Archive for January, 2013

  • Spandex HP Latex Canberra open house

    Spandex is showing off its newest wide format offering by hosting an open house event in Canberra to showcase its new HP Latex large format printer range, on 20 and 21 February.

    Spandex Asia Pacific signed a local distribution deal with HP Latex Technology South Pacific in November last year, with the supplier appointed as the local reseller of the HP DesignJet Latex wide format printer range, including the DesignJet L26500 and the Superwide DesignJet L28500.

    Now, in a bid to drum up some local interest in its new wide format machines, Spandex is throwing open the doors of its temporary site in Canberra. The open house will feature a demonstration of the HP DesignJet 26500 Latex Printer and a technical presentation of the press range.

    For Nathan Barclay, Spandex marketing manager, Canberra was a market that was ripe for the introduction of the HP Latex range.

    “The business in Canberra for wide format is always good,” says Barclay.  “Our rep goes down there once every few weeks and he’s always had a busy time. We think it’s an open market in Canberra.”

    Certainly, since Spandex took on the HP Latex DesignJet range, the company has seen a positive initial response from the local market.

    “They’re definitely starting to roll off the floor,” says Barclay. “I think we’ve got at least one in each state, which is not bad considering that we were at the end of one year and at the beginning of another when we signed the distribution deal.”

    Once the Canberra open house is done and dusted, Barclay says Spandex will follow it up with more open houses in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. “Hopefully, that will happen before Easter. We want to strike while iron’s hot,” he says.

    The Spandex HP DesignJet Latex Printer Open House will be held at Canberra
Mantra On Northbourne,
84 Northbourne Avenue
Canberra, ACT, on
20 February 2013
4pm to 8pm
and 21 February 2013
9am to 5pm.

    Click here to register.

  • Issue 562 – 30 January 2013

    This week, Ipex 2014 organiser, Informa Exhibitions, gives the quadrennial event a complete overhaul in a bid to lure back major exhibitors. Offset sheetfed press manufacturers Ryobi and Mitsubishi move to merge their print businesses. Andy McCourt investigates the state of Direct Imaging print technology in the Australian marketplace. And, the local industry farewells Clarke Murphy Print’s Bob Clarke.

     

    Thanks for joining us again this week to catch up with the industry’s latest news and information. You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date. If you like this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free New Year subscription here.

     

    We like to keep the proverbial ear to the ground and stay in close touch with our tipster friends throughout the industry, so please continue to send your news and information to us at NEWS, or call us on 02 93563976. You can also follow us on Twitter for daily news updates.

  • Sustainable Green Print Program – PIAA

    Victoria and Tasmania will be the first states in Australia to kick off the year with Printing Industries’ Sustainable Green Print (SGP) certification program, with 12 February marking the start date for the courses.

    Based on an ISO14001 framework, the SGP program is tailored to meet print business’s individual requirements – the demands of customers and the changing trends in dealing with managing environmental responsibility.

    The multi-level system gives businesses a choice of four linked achievement levels including ISO 14001 (Level 3 SGP) allowing printers to choose their ow participation and progress levels. 

    Bruce Lowery (pictured), Printing Industries Victorian and Tasmanian member services manager, cites the SGP program as being one of the most influential initiatives to impact the industry in recent years.

    “I’ve been intimately involved with the implementation of the SGP program since it began about four years ago,” says Lowery. “We now have over 40 Victorian and Tasmanian companies who are either already fully certified, or have completed the training and are awaiting their final audit visit.

    “Without exception, all have found that the resulting benefits have exceeded their expectations. Not only have they made their workplaces healthier and safer environmentally, they have also realised significant efficiency and productivity improvements along the way,” he says.

    Lowery says that in addition to meeting the growing consumer demand for environmental credentialing, the program has given companies a competitive advantage in a market where printing companies found it hard to differentiate.

    “It’s suicidal for companies to try to compete on price. They certainly need to be more innovative, not just with products, but with the way they conduct business,” he says. “Sustainable Green Print is a widely recognised program meeting community sustainability expectations and positively showcasing the achievements of certified companies and the way those companies do business.

    “Any program that provides significant advantages over your competitors has got to be a worthwhile initiative,” he says.

    According to Lowery, dramatically reducing energy consumption and wastage, as well significantly improving recycling rates were some of the many benefits achieved through the program.

    He says that most of the SGP-trained and certified companies were quick to take full advantage of the marketing and promotional opportunities resulting from their certification.

    The February Sustainable Green Print training course will be held at Printing Industries’ Victorian office at Mulgrave. Companies who enroll for Levels One and Two over the two days will be eligible for in-the-field support prior to their onsite audit which is necessary for final certification. Inquiries to Bruce Lowery on (03) 8541 7304 or email bruce@printnet.com.au.

  • Roland DG 2013 VersaWorks training dates

    Wide format manufacturer, Roland DG, is looking to top up its customers’ skill-set in the coming year, with the release of the dates for its 2013 VersaWorks Advanced training course schedule. 

    Developed by experienced Roland print specialists, the VersaWorks Advanced training courses are designed to improve print quality, production processes, and overall commercial performance.

    Providing detailed lessons on how to use both the standard and advanced features of VersaWorks, the interactive courses will give users the tools and knowledge to take full advantage of the many capabilities of their Roland printer or printer/cutter.

    The full day course, run in seminar style with demonstrations will cover topics including:

    -Environment & calibration

    -Colour management

    -Managing and fine-tuning profiles

    -Advanced production techniques and tips

    -Workflow Automation

    It will also cover new features in the latest version of VersaWorks, including the built in PANTONE libraries and important maintenance that will help to extend the life of its customers’ Roland printers.

    The courses will run throughout Australia and will commence in Sydney and Melbourne, with dates for other areas to be confirmed and announced shortly.

    The dates are:

    -Tuesday 26 March – Sydney

    -Wednesday 1 May – Melbourne

    -Wednesday 26 June – Sydney

    -Thursday 8 August – Melbourne

    -Thursday 26 September – Sydney

    -Tuesday 19 November – Melbourne

    To register, or for more information on Roland DG Academy visit www.rolanddg.com.au/academy or contact Roland DG on (02) 9975 0000.

  • Whatever happened to DI? – Andy McCourt’s Reverb

    In his second Reverb column, Andy McCourt investigates the state of Direct Imaging print technology – a hybrid digital offset press system – in today’s industry, and discovers that the 1990s technology may be making a comeback in some sectors. 

    That’s DI as in Direct Imaging presses and not princesses! Hi and welcome to my second Print21 ‘Reverb’.

    DI presses are hybrid digital offset presses where plates are laser-imaged on-the-press for effective short run jobs that deliver the benefits of toner digital but the quality and low cost-per-sheet of offset. This results in very short make-ready times (5 to 10 minutes) compared to making plates and mounting them on the press.

