an inspection of your business records carried out by a potential buyer to ensure the business is viable and the information provided is accurate”.  It’s what happens as part of the sales process.  The amount of due diligence conducted by the purchaser and their advisors differs greatly, so it’s best to be prepared.

    So, you may ask, why is it important for the vendor to do “pre-sale” due diligence, even before the business is put on the market?

    The answer is really about presenting the business in the best possible light, where a potential buyer can hopefully identify no, or minimal “areas of concern” – So, conducting pre-sale due diligence allows the opportunity to rectify any of these potential issues in a timely manner.

    It also, once the issues are rectified, allows the vendor to present a professional sales document that shows the business is worth investing in. Everything is detailed as it should be, it’s factual, and there is no room for misinterpretation.

    By presenting a business in such a way, the potential purchaser, and his advisors have enhanced confidence that the business is well run and they know what they are buying.

    If you put yourself in the purchaser’s position, and they find all sorts of anomalies, misrepresentations and potential issues in the business, how do you think that will affect their perception of value and business quality?  The answer is negatively. Certain issues, disclosed and non-disclosed, can be show stoppers.

    So, listed below are some of the common issues we find in pre sale due diligence:

    • Financials are poorly portrayed and out of date
    • There is unnecessary complexity in the balance sheet
    • Some expenses in the P&L are hard to identify as personal – i.e. cars, phones, computers, overpayment to related parties
    • The depreciation schedule is out of date or incomplete – i.e. cars that were sold years ago appear. The new piece of equipment is not shown
    • Outstanding tax debts
    • There are no options to extend the lease on the building
    • You haven’t registered a trading name
    • OH&S is out of date / non existent
    • Staff position descriptions are not in place / out of date
    • Software may not be all licensed
    • Promotional media, such as the web site is out of date
    • No business plans / budgets / forecasts / sales plans / cash flow projections
    • Complex supplier arrangements, which are hard to undo
    • Contractual disputes with customers, suppliers, and other parties
    • Systems are not in place and or not documented
    • Bad debts reflecting poorly on the business / debtor days are high
    • Suppliers are being strung out
    • Business is too reliant on a few customers, customers show little loyalty
    • Business does not meet safety and or some licensing requirements
    • There are skeletons in the closet – eg. outstanding legal dispute, work cover claim, unidentified loss of a major client

    This is not an exhaustive list, it serves only to highlight some of potential issues that can arise, and that may be able to be addressed prior to putting the business on the market.  The idea is to be able work on / eliminate these to enable the business to be presented in the best possible light, where the buyer sees the business as viable, one where he / she can be confident of being able to take it over and make a success of, or can easily make it fit into their existing business.

    In general terms if you can implement measures to mitigate or eliminate possible risks, you will achieve a better price for the business.

    Again, start early, as some issues will take time to eliminate or make good. If you think this is a recurring theme of the preceding 8 tips, it is. Starting early in the lead up to selling a business is vital. Having the business appraised early will also help identify some of the issues that may occur in due diligence. Many of these potential issues can be addressed, and it’s far better done before the business is placed on the market. It can have a major effect on the selling price, terms, the time it takes to sell, and whether you are actually able to achieve a sale.

    Ascent Partners helps vendors prepare transition plans and acts as sales agents to sell printing related businesses around Australia. Contact Richard Rasmussen on 0402 021 101 for a confidential discussion or visit