Archive for November, 2012

  • Issue 555 – 28 November 2012

    This week sees Australia’s printing industry training sector heat up with newcomer, CLB, going head to head with Printing Industries, which has acquired IPMG’s training arm, Intech Australia. GEON’s top man in New Zealand, Andrew Durrans, leaves the company in management restructure. And, Fuji Xerox’s top printers in Asia Pacific will descend on Melbourne for PacPrint13.


    This is your weekly printing news read by more than 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.

  • Premier Partners to join the punters at PacPrint

    The top echelon of Fuji Xerox digital printers in Asia Pacific will join the thousands of other industry professionals in Melbourne next May for PacPrint 2013. The company’s Premier Partners programme will host visitors from 12 regional countries.

    Up to 150 of the top printers in Asia Pacific will gather at the Crown Metropole on south Bank for two days of presentations from a top flight line up of international speakers. They will be joined by many of the 40 Australian Premier Partners from around the country.

    The gathering is a cornerstone of Fuji Xerox’s industry programme, which also featured a global meting at drupa in May this year. The occasion will see a number of the company’s senior management in attendance.

    The decision to host the Premier Partners at the same time as the industry’s major trade show will allow the visitors to get an appreciation of the state of the Australian industry. It encourages the wider industry to focus on PacPrint as a significant regional printing trade exhibition.

    Among the other events clustered around the show are the National Print Awards as well as the Heidelberg Women in Print and a dedicated Kiwi gathering for New Zealand visitors, all to help encourage a week of industry celebration. In addition there will be the PacPrint Forums, free-to-attend seminars and panel discussions by industry experts and opinion leaders on hot topics relating to the printing and graphic communications industry.

    According to the PacPrint organisers more than 80% of the space at the show is allocated, either booked or reserved. Although very different from previous events they are confident of delivering a good industry show.






  • Paper: not so yesterday – Andy McCourt

    In the era of the ‘paperless’ office, kindles and well-meaning environmentalists demonizing the blank page’s use in day-to-day business, Andy McCourt revisits some of the reasons why it will continue to remain vital to the world at large.

    Responding to stupid and ill-informed statements about the use of paper and printing has become quite passé since the old adage: ‘there is no cure for stupidity’ remains true.

    However, doing a spot of Christmas shopping in a Dick Smith store, I came across the pictured POS display promoting the Kindle: “Who thinks paper is so yesterday? – Dick Does.”

    Oh really? Apart from the sign being printed on paper board, in the next aisle were dozens of inkjet and laser printers and, in pride of place, a tower of reams of A4 paper on special (pictured). Every product in the store used paper in some way to package and promote. Woolworths, Dick’s parent company until recently (it’s now owned by Anchorage Private Equity), could not survive without paper for packaging, signage, labeling, receipts and presumably in the bathrooms too.

    The biological entity Dick Smith, was, and still is, a great supporter of Australian printing. His Australian Geographic magazine, catalogues and, today, his marvelous all-Aussie Dick Smith Foods use sensible and environmentally-sound print and paper. He never would have supported such a stupid headline by the current Dicks.

    If any of those Dicks are reading this, if you care to rise above your state of ignorance, modern managed forests and paper production are more sustainable than the internet and torrents of e-waste. UN research shows Europe has 30 per cent more forested area now than in 1950, North America also has more and the leader in increasing its forest area since 2000 is China at 1.6 percent annually.

    Managed forests lock-in carbon and water and for every tree felled, more than one is planted. One of the end products is paper (the other being timber) and this can be recycled over again – unlike most e-waste. Carbon emissions from internet/computer related use today are almost on par with the airline industry – approaching 400 million tones of CO2 a year.

    Australian printers such as Finsbury Green have greatly reduced water, solvent, VOC, carbon and paper waste over the past decade, to the point where Finsbury will be carbon-neutral by 2015.

    Kindles and other e-readers are fine if they encourage literacy. Like it or not, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ started out as an e-book and has now reached 60 million copies sold in paperback. But for Dick to say paper is so ‘yesterday’ is clearly headed in the wrong direction.

  • PIAA set to launch new industry job service

    Printing Industries’ Australian Apprenticeship Advisor and Mentoring program is set to launch a new job service that matches employers with potential apprentices.

    The service will be available on a new website launched as part of the program.

    The job matching service, which is scheduled to launch in two weeks’ time at the beginning of December, aims to encourage employers to post suitable jobs in the hope of enticing motivated potential apprentices.

    National program manager, Ian Walz, said the website development is part of a strategy that involves social media, plant visits and career and trade expos across the country.

    “We are travelling as far and as wide as we can spreading the good news about an industry that is evolving into an exciting new era and promoting the benefits of engaging in an exciting career through an apprenticeship,” he says. “The website provides ready access to information on industry career paths, how to go about starting a career and how to access the apprentice support provided around the country by our mentors. It will also feature a new ‘live chat’ service for more immediate engagement.

    “This will be supplemented by social media and a more comprehensive website in the new future. Employers are catered for too and can also get information on apprenticeships and the various incentives offered as well as registering their interest in hiring an apprentice,” he says.

    According to Walz, since the program started in August, operating out of all Printing Industries offices around Australia, mentors had represented the industry at apprenticeship, skills and career expos, job and the PrintCom exhibition at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

    “This program is being run in every mainland state and has proven to be very fruitful in identifying the ‘young and not-so-young’ candidates who wish to have an apprenticeship,” he says. “The job matching service will take this a step further by bringing together potential employers and apprentices.”