    The first DI press was shown by Heidelberg in Chicago at the 1991 PRINT trade show.  I was there to see crowds thronging around the machine, all lit up in blue neon lights and page data being ripped directly to the press. It was the talking point of the show but very few printers “got” the concept of short run on-demand jobs back then and sales were slow.

    Andy McCourt

    At Ipex 1993 time, a new version using Presstek’s PEARLdry plates was introduced; sales improved but it was not until the drupa 1995 launch of the smaller Quickmaster that DI really took off, with over 1,500 presses eventually being sold worldwide. The QM-DI was a great profit machine; printers owning them noticed fiddly short-run jobs could be performed with a minimum of prepress fuss and customers didn’t argue about the higher price-per-page.

    The DI juggernaut rolled on for a few more years with Heidelberg introducing a five-colour B2 press, the Speedmaster 74-DI and even previewing a 102 DI press at Ipex 1998, using Creo laser imaging heads. By drupa 2000 the halls were replete with DI presses from Heidelberg, KBA, Sakurai, Adast, Ryobi, Akiyama, Screen and even Xerox and Kodak got on the DI bandwagon with re-badged Adast 2-up and 4-up presses, using Presstek technologies. Even a label press manufacturer – Nilpeter – designed a rotary press using Presstek DI technology.

    It looked like DI’s star would continue to rise for many years – even industry prophet Frank Romano predicted this – but a series of legal disputes began that unnerved press manufacturers. Presstek – the undoubted inventor of DI and owner of the ‘DI’ trademark – took action against Creo, Kodak and Fujifilm, protecting its intellectual property rights. In this, Presstek was mostly successful but it looked like only one manufacturer could supply the DI imaging heads and most importantly, the DI plate material. Meanwhile, CTP arrived, was getting faster and make-ready times on conventional offset presses were dropping. In the background, digital toner presses were getting faster and more reliable.

    Presstek’s ablation plate imaging technology was co-invented by Bob Howard, who also invented the Dot Matrix printer when he formed Centronics. DI was sold with great success to the abovementioned OEM partners over several years. There was also a proofing collaboration with 3M/Imation.

    However, in 2006 Heidelberg dropped the bombshell – it was quitting DI presses.  Some of the others had already fallen by the wayside, with Xerox’s Presstek-powered Docucolor 233 and 400 being discontinued in favour of iGen development, Adast going broke, KBA ceasing development of the Karats and others not bringing their DI prototypes to market. This could have been the death knell for DI except for one thing: Presstek’s dogged belief in the DI business model, where it fitted, as a better profit proposition for many printers. Offset stocks, Waterless Offset quality up to 300dpi, single person operation, no click charges and fewer breakdowns – these were some of the compelling arguments. By 2010, only Presstek, Ryobi and Screen with its Truepress 344, were offering new direct imaging presses.

    Presstek roars back with DI

    Almost as soon as the Heidelberg withdrawal from DI press manufacture was announced, Presstek announced it would make its own presses, in collaboration with long-standing OEM partner Ryobi. The 52DI was the first, a B3 landscape press, which is today also available with spot or flood coating, followed by the A3 portrait 34DI, which is also offered as the 3404E-DI by Ryobi. UV versions of both these presses are also available.

    What re-opened the eyes of many litho printers looking to go digital but not liking the typical digital ‘click’ model and format limitations, was the 2011 introduction of the Presstek 75DI. Based on the Ryobi 750 series but with Presstek DI throughout, it is highly automated, pumps up to 16,000 sph through and is available in 4 to 10 colours, with coating and UV options, straight or perfecting and, to appease the ‘it’s not true digital’ nay-sayers: in-line variable data via the inclusion of inkjet printing modules. Add the packaging option of up to 0.8mm cartonboard and it seems this press has every feature any other B2+ offset press maker offers with one huge advantage.

    The 75DI hits the sweet spot of profitable printing from 500 to 5,000 B2 sheets better than any other machine, toner, inkjet or offset. Within this band, 1,000 to 2,500 sheets is the fastest growing area for most jobs in printing and Presstek claims a 50 per cent lower cost-per-page than toner-based digital, and a 13 per cent higher profitability than printing the same job conventionally. After 20,000 sheets for one job, the profit scales tip back in favour of conventional litho plus CTP. Around a dozen 75DIs have been installed around the world so far – not a bad achievement in a depressed market for a newcomer to B2. A not insignificant number of 52DIs with coater and a sprinkling of 34s have also been sold recently.

    So that’s what happened to DI; its inventor is now the sole purveyor of the technology. In my pre-drupa wrap on B2 digital,  I did not even mention Presstek, considering it a waterless offset solution. I was wrong; a convivial chat with Asia-Pacific director Tim Sawyer, visiting Sydney last week, sorted that out. The 75DI especially is a digital press well worth investigating for short to medium-run printing and in particular short-run folding carton work. Apart from the high automation, which can include built-in spectros monitoring colour and automatically adjusting ink keys, a single operator can perform dozens of plate changes per shift, pumping out jobs that will return a much higher profit than those from a neighbouring conventional offset press running a long run.

    DI is not dead, far from it. It is fulfilling an important role in a market that is increasingly short-run and on-demand. You should think about it if this is you.

  • Victoria and Tasmania spearhead Sustainable Green Print program

    Victoria and Tasmania will be the first states in Australia to kick off the year with Printing Industries’ Sustainable Green Print (SGP) certification program, with 12 February marking the start date for the courses.

    Based on an ISO14001 framework, the SGP program is tailored to meet print business’s individual requirements – the demands of customers and the changing trends in dealing with managing environmental responsibility.

    The multi-level system gives businesses a choice of four linked achievement levels including ISO 14001 (Level 3 SGP) allowing printers to choose their ow participation and progress levels.

    Bruce Lowery (pictured), Printing Industries Victorian and Tasmanian member services manager, cites the SGP program as being one of the most influential initiatives to impact the industry in recent years.

    “I’ve been intimately involved with the implementation of the SGP program since it began about four years ago,” says Lowery. “We now have over 40 Victorian and Tasmanian companies who are either already fully certified, or have completed the training and are awaiting their final audit visit.

    “Without exception, all have found that the resulting benefits have exceeded their expectations. Not only have they made their workplaces healthier and safer environmentally, they have also realised significant efficiency and productivity improvements along the way,” he says.

    Lowery says that in addition to meeting the growing consumer demand for environmental credentialing, the program has given companies a competitive advantage in a market where printing companies found it hard to differentiate.

    “It’s suicidal for companies to try to compete on price. They certainly need to be more innovative, not just with products, but with the way they conduct business,” he says. “Sustainable Green Print is a widely recognised program meeting community sustainability expectations and positively showcasing the achievements of certified companies and the way those companies do business.

    “Any program that provides significant advantages over your competitors has got to be a worthwhile initiative,” he says.

