Archive for March, 2014

  • Kwik Kopy picks up two Vic stores from liquidation

    The franchise moves swiftly to limit damage following the failure of the Fitzroy and St Kilda stores last week. David Bell, CEO Kwik Kopy affirms his belief in the ongoing viability of the businesses.

    The stores went into liquidation when the owners, the Lindley family, called in the administrators, Olympus Forge earlier in the week. The family had operated the Kwik Kopy Centres for a number of years.

    “We are confident that these are good businesses and they have the backing of a strong team dedicated to their success,” said Bell. “They are both profitable and we will recapitalise them before offering them for sale. We will continue to provide the highest level of service to all customers and the full range of Kwik Kopy products and services is available.”

    David Bell CEO Kwik Kopy

    According to Bell, it is a case of the owners making some bad business decisions, including buying an iGen against the advice of the franchise while racking up considerable debt.  They join six or seven such failed stores over the past decade where in the majority of cases there was nothing wrong with the actual business.

    “People do things against our advice, they carry too much debt. If you are earning say $100  a week but paying out $150 in interest and capital repayments then something has to give. In the majority of cases the businesses went on to become very very profitable.”

    He points to the success of the Bondi Junction Kwik Kopy store that went into liquidation last year only to reemerge as a successful go-ahead operation. “It is now on the top of the ladder in our growth league, a terrific result for everyone. We have a store that’s growing while he has a successful business,” said Bell.

    Another store rescued from liquidation was the Kwik Kopy Central City, bought by Philip Joel who rebranded his existing Elizabeth Street Printer’s Devil store to go on and successfully integrate the two businesses. “He is a printer of great ability and while he learns from u we also learn a lot from him,” said Bell.

    Every year approximately ten per cent of Kwik Kopy franchises are for sale. At present there are three listed on its home page for Victoria, Tasmania and Brisbane. None for New South Wales. “We can’t get enough stores to satisfy the demand,” said Bell.



  • $700 million merger of Blue Star & IPMG is set to create a mega printing business

    Australia’s largest printing company will emerge from the marriage between the printing operations of the Hannan and Selig family businesses. The two companies with facilities all along the east coast are set to merge by the end of May.

    According to Geoff Selig, managing director of Blue Star, the merger will see a new company owned 50/50 between the two groups. “There’s been a lot of sector consolidation and structural change in recent times and at various levels. We feel the combination of IPMG and Blue Star ticks the boxes at all levels. They are very strong family businesses that are highly complementary. The new business will have a diversity of offering unparralled in the industry.”

    The combined business will retain a place for the leadership of both companies, if they want to remain. However according to Selig, there is a lot of hard work to be done in working out how the businesses will operate.

    “The combination… ticks the boxes at all levels,” Geoff Selig, CEO Blue star

    “It is a powerful combination. We have a very strong balance sheet and a very strong culture that will enable us to invest in new equipment and buy well. It’s good for our clients who will have a strong reliable partner that is not going to go away. This will give them a lot of comfort,” he said.

    Both Blue Star and IPMG are financially strong companies with minimal debt, according to Michael Hannan, Chief Exec IPMG.  “The Hannan family is genuinely excited to be affiliating its printing operations with Blue Star to lead meaningful industry consolidation which will benefit both the industry in general and our customers” said Hannan.

    The merger comes hot on the heels of IPMG moving out of its Alexandria factory into the new Warwick Farm plant and while it is early days with the merger yet to complete, there is little doubt the new business will be looking for efficiencies from its various facilities across Sydney and Melbourne. According to Selig, it is business as usual for the two companies with no decisions yet but he emphasized the operations are complementary rather than competitive.

    “It’s going to take us a while to get our heads around it all but I can assure you we will keep our customers, staff and the industry informed at the appropriate time about the changes,” he said.

    The creation of the new company will see PMP retired to second largest printing company in the region with considerably less diversity in its market offerings. Blue Star and IPMG both have a solid mix of sheetfed and web presses with facilities from Brisbane to Melbourne. There is undoubted duplication of presses and capacity in some locations but between them the two have perhaps the most diverse range of equipment in the industry.

    Although IPMG is notionally the larger of the two partners, the decision to split the new business evenly between the two organizations will ensure stability in management and staffing i.e. it is a true merger not a disguised takeover.