    Employers are being encouraged to express interest in employing an apprentice and in taking advantage of the free service that Printing Industries will provide.

    “Please contact us either through our website or email,” says Walz.

  • Printers paying too much in wages – Print21 magazine feature

    Recent government statistics outlining the performance of the printing industry compared with other manufacturing sectors show that printers’ labour costs are too high. Printing Industries’ Hagop Tchamkertenian has the details.

    Recently the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released industry data covering a range of macro indicators. Notwithstanding some of the qualifications made about the limitations of macro or aggregated industry data, the ABS data provides some interesting trends. The period covered by the data between the 2006-07 and 2010-11 financial years was significantly influenced by the GFC.

    Industry revenue:

    With a reported revenue reduction of 3.4 per cent, the printing industry is one of six manufacturing sectors that experienced a decline in revenue. Pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing reported an increase of 14.1 per cent. Interestingly sectors that have received government support, such as clothing and footwear, and which continue to receive government support, such as transport equipment manufacturing which includes car manufacturing, experienced a steeper reduction in industry revenue. Total manufacturing industry revenue over the same timeframe increased by a modest 5.2 per cent.

    Employment growth:

    Any industry that is able to provide continued employment will attract attention from various levels of government. Unfortunately only two manufacturing sectors, comprising food products and fabricated metal products, reported increased employment. Employment in the printing industry contracted by 10 per cent during the same period compared to a 12.5 per cent reduction for pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing and 6.9 per cent contraction for total manufacturing.

    Industry value added:

    This indicator measures the contribution that each manufacturing sector makes to the Australian economy. The printing industry along with pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing continued to make positive contributions. At 2.8 per cent growth, the printing industry growth rate is very modest while the paper sector’s growth could be described as displaying the characteristics of a mature industry. Interestingly, total manufacturing’s contribution declined over the same period.

    Industry profit margin before tax:

    The printing sector’s reported profit margin at 8.3 per cent was higher than the 7.2 per cent reported for total manufacturing as well as the 4.9 per cent reported for pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing. At a profit margin of 21.5 per cent, beverages and tobacco product manufacturing reported the highest profit margin amongst the manufacturing sectors.

    Industry expenses as proportion of industry revenue:

    At 91.8 per cent, the printing industry’s total expenses as a percentage of total revenue is just below total manufacturing. On the other hand pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing exceeded total manufacturing and had one of the highest reported expense profiles at 95.9 per cent of total revenue. There is however, one expense category in which the printing industry reported significant inferior performance compared to both total manufacturing as well as all the other sectors of manufacturing, and that was labour costs.

    The ABS data confirms that, of all the manufacturing sectors, the printing industry reported the highest reported wages and salaries and total labour costs component expressed in terms of total industry income/revenue. One possible explanation for this could be that compared to other manufacturing sectors, the printing industry remains less automated and hence more labour intensive.

    In conclusion, between 2006-07 and 2010-11, the printing industry experienced some challenging economic conditions. Revenue and employment levels declined and the industry’s contribution to the Australian economy grew at very modest levels. Printing profit margins remain modest compared to other sectors and could be significantly improved if the industry better managed its labour costs which are amongst the highest of all manufacturing sectors and significantly higher than the total manufacturing sector average.

    For printing operators, the key message from the manufacturing industry benchmarking analysis is the importance of managing labour costs as this expense category is clearly impacting on the bottom line and the overall competitiveness of the print medium.

    To read industry gadfly, James Cryer’s comments on Tchamkertenian’s report, click here.

  • Issue 554 – 21 November 2012

    This week, APN News & Media winds back its New Zealand print business, selling off all of its South Island newspaper operations; Hyde Park Press’s administrator courts potential buyers for the business; Andrew Price heads back to Europe to give PaperlinX’s UK operations the Australian consolidation treatment; and SEMA weighs in on Australia’s increasingly competitive digital mail landscape.


    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.

  • Sterling trumps magazine publishers awards

    Sterling Publishing’s The Adviser has trumped this year’s Publishers Australia Excellence Awards, taking the event’s overall prize, followed closely by Donna Hay, winning three awards.

    Over 400 guests, representing B2B, custom, niche and mass consumer magazine publishers across Australia, attended the 2012 Publishers Australia Excellence Awards gala dinner on Friday 16 November at the Sydney Hilton.

    Publishers Australia Chairman Geoff Hird said, “this is the largest gathering of high calibre magazine industry talent in Australia. We are here to celebrate the best people and products our dynamic industry has to offer.”

    Sterling (L-R): Christina Zhou, Kimberley Cruz, Angela Britt, Jim Hall, Vivienne Kelly and Rachael Micallef.