    According to Lowery, dramatically reducing energy consumption and wastage, as well significantly improving recycling rates were some of the many benefits achieved through the program.

    He says that most of the SGP-trained and certified companies were quick to take full advantage of the marketing and promotional opportunities resulting from their certification.

    The February Sustainable Green Print training course will be held at Printing Industries’ Victorian office at Mulgrave. Companies who enroll for Levels One and Two over the two days will be eligible for in-the-field support prior to their onsite audit which is necessary for final certification. Click here for more information or send inquiries to Bruce Lowery on (03) 8541 7304, or email bruce@printnet.com.au

  • Industry farewells Bob Clarke

    Farewell Bob Clarke – local print sector stalwart, Paul Carthew, remembers the industry entity behind Clarke Murphy Print.

    It is with sadness that I advise the sudden passing of Bob Clarke on the 28th of January 2013, after a brave fight with Leukemia. He was 69.

    Bob had a prepress background and later held positions with Seligson & Clare in Sydney as sales executive and branch manager.

    When Heidelberg took over in the early 80’s Bob was a vital part of the team responsible for the integration of the Australian and New Zealand operations.

    After setting up the complete New Zealand operation Bob, Gail and the children moved to New Zealand with Bob taking up the position of general manager for several years.

    Bob returned to Sydney as NSW state manager for Heidelberg but decided he would like to have his own printing company, so he purchased Ace Printing in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood.

    Ace Printing would later merge with Murphy Print to form Clarke Murphy Print, today one of Sydney’s leading A2 and Digital print centres.

    Bob will be sadly missed by his family and his many friends in the printing industry.

  • Roland DG announces 2013 VersaWorks training dates

    Wide format manufacturer, Roland DG, is looking to top up its customers’ skill-set in the coming year, with the release of the dates for its 2013 VersaWorks Advanced training course schedule.

    Developed by experienced Roland print specialists, the VersaWorks Advanced training courses are designed to improve print quality, production processes, and overall commercial performance.

    Providing detailed lessons on how to use both the standard and advanced features of VersaWorks, the interactive courses will give users the tools and knowledge to take full advantage of the many capabilities of their Roland printer or printer/cutter.

    The full day course, run in seminar style with demonstrations will cover topics including:

    -Environment & calibration

     

    -Colour management

    -Managing and fine-tuning profiles

    -Advanced production techniques and tips

    -Workflow Automation

    It will also cover new features in the latest version of VersaWorks, including the built in PANTONE libraries and important maintenance that will help to extend the life of its customers’ Roland printers.

    The courses will run throughout Australia and will commence in Sydney and Melbourne, with dates for other areas to be confirmed and announced shortly.

    The dates are:

    -Tuesday 26 March – Sydney

    -Wednesday 1 May – Melbourne

    -Wednesday 26 June – Sydney

    -Thursday 8 August – Melbourne

    -Thursday 26 September – Sydney

    -Tuesday 19 November – Melbourne

    To register, or for more information on Roland DG Academy visit www.rolanddg.com.au/academy, click here, or contact Roland DG on (02) 9975 0000.

  • Harry Brelsford tells how to print less for the same money – Print21 magazine article

    The printing industry is beset by discounting and unrealistic pricing practices. But have you ever stopped to wonder what effect giving a discount is having on your bottom line? And what happens if you do the opposite for a change and put up your prices – what effect does that have? Keen to find out, Harry Brelsford sat down to do the calculations – and was shocked by the results.

    As business owners and managers we are constantly striving to increase, or even just make, a profit. And mostly we believe that growth, increased sales, is the path to prosperity. But achieving growth in a tight economy whilst our industry is simultaneously under fire is a tough call. We have cut expenses to the bone, increased efficiency, done just about everything in the book which leaves little room to move, so perhaps it is now time to think differently. What if we figured out a way to do less work and still make the same money?

    Have you ever wondered exactly what effect discounting your sales has on your business? Or what about the effects of raising your prices? I recently did an exercise in order to establish just how much discount we could give and still remain profitable. The result shocked me so I did an exercise to see what the effect of raising prices would be and was totally amazed.

    Here is a typical scenario that many of us go through daily. A new high-profile prospect who you know regularly purchases large amounts of printing calls for a quote. They want to consolidate their printing with a sole supplier, a printer who can meet all of their needs. They email a spreadsheet detailing their requirements; you can see that they know what they are doing, specifying paper weights, spot varnish and more. You know that price is going to be a major consideration. They are obviously shopping and your competition are just as hungry for the account as you are. Then there are the online printers who sell at ridiculously low prices. You want this new account because sales are down, another one of your regular customers recently went into receivership owing you money and you need more work to keep the wheels turning.

    You know you can meet this new prospect’s needs which includes both short-run digital as well as long-run offset printing, even large format which you recently got into. You have contacts who will assist with any overload. You have a great team, your service is the best, you know it all comes down to price. So the big question is, by how much do you reduce your prices: 5 per cent, 10 per cent, 20, maybe more?

    But what exactly are the implications when we bow to customer pricing pressure? When we do the numbers we may realise that we don’t really want the client. Then again what would happen if just once we stood our ground and raised our prices?

    Facts on pricing

    This may be a contrarian idea during these tough economic times but we were recently faced with the exact scenario as outlined above. As hard as it may seem, the key, I believe, is to step back and approach the pricing issue with a clear head and look at the facts when both lowering or raising prices.

    My question was, when we reduce our prices, how much additional work do we then have to take on in order to make the same dollar return to compensate for the discount given? The second calculation went in the other direction. I asked, how many customers could we afford to lose and still make the same dollar return should we increase our prices? The results will surprise you.

    I conducted a simple calculation (see box) to illustrate the effects and I am sure that when you see my figures and then work them out for yourself you will think twice before giving a discount when you are being pressured to lower your prices. It is scary how much extra work you have to take on in order to make up for any discounts you may give.

    I have seen all kinds of fuzzy logic used to justify discounting: “I can make it up on volume” or “I have achieved break-even so anything over that is a bonus” or “I had to discount that job in order to keep the customer’s other work” and “We would not have achieved the order had we not cut the price”. But I believe the real measure of how much you can afford to reduce your prices is based on the amount of profit that you show at the end of the year, your before-tax profitability. The reality is that every time you cut your prices, you have to increase your sales by a certain amount in order to maintain the same level of profitability.

    My first example is based on a printing business showing a profit of 10 per cent before tax. The industry average is much less, more often between 0 to 3 per cent profit but let’s go with 10 per cent for illustrative purposes. While my example refers to discounts across the board, I do realise that we only give discounts on a percentage of sales which I estimate at one quarter of all sales. My percentages are therefore based on one quarter of sales being discounted, and the amount by which the profit is reduced is likewise divided by four to show an across the board figure. This means that, say, a 10 per cent discount on one quarter of sales equates to 2.5 per cent across the board.