  • Ipex 2014 Farewell – Celebrating the London show at Print21 ANZ party

    Andrew Price and Andy Vels Jensen, the well-known Aussie PaperlinX UK management duo, were among the guests at the Print21 Australian & New Zealand party near the end of the London show.

    While the turnout for the event was not up to the levels of previous Print21 Ipex barbeques, around 40 industry types turned up to celebrate the survival of the show. Once into the snug warmth of the Fox Connaught, a typical British pub in the East End of London, the visitors thawed out from the chilly March weather with the help of lots of good ale and warm food.
    They were welcomed to the party by bush balladeer and entertainer extraordinary, Lee Hernia. Due perhaps to the presence of Joan Grace and Ruth Clark he kept the jokes only slightly indigo.

    Trevor Crawford, organiser of Ipex, came along and in a speech thanked the Australians and New Zealanders for their support of the show. He recognised the commitment of those who travelled to London this time without the usual support of industry suppliers.

    Andrew Price, who took the time off from his Herculean labours at the Augean Stables that is the largest paper merchant in the world to spend some time among the Downunder accents, thanked the industry for its support. Andy Vels Jensen, MD of PaperlinX UK, the former honcho of Heidelberg Australia & NZ also made an appearance and mingled with some of his erstwhile customers.

    PaperlinX was the Gold Sponsor of the event backed by Screen Australia and Konica Minolta. Overall the visitors were pleased with the substance of Ipex while aknowledging its diminished stature. As they rugged up and prepared to face the bitter East Wind blowing up the Thames, most were prepared to make the trip again in 2018.


  • The IPEX Investigator – Part 2

    With thanks to the reader who suggested that the Ipex Investigator should ‘get with the times’ the abbreviation moniker shall henceforth be iI as in iPad, iPhone and ieverythingelse.

    That old trade show buzz was evident for much of Ipex, especially in the World Print Summit session featuring moderator Frank Romano, Benny Landa and EFI’s Guy Gecht. The 300-seat theatre was standing room only ten minutes before the start. EFI and Landa appear to be moving closer since the announcement that  Gecht’s company will develop the DFE for Landa’s Nanographic presses. Like two buddies in a ‘bromance movie, each joked that the other was to blame for the delayed release of the revolutionary presses first shown at Drupa 2012.

    It was a class act themed: “Print: Doomed or on the Verge of a new Digital Renaissance?” Needless to say, both parties were very bullish about print’s brave new future, with the good Professor in violent agreement from the chair.

    Primarily, trade shows are about trade and there have been some good announcements of deals sealed at the show – and the Dorothy Dix deals signed before with the show equipment headed to the customer post-Ipex. Fujifilm has shifted its show Jetpress 720 B2 digital press to The Netherlands HuigHaverlag, a 100-strong outfit with both offset and digital. The Komori G40 five-colour with HUV inks is sporting a sold sticker in the Eco Zone while Hans Gohni has sold on most of its offset presses. Scodix has taken its 100th order for the fantastic S75 digital embellisher, sold by Curries in Australia.

    Screen announced its first European sale for the Truepress Jet L350UV digital label press, to Hull, UK printer Springfield Solutions and there was even an off-the stand sale of a Xerox iGen 150. Hang on, you say to the iI; Xerox is not at the show! Correct but its largest UK dealer Xeretec is and it was them that took the order. Goes to show, the only way you are going to sell something at a market is to hire a market stall – absentee exhibitors take note. You can hold as many open houses as you like but they will never be a substitute for a well-organised trade fair. Sure, open days, user groups and award clubs are a valuable part of the marketing mix but they are not a replacement for participation at major industry shows.

    During the show iI try to catch up with Australian technology with the Rapid X1 and X2 digital label presses and D2 finisher on the Impression Technology Europe stand. I say ‘try’ because every time I tried to engage the stand folk in conversation, they were dragged away by an inquisitive customer – the interest levels were that high. I’ll have another go today.

    It was a pleasure to run into Matthew Benn from FAB Equipment on the Watkiss Automation stand. He’s pictured in the photoblog with Sales Director Paul Attew in front of the new Watkiss PowerSquare 244 binder, the only binder that can deliver square-back books using staples, not hot melt or PUR. It folds, forms the spine, staples and trims all in one unit and can handle up to 200 typical pages.

    Finishing for digital is big at Ipex and the Morgana stand was a hive of activity on day 2. The iI caught up with Andy Cooper from Morgana and he reported brisk business on the stand, and a probable return to Australia soon.