    From over 270 entries, MC Adam Spencer announced the following winners:

    2012 Excellence Award
    The Adviser, Sterling Publishing

    B2B Magazine of the Year
    Winner: The Adviser
    Runners up: FoodService and Encore

    Consumer Magazine of the Year (above 20k circ.)
    Winner: donna hay magazine
    Runner up: Australian House and Garden

    Consumer Magazine of the Year (below 20k circ.)
    Winner: Dirt Action
    Runner up: Runner’s World

    Custom Magazine of the Year
    Winner: INTHEBLACK
    Runner up: Adidas Onside

    Integrated Media Brand of the Year
    Winner: The Adviser
    Runner up: Ecogeneration

     Editor of the Year (above20k circ.)
    Winner: Justine Cullen, Shop Til You Drop
    Runner up: Heather Catchpole, COSMOS

    Editor of the Year (below 20k circ.)
    Winner: Jessica Darnbrough, The Adviser
    Runner up: Francis Merson, Limelight

    Regional Publication of the Year
    Winner: Adelaide Hills Magazine
    Runner up: SA Kids

    Small Publisher of the Year
    Winner: Focal Attractions
    Runner up: Sterling Publishing

     Best App on Mobile or Tablet Device
    Winner: donna hay magazine
    Runner up: COSMOS

     B2B Cover of the Year:
    Winner: Mortgage Professional Australia
    Runner up: Australian Baking Business

    Custom Cover of the Year:
    Winner: Coles Magazine
    Runner up: Charter

    Consumer Cover of the Year:
    Winner: donna hay magazine
    Runner up: madison

    B2B Designer of the Year:
    Winner: Daniel Williams, The Adviser
    Runner up: Ben Akhurst, Hotel Management

    Custom Designer of the Year:
    Winner: Kate Barnett, INTHEBLACK
    Runner up: Christopher Roseby, QANTAS The Australian Way

    Consumer Designer of the Year:
    Winner: Giota Letsios, Country Style
    Runner up: Rachelle Napper, Australian Good Taste

    Most Successful Audience Development Campaign
    Winner: Australian Classic Car
    Runner up: Australian Good Taste

    Special Edition of the Year
    Winner: Rugby League Week: Darren Lockyer – Life of a Legend
    Runner up: UDIA QLD Boral Awards for Excellence 2011

    Website of the Year
    Runner up:

    Single Article of the Year
    Winner: Clair Weaver, madison
    Runner up: Stephanie Osfield, marie claire

    New Journalist of the Year
    Winner: Smita Mistry, that’s life
    Runner up: Allie Coyne, Haymarket Media

    Consumer Journalist of the Year:
    Winner: Stephanie Osfield, marie claire
    Runner up: Fiona MacDonald, madison

    B2B Journalist of the Year:
    Winner: Byron Kaye, Medical Observer
    Runner up: Tim Burrowes, Mumbrella

    Relaunch of the Year
    Winner: Limelight
    Runner up: Coles Baby and Toddler

    Launch of the Year (below 20k circ.)

    Winner: James Halliday’s Wine Companion
    Runner up: Rock Candy

    Launch of the Year (above 20k circ.)
    Winner: Eat Fit
    Runner up: TechLife

    Association or Member Organisation Magazine of the Year
    Winner: be. (Medibank)
    Runner up: Australian Pharmacist

  • Canon wheels out the big gun – Print21 magazine feature

    There is an air of down to earth pragmatism about Simon Wheeler that occasionally sits oddly with his successful career. As the first Director of Canon’s new Professional Print Service division, he is one of the most influential individuals in the industry, responsible for the company’s graphic arts involvement. This puts him on top of the largest single supplier to the industry.

    It is fairly obvious that someone inside Canon thinks very highly of Simon Wheeler.  In the normal course of events, the managing director of a takeover target is usually in invited, not always politely, to get on his bike and push off, but in this case Wheeler, the former managing director of Océ Australia, has been handed one of the plumb jobs in the industry. Reporting directly to Taz Nakamasu, managing director, Canon Australia, he is now honcho of Canon’s Professional Print Service division, perhaps the largest graphic arts supplier in the industry.

    He has arrived at this eminence not only because of his industry background but also because of his track record. Credited with turning around Océ’s Australian operation after arriving from the UK less than four years ago, the local company was one of the few that made it into the black while Canon struggled to complete its takeover of the Dutch-based company. His success and industry experience were obviously recognised by the powers that be in places as far apart as Tokyo and Venlo, the former Océ HQ in Holland. At a time when executives in many supply side companies have few reasons to feel secure in their positions, Simon Wheeler would seem to be set.

    Yet, sitting down with him and David Denginham, Canon corporate media advisor at the company’s favourite coffee bar in North Ryde, he starts off by admitting he’s pleased to have the job at all.
    “Really, I’m glad to have a job. It’s exciting and a challenge and all but at the end of the day, I’m just happy to have the job,” he says.
    He is a week back from visiting the UK for the Olympics and a week away from announcing the creation of the newly combined Canon NZ Professional Print division. He emphasises the business as usual aspect of the takeover. “This is an evolution, not a revolution. For Australia it comes into effect on January 1, but most of the people are working as if it has already happened. Our customers won’t see an immediate change but they will over time,” he said.

    Bigger than its parts

    Putting Canon and Océ together makes sense on every level, global as well as local, technologically as well as commercially. Canon has long had an enviable reputation for its digital colour engines, a technology it pioneered with the well-regarded CLC series during the 1990s. In the new century it seemed to lose its way a little, having difficulty bringing a new generation of presses to market on time. While it may have held its sway in the consumer and office sectors, it lost market share in commercial print. It needed to do something to regain momentum.
    Océ has always been a well-respected technology manufacturer, translating its Siemens’ high-end engineering legacy into market dominance in high-speed digital printing. Océ products are a byword for quality and efficiency, even if sometimes lacking in market profile. While it maintained a more than competitive position in the transactional space, it fared less well in the lower end of the market and three years ago was struggling to stay afloat.
    Putting the two companies together made perfect sense, even if the takeover process was flawed. An opportunistic UK hedge fund exacted a strategic price for its minority shareholding, delaying the completion of the deal by 18 months. However the end result produces arguably the largest technology supplier to the printing industry, not only in terms of scale but also in the breadth of its product range. Canon Professional Printing has everything from small colour devices through every size of wide format machines up to the latest in ultra-high speed inkjet. It is a formidable array with a solid reputation for quality products. The companies’ reputation for advanced R&D is significant.