    The shocking truth.

    If you are showing a 10 per cent before tax profit and discount one quarter of your sales by just 10 per cent, then you need to increase your sales by 25 per cent in order to make up for the discount shortfall. Yes, you would need to do 25 per cent more work in order to make the same dollar return as before.

    Take it a step further: if you give a 20 per cent discount on a quarter of your sales (5 per cent across the board) then, based on my example, you would need to increase sales by 50 per cent in order to make the same dollar return. I want to clarify that my example is used to illustrate the principle that you have to sell a lot more printing when you discount, and that it does not take into account gross profit and fixed costs which have to be met. For an accurate calculation you would need to include all factors.

    Now if you want to see something really scary, let’s say your profitability is only 5 per cent before tax and you are regularly handing out 20 per cent or higher discounts. Do the maths and then I suggest you talk to your accountant as well as your lawyer sooner rather than later. If your profitability is in the 2 to 3 per cent range, which most printers are, then you don’t need a calculator to realise that you just can’t cut your prices, you need to raise them.

    The other side.

    But let’s look at the other side of this coin. You will see that the effects compound quite dramatically to the good. When you increase your prices by even a small percentage you can afford to lose some sales and still achieve the same dollar return. This means that when you raise your prices you can afford to lose a percentage of your customers, do less work and still make the same return.

    Again, if your before tax profitability is 10 per cent and you increase prices across the board by only 1 per cent, you can theoretically afford to lose 9 per cent of your customers and still make the same profit in actual dollar terms. Increase your prices across the board by just 2.5 per cent and, theoretically, your sales could decline by as much as 20 per cent and you can still achieve the same amount of profit dollars. Again my figures are to illustrate the principle and do not take into account gross profit margins and minimum fixed costs which still have to be met.

    The purpose of my illustration is to indicate that if you do raise prices by, say, just 2.5 per cent you could afford to lose around 20 per cent of your customers, but I believe it very unlikely that you would lose anywhere near this amount. This means your profitability would rise plus you would be doing less work because of the few customers that you do lose. If your before tax profitability is only 5 per cent then the same percentage increases as above are dramatically better.

    So why would you cut your prices? So that you can work harder for less money? That strategy is for your competition down the road.

    Start with the worst

    If you find my claims hard to believe then talk to your accountant and if you still lack the courage to stand your ground the next time a customer starts to pressure you on price then why not start with your worst customer. Start with the serial discount customer, the one who always uses your valuable time to dissect your quote to use against you, the one who changes their mind as you are about to go to print, who finds something wrong with the job after it has been printed but it will be just fine if you give them a discount, the one who upsets your staff after they have gone out of their way to help, the same one you have to call every week for the next three months just to get paid.

    Not only should you not give a discount, you should raise your prices to that customer. Raise them to a level where they either go elsewhere or if they stay because every other printer in town has shown them the door, then you do their work at a price where you have a smile on your face.

    If the discount customer moves on, well you were losing money on them at the lower price anyway which means that now you and your staff have more time to concentrate on your good customers, those who are appreciative of your good service, who are objective in what they want and prepared to pay a fair price for your time, quality and expertise, and who thank you and your staff for a job well done.

    Firing a discount or troublesome customer can be one of the best things a small business owner can do. It can do wonders for morale, you are no longer being kicked around and you are standing up for your staff. Remember, you reserve the right of admission to your business and you can set your prices to make a reasonable living on every job. I am not saying be rude or aggressive but you have the right to charge a reasonable fee for your services plus a difficulty fee for those more time-consuming jobs. Some call this a PIA fee.

    Raising prices for difficult work or difficult time-sapping customers will allow your business to run smoother and more profitably. Raise your prices, increase your profits and do less work. Duh!

    Bio: Harry Brelsford runs Varsity Graphics on the Gold Coast with his daughter and a young team enthusiastic about printing and design.


    Basis for discount calculation

    This is a basic calculation used to illustrate a point. It is used to indicate the effects of small changes to pricing and should not be extrapolated for larger discount or price increase percentages without including all factors. These figures should not be used to run your business.

    For ease of understanding I started with a sales figure of $100,000 showing 10 per cent pre-tax profit which equates to $10,000 in profit.

    If you discount one quarter of your $100,000 in sales by 10 per cent ($25,000 x 10 per cent) it is equivalent to a 2.5 per cent discount across the board. This comes off your bottom line so it is $2,500 in lost profit that you need to make up for giving the discount.

    At 10 per cent profitability, you would therefore need to produce another $25,000 in printing to make up for the $2,500 profit you gave away by discounting.

    If you are showing 5 per cent profitability on the $100,000 sales, you make a pre-tax profit of $5,000. If you discount one quarter of your $100,000 sales by 10 per cent ($25,000 x 10 per cent), it is equivalent to a 2.5 per cent discount across the board so you still need to make up $2,500 in lost profit for giving the discount.

    Because your profitability is only 5 per cent, you would need to produce another $50,000 in printing in order to make up for the $2,500 profit you gave away by discounting ($50,000 x 5 per cent = $2,500). This is obviously unrealistic but is an example to illustrate that you have to do a lot more work when you discount.

    If you are showing 3 per cent profitability on the $100,000 sales, you make a pre-tax profit of just $3,000. If you discount one quarter of your $100,000 sales by 10 per cent, you don’t need a calculator to realise that you are working for almost nothing.

    Again, remember that my simplified example is used to illustrate the principle and does not take into account gross profit and minimum fixed costs which have to be met. For an accurate calculation you would need to include all factors.

    Basis for price increase calculation

    Again, if you are showing 10 per cent profitability on sales of $100,000 it equates to $10,000 in profit. If you increase prices across the board by 1 per cent you are now making 11 per cent profit.

    To achieve the same $10,000 dollar return, you now only need sales of approximately $91,000. ($91,000 x 11 per cent = $10,010.)

    If you are showing 5 per cent profitability on sales of $100,000, it equates to $5,000 in profit. If you increase prices across the board by 1 per cent you are now making 6 per cent profit. To achieve the same $5,000 dollar return you now only need sales of approximately $84,000 ($84,000 x 6 per cent = $5,040).

    Again, my example is used to illustrate the principle that raising prices allows you to do less work for the same money. A complete calculation taking all factors into account will be required for an accurate result.

     

  • Issue 561 – 23 January 2013

    This week, CaxtonWeb workers fear they could miss out on years’ worth of redundancy pay when the company is merged into Blue Star Australia’s Webstar business. PMP embarks on a drive to shed its non-core businesses after the sale of its marketing services analytics business to Irish company, Experian, for US$6.5 million. And, Komori opens up about its decision to withdraw from UK trade show, Ipex 2014.

     

    Thanks for joining us again this week to catch up with the industry’s latest news and information. You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date. If you like this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free New Year subscription here.