    The challenges of putting two such distinct corporate cultures together should not be underestimated. Getting the Japanese and the Dutch/German manufacturers, not to mention Océ’s, now Canon’s, huge US distributorship, to mesh and integrate will not be easy. Leadership at a global level is currently hazy with no single individual leading the charge. The Professional Printing Division is headquartered in Venlo, Holland with Rokus van Ipern, former Océ managing director, as the Canon Europe Director, the first non-Japanese to hold such a senior position in the company.

    Closer to home, Simon Wheeler is not about to promise there will be no fallout from putting the local operations together. He maintains there is no intention to reduce the size of the business; rather there will be extra service and marketing support to the customers. But, he admits that not everyone will make the transition.

    “There will be some who won’t come across but overall there is very little overlap. What’s important is to focus on our customers. I really believe that together we are stronger and our customers will see the results over the next few years.”

  • Are printers really paying too much in wages?

    Industry gadfly, James Cryer, bites back at the suggestion that high wages are a problem for the printing industry.

    In the current issue of Print21 magazine, Hagop Tchamkertenian, the industry’s sole full-time economist, claims the industry’s wages bill is too high. In his opinion the secret of how to make a buck in the printing industry is to reduce your labour costs.

    As far as I’m concerned this earth-shattering revelation can be implemented in one of three ways.

    One being to simply front up to all your employees and say,“You’re all costing me a fortune, I’m knocking 10% off everyone’s wage packet – starting next week!”

    Or, you could say – “Dear valued employees, the PIAA advises that we’re employing too many people and we’ll be drawing lots tomorrow in the staff canteen to find out which of you will get the chop.”

    Or, you could say in more polite terms, “I’ve evaluated the optimal man/machine mix, and have come to the conclusion that I need to substitute more capital for labour, which means, I’m buying a big new press so I don’t need to employ so many tradesmen.”

    We know this is happening among many high-profile firms – Southern Colour, Bambra, Label House and Jaypak in WA, to mention just a few, who have proudly proclaimed the power of their new press and its capacity to replace multiple bodies with just one.

    So far, so good. Hagop should be pleased to endorse all the above, as such strategies will result in achieving a lower cost-base.

    But hang on. Aren’t there a couple of road-blocks to this theory?

    One is that we’re about to embark on a recruitment drive to attract and retain more staff. Is Hagop is advocating we should employ fewer people? Perhaps we should call a halt to the new industry training initiative?

    Another is that I know a small but highly successfull digital-centre whose boss deliberately pays his staff over market rates. Do we advise this manager that he’s got it all wrong – he should go back and reduce their wages. Presumably this is what Hagop meant when he wrote labour costs are “clearly impacting on the bottom line.”

    I don’t believe the solution is as clear-cut as he may think. We are in the midst of a massive transition from labour to capital.

    I have another explanation. I suspect that two forces have been operating in concert to throw the unsuspecting economist off guard.

    One is the fact that the cost of other inputs, such as paper, have dropped faster than labour costs, which creates the illusion that labour is too high.

    The second is that dramatic improvements in workflow and other efficiencies in recent years, have resulted in some reductions in price, which again makes labour look higher in relative but not in actual terms.

    But this is the fun of being an economist – you can stir the tea-leaves, peer into the abyss, and come to virtually whatever conclusions you like. It reinforces my belief that economists should not try to tell proprietors how to run their business.

    As someone said to me recently – be sure of your facts!

    To read Tchamkertenian’s report as it appeared in the Print21 October issue, click here.

  • Q stands for quality – Print21 magazine feature

    The Swiss are not best known for their presence in the inkjet wide format market but that might be about to change. While the name swissQprint is yet to gain the stature of other Swiss printing brands, its owners leave no doubt as to their destination. Patrick Howard visited the manufacturing plant in Widnau, Switzerland, to meet the makers.

    The world does not suffer from a lack of wide format equipment manufacturers. Nor does it lack high-profile brands of wide format machines. The technology is not inherently difficult nor constitute a major barrier to entry; anyone can buy inkjet heads and some engineering expertise to fabricate wide format machines.

    All of which begs the question, what would make a small start-up enterprise in Switzerland think it could stake a claim in such a crowded market? And why would you want to try? I travelled from Zurich to the train station at Heerbrugg near the shores of Lake Constance on the Swiss-Austrian border to seek for answers to these questions.

    swissQprint is a bit of a phenomenon in the industry, seemingly springing fully formed out of nowhere to claim a Rolls Royce stature in wide format printing. It made its first international appearance at drupa in 2008, staking its claim with its initial product, the Oryx. This UV-inkjet flatbed machine was notable for the standards of precision and reliability that have come to represent the swissQprint range. It was manufactured to a level that few were expecting from the sector.

    Since then, swissQprint has progressed at a considered rate, bringing two new models to the market – the Impala in 2010 and, much to the industry’s surprise, the extra-wide format Nyala at this year’s drupa. Both models embodied design features and productivity improvements that responded to market demand. Each successor had more enhancements than its predecessor. For instance, the 512 Konica Minolta nozzles per printhead of the original Oryx (outputting 18m2/h in production mode), were superseded by 1,024 nozzles in the Impala (delivering up to 67m2/h), which was again trumped by the Nyala, outputting 72m2/h in production mode increasing to an industry beating 200m2h in draft mode. Just as important was the expansion in width going from 2.5 x 4m board to 3.2 x 4m in the Nyala.

    Some of the team behind the swissQprint brand (l-r) Reto Eicher, CEO, Petra Fetting, marcom, and Kilian Hintermann, product manager.

    Origins and motivation

    There is increasing industry acceptance of swissQprint’s claim that it produces the most productive and reliable machine on the market. Its stand at drupa was a magnet for visitors during most of the 14 days. The swissQprint brand is creating its own market niche and expectation. With three models under its belt, and with the Nyala claiming an ever-greater market share, it’s appropriate to look at how it all came about and what the future holds.

    swissQprint grew out of a larger Swiss manufacturing company that decided its fledgling inkjet business was not a strategic fit. In 2007, a handful of employees, led by CEO Reto Eicher, took the opportunity to leverage their expertise and experience in wide format UV technology to create a new business. They gained sufficient financial backing from a local Swiss regional finance partner, Rheintal Assetts, which is content with a minority shareholding, leaving the operation of the company to the owner-management. From the start, the strategy was to only make products that were best in class, not to compete on price against the majority of other wide format machines, and to develop an unparalleled service ethos.

    The swissQprint Impala.

    On meeting with the swissQprint people in their anonymous building in the Rhine Valley, there appears a disconnect between meeting the demands of an aggressively competitive market and the more reserved and considered long-term aims and ethos of the company. According to Eicher, the foundation of the company’s success rests as much on its personnel and service ethic as it does on its undoubted engineering excellence. A tall intense individual, he makes the point that most, nearly all, the employees are locals, living nearby. Their welfare is as important to the enterprise as market success, although obviously both need the other. There is no hunger for growth here, no five-year plan for market share, nothing that would make sense to a fund manager investing in any of the larger international corporations that play in the sector. Success is measured altogether differently at swissQprint and he seems a little phased by questions as to long-term strategy.

    “A difficult question. Five years ago we started with four people, now we are 35. We are happy how we are today but we see [that] you have to grow. And when you see what happens in the past three years, then I think we will grow,” he said.

    Not the cheapest

    Eicher is backed up in this approach to growth and the future by Kilian Hintermann, product manager, for whom there is no imperative in having a set strategy in place, other than to continue to do what is being done. He emphasises the benefits of flexibility that come from having all assembly processes in-house. Because swissQprint is so close to its customers, he does not believe there is need for big market surveys to discover what is the next step. “It’s not necessary, you just have to listen to what the customers are saying. We always have new ideas, of course. Nobody was expecting a new printer at drupa.

    “As long as we are earning money, we can invest in research and development. That is why we are not the cheapest. As long as we can do that, something will come and that is what customers want to see. Existing customers want to stay with us and buy the next generation.”

    There is no doubt that the Nyala has met the market’s expectations. Already 12 have been sold since its drupa launch, joining the 117 Oryx and 114 Impalas already in the market with the approximately 230 customers worldwide. And Hintermann is right, swissQprint is not the cheapest machine on the market, not by a long shot. The strategy appears to be to claim a top-of-the-market position by delivering a product that is unsurpassed in reliability and precision, in the tradition of classical Swiss engineering. The expectation is that swissQprint customers are prepared to pay for a superior performance from a dedicated manufacturer promoting a recognised brand.

    The other arm of the value proposition is assured levels of service. When people invest at this level, the expectation of back-up is extremely high. According to Reto Eicher, the company’s commitment to service is second to none.

    “We try to help everybody, all our customers. It’s not like in the United States where when they sell a machine one day, they are finished. We are not happy if the customer has a problem. It is important that we help them. This is our brand, this is very important to us. People who work here, everybody, are very passionate [about it]. I think you can feel it,” he said.

    What makes it work?

    All the passion in the world will not succeed unless it is backed up by the technology. The still relatively new industry of wide format printing is growing up, maturing in its expectations. It is moving further away from niche markets to become a mainstay of the commercial printing market. It is also finding a growing role in industrial processes. As such, its expectations are also developing. Speed and reliability are the essential requirements in a high-productivity market. This is where swissQprint plays. There is no doubt that the product is not for everyone, especially print-for-pay producers who are less concerned with quality than capital cost. There are plenty of other machines out there for that sector.

    For those who pin their future on the quality of output as well as being able to guarantee their delivery promises, swissQprint is a defining technology. Modular and flexible, robust to a fault, it is designed to meet every requirement in an industrial setting. Either flatbed or roll-to-roll, outputting on flexible or rigid materials, it has nine colour channels with the ability to handle specials and white colours, varnishes, and primers. With the Nyala there is a very smart option that allows oversized boards to be imaged and moved easily on reverse thrust air from the table.