     

    We like to keep the proverbial ear to the ground and stay in close touch with our tipster friends throughout the industry, so please continue to send your news and information to us at NEWS, or call us on 02 93563976. You can also follow us on Twitter for daily news updates.

  • How to deal with the printer’s ‘fiscal cliff’ – Richard Rasmussen’s Market Watch

    Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen investigates what local print businesses should do if they find themselves subject to the so-called printer’s ‘fiscal cliff’ of financial difficulty.

    25 per cent of Australian Printers are on – or will be on – the Financial Cliff in 2013. 

    We’ve all read about the US economy and the financial cliff they temporarily averted at the start of this year. The next step is the likelihood they will raise the debt ceiling, which hit US$16.4 trillion at the end of 2012.

    I wonder how many Australian printers have hit their debt ceiling (albeit hopefully a few zeros less that the US economy), and are contemplating raising their debt ceiling to pay the bills?

    My estimate is that 25 per cent of Australian printer’s businesses are on their own financial cliff – i.e. they are either in deep financial difficulty now or will be sometime in 2013.

    Whilst many may find this statement alarmist, I live in the real world; I see printer’s P & L statements on a week-to-week basis and work close to the core of these issues. Here are my supporting arguments:

    1.     Market Watch

    As many of you know I have been publishing Market Watch on a monthly basis since July 2011. This email bulletin details the market movements in our industry. It includes liquidations, auctions, closures, plant consolidations.  I counted 30 closures (forced or otherwise) in 2012 and 36 acquisitions. So there are 66 fewer printers in the market. Now, not all sales are caused because printers are on the financial cliff, but let’s say about half are. So you have around 50 that have fallen over due to financial difficulties during 2012.

    Try as I might to record all the data in Market Watch I think realistically I only capture about 25 per cent of the closures and purchases. This is mainly because I rely predominantly on the industry’s trade journals to report them. They do a good job, but miss out on many of the smaller, less public closures and sales. So that brings that number of closures and business sales due to financial difficulties, by my reckoning, to around 200. Depending on who you ask, there were about 2,000 printers in the Australian market, so that’s about 10 per cent who are no longer there due to financial stress.

    Add to that the number that who are trading under severe financial pressure, which let’s define as not being able to make a year-end profit, and/or have consistent major cash flow issues, and/or they have negative equity in their business, of another 15 per cent and you arrive at about my 25 per cent figure of those that have either closed, been bought out (due to financial pressure) or experienced severe financial pressure over 2012:

    Starting number of printers 1.1.12

    2,000

     
    New entrants (an educated guesstimate)

    50

     
    Business Closures (due to financial distress)

    -120

    (6% of starting number)
    Business Sales (due to financial distress)

    -80

    (4% of starting number)
    Business Sales (not financial stress related)

    -80

     
    Sum remaining

    1,770

     
    Of sum remaining those that experienced financial stress in 2012

    -300

    (15% of starting number)
    Not under financial stress during 2013

    1,470

     
     

     

     
    Total experiencing financial stress during 2012

    500

    (25% of starting number)

    Will the trend continue in 2103?

    Has the worst passed? I fear not, for a variety of reasons:

    1. The ATO is coming down hard on business – The amount of winding up notices in January for all businesses is substantial. Clearly there are many who are outside ATO payment terms.
    2. Banks are not lending the way they used to and are more prone to take a harder line of financially stressed businesses
    3. Different business models (web to print, print management, overseas, and digital for example) are continually eroding commercial printer’s market share.
    4. Ditto for different media – i.e. the web, email, social media, outdoor.
    5. The general economy
    6. Lack of competitiveness for many of those with obsolete machinery and systems
    7. The fact that many under financial stress and have been for a long period of time – sooner or later something has to give.
    8. Debtor days are being stretched

    So a conservative view is that another 25 per cent or 443 of the remaining printers will either go or be under severe financial pressure during 2013:

    Starting number of printers – 1.1.13

    1,770

     
    New entrants

    50

     
    Business Closures (due to financial distress)

    -106

    (6% of starting number)
    Business Sales (due to financial distress)

    -71

    (4% of starting number)
    Business Sales (not financial stress related)

    -71

     
    Sum remaining

    1,572

     
    Of sum remaining those that will experience financial stress during 2013

    266

    (15% of starting number)
    Not under financial stress during 2013

    1,306

     
         
    Total under financial stress during 2013

    443

    (25% of starting number)

    Now, I’m well aware that many will have different views. I readily concede there are a lot of assumptions in my data but think, based on what I record in Market Watch (to my knowledge the only record of closures in the industry), what I see as a business sales agent and consultant and the trends in the industry, and in the networks I have access to and work within, my estimates seem reasonable – 25 per cent are on the financial cliff.

    Consolidation, closure or turnaround for the 25 per cent on the Financial Cliff?

    I’d like to see fewer closures and more consolidation (business sales, mergers, affiliations). Closures are generally ugly for all concerned – creditors, families, employees, customers and the whole industry.

    Consolidations are far less so. Sales and acquisitions, mergers, and affiliations are far more appealing – they generally provide for greater value for the client base and possibly some machinery, a better outcome for the business owner, who often needs to be gainfully employed post closure, and a better outcome for employees, some of which will likely picked up by the consolidator.

    Once a firm enters administration, the goodwill (client base) value plummets. I don’t mean by 5 per cent or 10 per cent, I’m talking 75 per cent or 100 per cent of the value pre-administration.

    The reason for this loss of value is twofold – firstly, as every day goes by, clients walk, and the staff managing those clients walk. The perception of a purchaser’s ability to retain clients is severely diminished. Secondly in my experience the administrator’s focus is not on protecting client value.  It’s about analysis of the financials and quickly ascertaining if the business can be made viable.  The hard work required to quickly analyse the value of the client base, prepare a sales document, market it and sell it, is more than often neglected by administrators.

    So if you want to see value for your client base and perhaps some machinery, perhaps a better outcome for your employees is to consolidate your business with others or sell. Sell the client base/business before administration, and set yourself up to have a job with the purchasing/consolidating firm. This does not mean having to reduce the creditor’s return or running afoul of the law.

    The reason I think more don’t go down the consolidation path is they simply don’t know what their options are, don’t know how to go about it don’t know who to ask. They also probably don’t know what people should pay, the legal ramifications, what terms the deal should be done under or who is the best party to go to.

    Of course there are other major options to closure, and consolidation for those on the financial cliff is “turnaround”. As the name implies, “turnaround” involves changing the business into a business that is sustainable and profitable.   There are plenty of lessons to be learnt from those profitable businesses in the market, and many things to change to turn things around. Unfortunately, in my experience most do not chose this path, nor do they implement realistic strategies to make a turnaround come to fruition, or engage outsiders to help. Part of this I think is due to the age of the proprietor and their preparedness to make the investment in time and perhaps money to make it happen.