    All of this is manufactured to the highest level at the Swiss manufacturing plant. It is an imprimatur of quality that is gaining ever-greater recognition and it is the basis on which the company is prospering. But behind the dedication to the high engineering standards, there is also a very pragmatic Swiss recognition of having to be cost effective, of meeting the market. There is no point in having the best machine if the price precludes making a profit. Kilian Hintermann is nothing if not a realist. He knows the market recognises the best recommendations are those from satisfied customers. Up to now, swissQprint appears to have no shortage of them.

  • Issue 553 – 14 November 2012

    This week, CLB Training launches the first of the print training courses it acquired from RMIT University as Printing Industries gets government backing for its own key courses; Fuji Xerox Australia is shedding its workforce in a bid to bolster its bottom line, with the company reducing its staff numbers by more than 40 people over three months; and, former Blue Star Australia managing director, Phillip Bower, leaves the company’s Australian operations as new owner, Geoff Selig, moves in.


    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.

  • PIAA gets government backing for key courses

    Printing Industries is calling for Expressions of Interest from New South Wales and Victorian companies in a series of business productivity courses that the Federal Government has agreed to subsidise.

    Printing companies have the option of their staff members undertaking any or all of the three courses being offered which are geared towards improving company competitiveness in a robust business environment.

    The courses are:

    The Challenge of Leadership (Certificate IV in Frontline Management)

    This course aims to develop the highly effective leadership abilities required for continuous improvement, project management, change- management, innovation and building high performance teams including:

    • Developing and implementing a 6 – 8 month workplace project
    • Accepting the challenge of a high performance environment
    • Overcoming resistance as a leader of change and innovation
    • Developing a commitment to continuous improvement
    • Creating high performance teams
    • Developing employee potential in a learning environment
    • Delegation, decision-making and problem solving.

    The Sales Edge (Certificate IV in Business Sales)

    Based on the premise that: “Nothing happens until something gets sold,” this course is geared for sales teams to grow revenue through learning how to achieve:

    • New clients
    • Better client retention
    • More profitable relationships with existing clients
    • Increased market share.

    The third course, Promoting Innovation, is customised to reflect the specific needs of enterprises and is framed to develop an innovative mindset in the training participant. It includes two face-to-face training days supported by on-the-job project work and coaching.

    At the end of the program participants will have developed skills, tools and behaviours that can be applied to day to day work to deliver innovative solutions to opportunities and problems, which might include new products, processes, services and practices.

    Participants will receive a formal Skills Set Certification from a Registered Training Organisation.

    Printing Industries CEO Bill Healey says that one of the major challenges facing printing companies was in identifying their future skill sets.

    “The surety of the ‘trades’ to meet your production requirements is diminishing as new ‘non-traditional’ technology becomes available and engaged in the printing business of today and tomorrow,” he says. “Numerous studies have shown that the best managed companies achieve high scores for performance in areas such as sales per employee, rate of revenue and market share growth. Training of employees has significant and positive benefits to businesses operating in a highly competitive market.

    “There is little doubt that in today’s highly competitive environment, productivity gains must be sought at all points across the marketing and sales value chain for small, medium, and large sized companies,” he says.

    According to Healey, Printing Industries is partnering with Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA), Federal Government and in NSW Junior Printing Executives (JPE) to bring these crucial skills into the reach of all printing companies.

    “Subject to industry demand, we hope to bring these courses to Sydney and Melbourne and to regional areas in both states,” he says. “Training will begin in February 2013 and in most instances will run for about 10 months. Costs will be minimal since these courses will be substantially subsidised and Printing Industries will assist with the necessary paperwork making this a very attractive proposition for all businesses.”

    To register your interest, contact:

    Neal McLary; Mobile:0418738231

  • So you think you’ve gone digital? Think Again – Print21 Magazine feature

    Say digital to most printers and they think digital printing. Say it to the rest of the world and they think internet, online, mobile, tablets, e-readers and TV. With the stellar growth of the digital economy, all print providers need to have a strategy that accesses it, says Andy McCourt. Having a website is not enough; having W2P is better but to truly extract dollars from the digital economy, you need an all-encompassing strategy and a heart for change.

    The majority of printed products convey information. Even printed packaging, although it also protects and preserves, is there to convey information about the contents; the brand, the ingredients, the use-by date. Sectors such as printed ceramic wall tiles, floor covering, wallpaper could arguably be purely decorative but even these convey information about the culture and aesthetics of their originators.

    Today’s information business is operating in two economies and, yes, they are also two-speed economies. The digital, bits and bytes-based economy is roaring ahead to the extent that many of the most valuable companies in the world are primarily players in the digital economy like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. Print media is stuck in an ‘atoms-based’ physical world where costs are rising, distribution is lengthy using trucks, ships and planes and, although global growth exists, it is tiny at around 1.36 per cent CAGR (source: When dissected into Western and Asian/emerging markets, it is clear that print media is declining in the West and growing in regions such as Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East and former Soviet bloc economies.

    This is not to say that all areas of printing are doing badly right now. Outdoor media, for example, posted a third quarter growth of 6.5 per cent last financial year, its 11th consecutive period of growth (source: OMA). Billboards and other roadside attractions were the major earners and these are all currently printed; however there is a nascent digital screen display threat even to this market.

    Many digital on-demand printers are doing well such as Sydney’s SOS Print & Media which more than doubled post-tax profits to $520,000 in FY 2010-11, the result of a smart sales strategy and heavy investment in high volume digital production. Melbourne’s On Demand is prospering for very similar reasons.

    Some of those bêtes noir of our industry – print managers – continue to grow despite some recent well-publicised failures. Genii Print Management based on Sydney’s northern beaches has just topped $10 million in sales from a scratch start in 2009. Established by former Blue Star web sales manager, Marcus Smith, with a bit of help from his UK mate, Simon Biltcliffe of Webmart fame, Genii claims to buy about 50 per cent of its print within Australia with the rest coming in from China. The sales and production team continues to grow as they win more accounts.

    The term that defines virtually all of the success stories in print is digital. Not just the act of printing digitally but, as Nicholas Negroponte said in his 1996 magnum opus, ‘being digital’. Being digital encompasses all manner of digital technology, leveraging the digital juggernaut to move atoms. Take Kogan <> for example: it sells the same appliances, computers, TVs and mobile phones as Harvey Norman but while Harvey’s profits dive, Kogan’s rocket because it is an all-digital sales channel for atoms-based products: – they’ve tapped into the digital economy and printers can do it too. Hopefully these eight steps will set you on your way.

    Supercharge your website: So you have a website that was designed five years ago and tells the world you are a craft printer with a ten-colour perfector and a Tiegel. I’ll be frank with you – no one is interested. Supercharging your website is about making it sing and having new information daily. ‘Last updated October 1876’ is the kiss of death on websites. A website is not a substitute for an advertisement or a brag-book. It is a business in itself – or businesses since you can have many. Get professional web designers to make it over, identify the products you offer first not the equipment they are manufactured on, incorporate W2P as a priority, not an afterthought. Sell to the world – the internet is global. What? Who is going to buy 1,000 NCR three-part A5 docket books from me in Iceland I hear you ask? Probably nobody but could you manage business cards with special finishes, books by Australian authors, photobooks with a free stuffed Koala or personalised drink coasters? Even some trade printers know the way to supercharge a website, such as <> – take a lead from them.

    Embrace W2P: Embracing web-to-print is not an option. Now or later, it is a necessity. In her book, Jennifer Matt of the US, states it quite succinctly on the cover. Web (where your customers are) 2 (how to reach them) Print (what to sell them). People now spend more time on the internet and mobile devices than reading printed products (source: WPP), so it makes sense to try and reach them there. W2P has other advantages in that it automates the order process, captures all existing and new customer data, enables the selling of additional items (binders, branded coffee mugs, corporate apparel, software, business aids) and can lessen credit risks by having up-front payment options.

    Get your app together: Apps, or mobile applications, are the biggest thing in marketing today. They are those things that come free with your iPhone or Android phone or can be downloaded from various app stores such as Apple’s iTunes. While many apps are for entertainment, business apps are rapidly becoming the preferred way to shop for mobile and tablet users. While W2P simplifies customer interaction and ordering in the office or home, apps can push specific customer experiences wherever the smart phone goes. By 2017, around 3 billion smart phones will be in use around the globe and mobile transactions will amount to about $730 billion (source: comScore & Juniper Research). Already mobile apps exist that deliver a printed product: <> is one and <> is another. You can even take a photo with your iPhone, upload to an app and have a printed t-shirt delivered within seven days. I am an app developer myself and will be releasing the first one in early 2013 – selling a particular kind of print to the world and producing it all in Australia. If I can do it, you can too!

    Appoint a social media/SEO Google-iser: Even with so much evidence around them, some printers continue to drink their own Kool-Aid and see social media, Google Adwords and search engine optimisation (SEO) as petty subordinates to the might of the press. It’s time to reverse the thought pattern. The most successful companies today have whole departments dedicated to seeding, engaging with and fertilising the social media world. The world’s largest media buying company, WPP, will spend more with Google next year than it did with a ‘major’ media group. This will be via Adwords, affiliate marketing, referrals, tagging, YouTube and so on. One of the best practitioners in our industry is @PenguinUKbooks on Twitter – take a look and learn. Whether in-house or outsourced, your SM/SEO Google-iser will be the best investment you can make if you plan to be in business for the next 10 years.

    Hey, you get on my cloud! If you are old enough to recognise the play on this Rolling Stones hit of the 60s, you need to take note. Cloud IT services that enable you to accomplish all that is needed to engage with the digital economy mean that you don’t need to buy expensive software and employ geeky IT people. It can all be licensed and operated in the cloud. Cloud computing is an article on its own but, to grasp the point, go to <>, take the demo, set yourself up in an online photobook business for as little as $500 a month and start selling photobooks to the world.

    Offer things other than print: When I worked in London, a British comedian by the name of Les Dawson was celebrity presenter at the UK Print Awards, held at the swanky Dorchester Hotel. Les liked a drink and when he came to announce the Gold Award for ‘Self-covered four colour offset catalogues, saddle-stitched and less than 32 pages’, he suffixed it with an aside ‘Whatever the *#@! that means’. You see, we can get obsessively absorbed in the process of print and convince ourselves that it is all people want from us, when in actuality they want a nice warm and satisfying buying experience. If you do a good job on a person’s business cards, who is to say they won’t buy embroidered polo shirts from you? Look at the specials on <> and you’ll see printed tote-bags on offer at 99 cents each, minimum order 500. They don’t even print them; the order goes to an offshore producer who ships the finished items. See the point? Another good example of this ‘full service’ offering is <>.