    If you’re in the ‘financial cliff’ 25 per cent category, here’s what you should do: 

    1.     Be objective and realistic and seek advice.  

    First thing to ask is could this be you in the 25 per cent category – are or expect to make a loss, and/or have consistent major cash flow issues, and/or have negative equity in the business? If you think we’re all doing it tough, you’re dead wrong. Some are doing it very well, and most will survive 2013 without these issues.

    What makes you think you are in the 75 per cent and not the 25 per cent? And if you don’t which one, then chances are, you’re in the ‘25 per cent financial cliff’ category.

    If you know you are in this 25 per cent category, or may enter this category in 2013, ask yourself, what am I doing to change and turn the business around?

    And if you decide to change – ask yourself what is the realistic chance of this happening? Has it ever happened before? Here’s where most will need objective eyes to review the business and its plans for 2013 – These independent eyes will provide a reality check.

    It is often very hard for business owners to be totally objective and realistic in the analysis of their business. So, in all likelihood you will need to seek advice and assistance. There are people that can help with specific industry knowledge, including Ascent Partners, in all states.

    2.     Be aware that all is not lost – know your options.

    There are alternatives to most financial cliff situations. But as stated before, you will likely need to engage someone to help you analyse your situation and provide options, and in some instances help you with implementing those options. Look and ask around for the best person/people to help you and your business.

    In all likelihood those people will include your accountant, but please understand they deal largely with historical data, and are not experts in turnaround work, nor are they best placed to know or advise all the consolidation and closure options that are available in our industry such as ours.

    After the analysis you may not like where you are at, but at least you’ll know, and be able to start to work on a turnaround or consolidation or closure plan.

    All is certainly not lost – there are opportunities to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in.

    The problem I find is that generally most generate limited options. This is largely because they don’t know what they don’t know. It doesn’t have to be a business closure, or an amalgamation or sale. There could be a whole range of options available to turn the business around.

    3.     Understand the real value lies in your client base.

    What are in demand right now are your clients. The vast majority of printers want more turnover.  What’s not of as much value within your business is your machinery. Of course there are some businesses that will sell ‘as is,’ as a going concern, but most purchasers want the sales and perhaps one or two pieces of equipment. That’s because most buyers are in the trade, and have their own underutilised equipment.

    So, purchasers and consolidators generally want clients, and they want the means to hold onto those clients.

    Anything you can do to provide that surety of client retention is highly valued, and more often than not that includes you as the vendor and client facing staff.

    4.     What’s the value of your clients?

    Don’t be concerned that your clients are worth nothing. They are, even if the business is in financial difficulties. Client values value widely. Appraisers need to consider many facets of the business including:

    • Type of business
    • Size of business
    • Client spread
    • Type of clients
    • Growth prospects of client
    • Profitability of clients – note a no profit business does not mean those clients will not produce a profit for the purchaser!!
    • Location of clients
    • Factors around client retention – i.e. Owner / employees coming across
    • If the business is in administration

    Putting your business into administration dramatically reduces the value of your clients – If you get to the stage of putting your firm into administration, you’ve lost your ability to get a fair value for you clients, much of your ability to be employed, and the opportunity to find homes for selected staff and machinery.

    5.     Do something!

    As a famous Australian Rule football coach Allan Jeans once said to his players – “Don’t think, do – do something.” What he’s really saying is that it’s fine to think something, but at the end of the day, you have to do something.

    For those on or near the brink of the Financial Cliff, thinking and doing nothing should not be an option.

    Summary

    Being in the 25 per cent of printers that I estimate are on the financial cliff is not a certain route to closure.  There are plenty of alternatives to consider. But consider and know of them, you must.

    If you haven’t been able to change the business around in the past, ask yourself, what’s going to change this year? Please get a reality check on your plans.

    Seek independent advice. Don’t try and do it all yourself. Knowing the breadth of options available to you is the key to being able to choose the best path to enable you to get the best return and provide the best opportunity for you and perhaps your employees in the future.

    Richard Rasmussen is the principal of Ascent Partners, a business focused on providing business sales and consultancy services to the Australian Printing Industry. Market Watch is a free monthly email bulletin – subscribe at www.ascentpartners.com.au 

  • RotaDyne takes over Angus Scott’s AceRoller & Rollmakers

    Giant US roller company, Rotation Dynamics Corp, will develop manufacturing facilities in Melbourne to service the Asian Pacific region following its buyout of the local roller businesses.

    RotaDyne is one of the worlds leading suppliers of rubber and hard coated rollers for the printing industry. Its arrival in Australia is a significant boost to industry infrastructure and export potential.

    According to Tom Gibson, president and CEO, RotaDyne, (pictured) the move is a springboard for further development in Australia and the region. “We are delighted to have Ace/Rollmakers join the RotaDyne team.  The printing industry in Australia and New Zealand has been an attractive market to us for quite some time.

    “RotaDyne is fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with Ace/Rollmakers to grow our business in Australia and to further expand into other industries and markets in the Asian Pacific region,” he said.

    A jubilant Angus Scott (below left) regards the deal as a major opportunity to develop the business and grow market share. “Ace is thrilled about the opportunity to join RotaDyne, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of rollers to the printing, packaging, plastics, metals, and paper industries.

    “Being part of the RotaDyne family gives our customers and, the market in general, the benefit of over 100 years of experience in manufacturing, quality management, and R&D expertise,” said Angus Scott, owner and managing director of Ace/Rollmakers.

    The Rotadyne initiative is set to transform Scott’s business into a major player in the printing industry. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The US-based company is a global operation with close connections to some of the leading press manufacturers, including Heidelberg and manroland. In Australia it will be taking on some of the more established players in the local market such as Brissett Rollers and Bottcher.

    RotaDyne intends to invest in additional equipment at Ace/Rollmakers manufacturing facility in Melbourne in order to support future growth of the business. As a major manufacturer it is one of the few international companies that can control all phases of manufacturing for the graphic arts roller business. Designing and manufacturing cores, custom mixing of elastomers, covering rollers, and delivery are all performed in-house at its facilities around the world.

    Headquartered in Darien, Illinois, RotaDyne is one of the largest manufacturers of printing rollers, rubber rollers, and related products for industrial and printing.  Since being founded in 1908, RotaDyne has grown into a company of more than 36 locations. It has manufacturing facilities across North America, Europe and Asia as well as South America. The addition of Melbourne is set to change the dynamics of the local supply industry.

     

     

  • Issue 560 – 16 January 2012

    Another week, another anti-paper and print campaign by a global technology company slammed as greenwash by the local industry, with Toshiba once again coming under fire along with internet giant Google. Also, Print21’s Andy McCourt takes a close look at private equity’s hidden agenda behind Blue Star’s sale. And, Print21 introduces industry expert, David L. Zwang, who looks at the importance of transformation and automating workflows, and how best to stay up to date with it all.