    Stop quoting – start winning business: A popular definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result. In the printing business, this is: make or receive a sales call; prepare a cost estimate; quote the customer; wait. After a long wait, call the customer and ask, “Did we win that quote, John?” Upon being told sorry, no, say, “OK, well remember us for next time eh?” With W2P and apps-based selling, YOU decide the price, the customer accepts it and pays you up-front, or at least a 50 per cent deposit. Honestly, if I were a commercial print shop today I’d never issue another quote, knowing the job will be touted around five other printers. That’s a race to the bottom. Direct the enquirer to your website and say, “Everything you need to know is there and it’s so easy to use… let me know if you have any questions that are not addressed there.”

    Innovate, educate or vacate: Innovation in any business is an on-going essential. Ignore it and you will suffer. Look at Nokia; one minute kings of the mobile phone world, next minute wondering what happened when iPhones and Android smart phones took all the sales away. You also need to educate and share knowledge, not only with staff but with your customers too. Sharing knowledge for free elevates your standing and predisposes the beneficiaries to do business with you if you ask nicely enough.

    If all this seems too hard, it could be time to walk into the sunset and direct your energies towards an exit strategy, where you can sit on your verandah with your iPad and connect to the wonderful world of the digital economy in tranquil surroundings while writing a brief for ‘App-retirer’ – the mobile app that makes it easy for anyone to plan their retirement safely and financially soundly – from someone who did just that. Send for free booklet.

  • Offset Alpine wins Australia’s 1st Elephant Trophy

    Riding the crest of the winning wave attached to its Capabilities+ printers’ promotion book, Offset Alpine has finally scored a win in the world’s most prestigious printing competition, The Sappi Printer of the Year.

    The success is the culmination of many years of hard work by the team at Lidcombe. Despite making it to the world finals on a number of occasions it never bagged the famed Elephant Trophy – until now. Capabilities+ has enjoyed a phenomenal run of success, making a clean sweep not only of the local state and national print awards but also winning a Benny in the USA.

    According to John Walker, managing director Sappi Trading Australia, the win is a significant boost for the reputation of the local industry. “Winning on the world stage like this is very important. It confirms that Australian printing is as good as it gets,” he said.

    Garth Hackett, sales manager of IPMG and for many years one of the driving forces behind the company’s quest for the Sappi prize said it was very satisfying to have finally won. “Its good to measure yourself against the best in the world. It lets you know how we measure up,” he said.

    He said that striving after quality flows through to every part of the business. “I think it does matter to customers knowing they are dealing with a printer as good as any in the world,” he said.

    Sappi Trading will present the famed Elephant Trophy to Offset Alpine at a ceremony in Lidcombe in the next couple of weeks.


  • Issue 552 – Print21 Latest News

    This week, PMP concedes it will cut jobs in the next phase of its $64 million cost saving transformation strategy; former Blue Star chief and CaxtonWeb owner, Geoff Selig, buys Blue Star Print Australia from Champ PE after weeks of speculation; drupa gives Ipex a break by sticking to its four-year cycle; Queensland’s GoPrint could be on the rocks again; and the NSW PICAs showcase the best of the state’s print players in the full Print21 wrap-up.


    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.

  • Breaking News – CaxtonWeb buys Blue Star Print Australia

    Geoff Selig, former CEO of  Blue Star and current owner of Sydney-based CaxtonWeb has bought Blue Star Print Australia from owner Champ Private Equity.

  • Geoff Selig regains Blue Star Print Australia

    Geoff Selig, former CEO of  Blue Star and current owner of Sydney-based CaxtonWeb has bought Blue Star Print Australia. After having the company on the block for months, Champ Private Equity finally sold the Australian part of the business to the former NSW Liberal Party president.

    A Blue Star source unofficially confirmed today [6 November] that CaxtonWeb is the buyer of the group’s Australian print business after weeks of speculation that Selig had been in talks to acquire the private equity owned trans-Tasman company.

    Blue Star Group’s Australian operations include Blue Star IQ, PRINT, DM GO and Webstar. However, the deal does not extend to Blue Star’s New Zealand operation, which houses around eight businesses, including Panprint and Printlink. At the time of printing, neither party provided further comment on the deals details.

    The sale of Blue Star Print Australia to CaxtonWeb sees Selig go another round with the company he left as CEO in 2007, shortly after it was purchased by Champ PE for NZ$385 million in late 2006.

    In the lead up to the acquisition, industry speculation suggesting that if Selig did buy Blue Star Print Australia, his CaxtonWeb business would expand the struggling print company’s more profitable digital business along with its web business and ultimately shut down its traditional offset sheet-fed print division.

    Certainly, much of Selig’s print history and experience lies firmly in the web offset sector, and his CaxtonWeb Sydney-based company already holds a strong position in the local industry’s heatset web offset market.

    Blue Star Print Australia's new owner, Geoff Selig

    Champ PE’s successful sale of Blue Star Print Australia to CaxtonWeb comes less than three months after Goldman Sachs was enlisted by Champ PE to facilitate the sale of Blue Star Group. With the multinational investment-banking firm overseeing the sale of the company, there were several potential buyers vying for the business.

    In July, prior to the Goldman Sachs-managed sale process, Champ PE sold off Blue Star’s Rapid Labels division in New Zealand to diversified industrial company, Tiri Group, headed up by former Blue Star managing director Tom Sturgess, at the time opening the floodgates for the potential break-up of the company.