     

    Thanks for joining us again this week to catch up with the industry’s latest news and information. You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date. If you like this bulletin but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free New Year subscription here. Meanwhile, check out the top jobs on the right of this newsletter.

     

    We like to keep the proverbial ear to the ground and stay in close touch with our tipster friends throughout the industry, so please continue to send your news and information to us at NEWS, or call us on 02 93563976. You can also follow us on Twitter for daily news updates.

  • Private equity’s role in Blue Star break-up – Andy McCourt’s Reverb

    We’ve all seen the news – Blue Star Australia is back in the hands of Geoff and Paul Selig as Caxton Print Group, backed by Wolesley Private Equity, while across the ditch, it’s groundhog day for Tom Sturgess whose Tiri Group, backed by Mercury Capital, has acquired the NZ Blue Star operations. Andy McCourt (pictured) looks into the mysterious world of Private Equity funds and their decade of involvement in Australasian printing, and what the future may hold.

    A little over eight years ago, Print21 alerted the Australian Printing industry that “The Kiwis are Coming!”  Our Paul Revere moment foretold of New-Zealand-led raiding on long-established Australian printing businesses, starting with Merrit Madden (now inside Blue Star) and Graphic World (now inside GEON). The buyers were offering handsome leveraged buyout sums to ageing business owners with few or no succession ideas and ‘lazy balance sheets.’

    There were two progenitors of this activity and both had begun the roll-up of fragmented print businesses under one rationalized umbrella in New Zealand. Geoffrey Wilding’s Pacific Print Group, backed by ANZ Private Equity, had subsumed around seven NZ print businesses and Tom Sturgess, a director of Goldman Sachs JB Were PE (NZ) had rolled up the likes of Nicholson’s, McCollums and so forth, before striking out across the Tasman with the Merrit Madden buyout.

    These two were later followed by a third Kiwi-based PE fund; Knox Investment Partners who acquired Ligare Bookprinters and went on a buying spree of Southwood Press, Cactus Imaging, Omnigraphics, COS (Singapore), CanPrint and the reverse takeover of McPherson’s, which under the Opus Print Group banner delivered the only public listing of a PE-backed print group.

    Regrettably, since listing last April, the shares have bombed 88% from $1.76 to 21cents as of writing. Something must be worrying the market, not the least that Knox, as a foundation shareholder, immediately extracted $8.3 million from the float and Ligare co-founder Richard Celarc $2.5 million. In early January, up to $3.4 million of this was loaned back to Opus at 15 per cent interest; rising to 24 per cent should shareholders not approve its conversion to equity. Restructuring to reduce debt, with a focus on Asia, is underway according to CEO Cliff Brigstocke. Hopefully this will begin to restore shareholder value in what appears to be a well run print group.

    To cap it all off, Kiwi fund manager Maui Capital acquired paper merchants BJ Ball, Focus, Boomerang and CPI. The head of Maui is another ex-Goldman Sachs NZ man, Paul Chrystall.

    Private equity – a different kettle of fish

    The first thing I have learned about Private Equity Funding is that it is wheels within wheels, funds deal with funds, executives leave and start new PE ventures but still deal with their old employers and there is a significant sprinkling of Harvard MBAs and other highly qualified finance individuals whose job it is to generate significantly higher returns than can be earned at the bank, in government bonds, or on the stockmarket.

    The second thing I have learned is that everyday rules of accounting and legal corporate frameworks do not apply to PE funds. The accepted authority of accounting for PE funds, Mariya Stefanova, says in her seminal training work: “private equity accounting is unique and difficult to understand, at least at first, by accountants from outside of the asset class.”

    The third and most eye-opening lesson is that, by nature, the vast majority of PE funds are illiquid. They have little or no cash. They leverage small amounts of cash to gain massive results. Money comes in from ‘Limited Partner’ investors and this is used to buy businesses that can generate cash. Some PE funds are turn-around focused and invest in under-performing businesses to make them an attractive ‘exit’ following restructuring or IPO float. Others appear to use part of their portfolio as ‘cash cows’ – milking them for all they are worth and not caring what value is left at the exit point. NZ stockbroker Chris Lee has openly stated that Blue Star was ‘continuously milked for everything it had’ and ‘the brand was being destroyed instead of being saved and was directing cash flow to the directors and employees, while not honouring their obligations to bondholders.” Phew!

    Whatever the performance of component companies in a PE fund, the ultimate goal is to return a multiple on Limited Partners’ capital invested in the fund, generate fees for the PE management and ensure a healthy ‘carried interest’ capital gain, also for the fund managers or general partners. And this they do.

    Why New Zealand?

    Why did this phenomenon start in New Zealand? Well, a full possible explanation will be published in the February issue of Print21 magazine but one significant factor, apart from the recognized derring-do of Kiwi entrepreneurs, is that there is no capital gains tax there.

    The kicker is that the PE funds are allowed to class their ‘carry’ (proceeds from acquisitions) as capital gain and not income or profit to be taxed at corporate rates. Of course there are taxes on wages but most PE fund ‘Masters of the Universe’ would be unfortunate to pay taxes over 10 per cent of their total earnings.

    I can hear the screaming but this confession came from one of Europe’s leading PE fund Chairmen; Nicholas Ferguson formerly with SVG Private Equity (now has replaced James Murdoch as head of BskyB) who famously proclaimed in 2007, with genuine distaste, that he and other PE buyout barons: “pay less tax than a cleaning lady.”

    Let’s be clear, not all PE funds are run Gordon Gekko-style (film: Wall Street) by ‘barbarians’ (book: Barbarians at the Gate, about KKR’s hostile buyout of RJR Nabisco), and certainly not by the new hybrid PE + seasoned industry veterans back in the saddle at Blue Star; but PE does get very bad press all over the world.

    In Europe it has reached such a point that Vincenzo Morelli, a former head of the world’s largest PE/buyout firm TPG is now Chair of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and is busy trying to polish up the industry’s image.

    Morelli sounds like a wise man, saying: “The (PE) industry needs to recognize it’s now too big and too important to operate below the radar screen. It has to recognize that it needs a societal licence to operate, an implicit licence that accrues as a result of recognition by broader society. We need to be more open and more proactive.”

    Amen to that. Trying to get any meaningful statements, with one exception, from PE types is like breaking the code of Omerta. Many PE fund managers are quick to complain that they are ‘misunderstood’ and ‘doing an essential job in the economy,’ but offer nothing by way of transparency, disclosure or detail other than the great returns they have delivered to their LP investors. They proclaim that self-regulation is the answer to rogue elements and asset-strippers who trash companies and cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in un-repayable debt. Sure, and biker gangs can self-regulate too!

    It all started with printing

    The very first PE deal that rocketed the LBO (Leveraged Buyout) game to fame was for a printing company in the USA – Gibson Greetings. In 1982, a former US Treasury Secretary William Simon bought Gibson for US$80 million but only put up around US$1 million of his group’s own cash. 18 months later, Gibson floated for US$260 million and Simon trousered a rumoured US$66 million.

    In Australia and New Zealand, the decade of PE fund dominance of large print groups has not necessarily ended but it has entered a secondary market phase where smaller, more focused PE firms such as Mercury Capital and Wolesley PE, in partnership with highly capable former owners, the Seligs and Tom Sturgess, are set to turn around the businesses and run them for profit and growth and not as cash cows. Sure they have bought cheap – in Kerry Packer/Alan Bond mode – but their businesses were successful and profitable before they sold them.

    Sturgess’s Tiri Group (which he bought from the Hauruki PE fund #1 when it was exited by Goldman Sachs JB Were), comprises several industrial units including Masport (lawn mowers and foundry), Pacific Wallcoverings (wallpaper), NZ Insulators (electrical), RH Freeman (sheet metal), Rapid Labels and others. His strategy is to let existing management run the businesses with advice and finance always available if and when needed. The acquired Blue Star NZ operations should be no exceptions.

    Wilding’s original Pacific Print Group, which morphed into today’s GEON, operated under the same principle – separate businesses and brands managed under an umbrella financial entity. The subsequent aggregation, consolidation and single brand strategy appears not to have worked, with shareholder and brand value decimated. KKR and Allegro Capital are now the masters since they own the GEON debt – purchased at a distressed discount from Lloyd’s. What the future holds there depends on KKR and Allegro.

    Tom Sturgess told Print21: “I’m not an apologist for the PE industry.” Read into that what you will, but for Blue Star and GEON debt and/or bondholders, there seems to be a lot to apologise for from some other quarters.

    Andy McCourt’s full investigation into the ‘PE Decade of Print’ appears in the February issue of Print21 magazine with some startling revelations, plus a ‘where are they now?’ rundown of PE movers and shakers from the passing parade. Don’t miss it.

  • Hunkeler Innovation Days

    The Hunkeler Innovation days will be held for the tenth time at the Messe Lucerne exhibition facility. The growing internationalisation and enormous interest on the part of the supplier sector and visitors alike has prompted Hunkeler to extend this industry event from its previous four days to five days. Approximately 80 exhibitors will present their latest products in Hall 2 with its 7000 sq/m of floor space. And once again, a few of them will use the exclusive showcase of the Hunkeler Innovation Days for world premieres.

    For thousands of experts and decision-makers from around the world (more than 5000 in 2011), the Hunkeler Innovation Days have become an indispensable platform for gathering information. Visitors value the unique opportunity to meet in person with staff members from leading manufacturers of digital printing systems, with those developing software solutions as well as vendors of consumables and finishing materials. They are also able to make direct comparisons of a wide range of practical solution scenarios for transaction / transpromotional printing, print-on-demand (books and newspapers) and direct mail production.

    Integrated total solutions that address every aspect of the workflow and for every industry segment will be shown at the Hunkeler 2013 Innovation Days. Technical advances provide access to the economies and advantages of digital printing and finishing processes in an increasing number of segments and applications, including the printing of packaging. The first approaches to solving these problems started to appear at drupa 2012 in Düsseldorf, and specific solutions will be available for viewing from February 11 to 15 February, 2013, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

  • Richard Rasmussen’s Market Watch

    Now that the festivities of Christmas and the New Year have finally abated, Ascent Partners director and industry expert, Richard Rasmussen, looks back at the final big deals to pass through the marketplace in the lead up to 2013. 

    In Queensland, Fairfax was active in taking over Beaudesert Times and Jimbooba Times, and MBE Maroochydore purchased Queensland Complete.

    Computershare, via share purchase, took control over Digital Post Australia after buying out Fuji Xerox’s 40% shareholding.

    On the supplier side, Coverta Machinery was reported to have been liquidated in around 12 August. They were the local sales and service agents for machinery including Brausse diecutters and folding box gluers.

    German finishing equipment supplier, Mathius Bauerle (MB), was rescued by an internal buyout and unnamed investors.

    Kodak has received a joint bid of US $500 million from Apple and Google on their digital imaging patent portfolio on the market.

    Machinery Sales and Installations.

    Over in the West, Jay Pack has recently installed a K&B 106 Rapida six colour plus double coater (Aug 12) and Bobst Folding Box Gluer (June 12), whilst in Melbourne Madman installed a Heidelberg CD 74 six colour.

    Other installations reported in Dec 12 were:

    • Geon – EFI Vutek GS 3250 LX
    • The Barrier Daily Truth(NSW)  – G&J i CtP A1
    • Mircha Print (QLD) – Epson 7900 CtP
    • SOS (NSW) – Ricoh C901 Digital Printer

    Further details of the above market movements and installations, can be found on the Market Wage page of Ascent Partners web site, www.ascentpartners.com.au

    Businesses for Sale / Businesses Wanted

    Ascent Partners has five businesses on the market and are actively seeking others to meet demand in numerous graphic arts segments. See www.ascentparnters.com.au

  • Healey backs Holmesglen TAFE training plan

    Industry chief describes the proposed Victorian TAFE school, now identified as Melbourne’s Holmesglen,  as the most economically responsible way to deliver institutional training for printing apprentices.

    Bill Healey, CEO of Printing Industries, gave his backing ahead of a pivotal meeting between the college, the Industry Action Group and himself on Monday.  The meeting was to decide the fate of the proposal to establish a new facility to train apprentices away from their job locations. Other proposals from the Victorian Government would have involved Printing Industries investing millions in establishing stand-alone training sites.

    Holmesglen Chadstone Campus

    “My concern has always been to ensure the Association is protected from major costs in providing off site training. The Holmesglen proposal meets the needs of those in the industry that want a central training site without exposing the industry to excessive costs,” he said.

    The TAFE proposal is one of a number of industry training initiatives being progressed by Printing Industries. The development of its own RTO (registered training organisation) will see it compete with other industry players for on-the-job training throughout Australia.

    “We’re also close to finalising a million dollar Government scheme to reinvigorate apprenticeship training. This will have far-reaching effects on the industry as a whole,” he said.

    He said the industry needs to move with the times and that the Association is committed to playing a leading role in the provision of training across the country.

    Roy Aldrich, a member of the Industry Action Committee and a firm advocate for the establishment of a central training facility,was confident the Monday meeting will confirm the new apprentice training scheme. He said the agreement was secure and will usher in a new era in printing apprenticeship training across Victoria and Tasmania, and possibly throughout the nation.

    “We need this style of training to equip our young apprentices with all the skills they’ll need in the future. Everyone I’ve spoken with in the industry wants this to happen,” he said.

    No news on the outcome of the meeting was available at time of going to press.