    Looking at how Ipex 2014 is going and the move to London, I can’t help but wonder if the big, long 2-Hall concept works for shows like this. What I see is the central corridor that divides the north and south halls full of people in the coffee shops and bars – well away from the exhibitors themselves. The pillarless 2 halls are cavernous and you get the feeling of being in an aircraft hangar. I have to say, there are some messy areas at the edges that just don’t look right. With Ipex at the NEC and with Dűsseldorf’s Drupa, the multi-hall concept creates clusters of interest and village-like gatherings around Bratwurst stalls for example. With everything strung out as it is at the ExCeL; I’m not convinced it’s a better layout than the NEC and it lacks focus.

    Having said that, the show IS in London and the great city does not disappoint, with superb public transport to and from the exhibition, wonderful food and pubs, super friendly people top notch entertainment. I note the organisers put out the attendance figures for the show. At 22,768, which includes 3,532 exhibitors, with a geographical visitor split of 54% UK and 46% international, it’s not too bad. Trevor Crawford, director, says the show is the blueprint for the future of print centric events. He could very well be right, because I don’t think drupa will escape the reshuffle.

    The other good news is that Birmingham City won 2-3 away at Milwall, just a stone’s throw away from Ipex in ‘Sarf Bermondsey.’ It looks like they will avoid relegation now and all we need is for West Ham to beat Hull tonight at nearby Upton Park, and all is well with the world.


    Picture 1 of 11

    Full house at the World Print Summit

  • Ipex 2014 – No launch date for Benny Landa’s nanography press

    Despite assurances from the pioneer of digital printing that R&D is going well on his new revolutionary printing system, Landa was unable to promise a delivery date during the Ipex Print Summit.

    Prodded by emeritus grise (sic), Frank Romano, during a session he shared with Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI, Landa hedged his bets, declaring he did not want to repeat the mistakes made with the Indigo by releasing the nanographic press before it is ready. He joked that the cause of the delay was in waiting for the specially designed Fiery RIP from EFI, a suggestion immediately rebuffed by Gecht who confirmed the hold up was with the other party.
    Beta testing of the Landa press will now start later this year at undisclosed locations in Europe and the USA. Landa has already missed the beta testing deadline he made at drupa 2012 for the first presses to be in the field by late last year. Technology partner Komori, which is making the press superstructure and paper handling equipment, is predicting its own branded version will be ready in September 2015.

    Playing to a packed house (left to right) Guy Gecht, Frank Romano and Benny Landa at Ipex Print Summit.

    Benny Landa’s appearance at the Print Summit in London played to a standing room audience, confirming his position as the printing industry’s ‘superstar.’ Reading from a prepared presentation he expanded on the role of nanotechnology, not only in the printing industry but in other fields such as energy creation. He confirmed that the nanopress development is focused on producing a machine for the packaging industry as the publishing and information sectors come under increasing threat. New sectors such as industrial printing that print was poised for a renaissance with new technology

    “Unlike publishing, most commercial print and packaging apps can simply not be replaced by digital media,” said Landa, in a pragmatic twist to his famous dictum that anything that can go digital, will go digital.

    Sharing the stage, the EFI CEO, Guy Gecht, concentrated on what he saw as the unique feature of the printing industry, its predominence by family-owned companies, often for many generations. “What other industry has businesses that are passed on like this?” he asked.

    Gecht’s take on the situation is that while print volumes will continue to decline, the work that remains, such a variable data print and personalised direct mail, will be worth more. “We have to realise that in five to ten years from now, there may be less print, but what is left will be higher in value,” he said. “The success of these businesses lies mostly with those where a significant part uses digital technology, and there is a definite shift from very long runs to tailored, on-demand jobs with VDP.”

  • Ricoh invests in the west with 5 Star Green Star hub

    Smithfield MP Andrew Rohan cuts the ribbon for Ricoh’s new 5 Star Green Star distribution centre at Eastern Creek, Sydney. The company’s new premises are the first in NSW to be awarded the coveted 5 Star Green Star environmental standard, and houses the digital printing technology giant’s warehousing, technical and customer support, spare parts and national training and run-up centre.

    Over a year and a half in the making the brand new distribution centre stands as a testament to Ricoh’s ongoing commitment to carbon neutral operations. Les Richardson, Ricoh Australia managing director, extended his thanks to MP Andrew Rohan and partners and site owners Jacfin, represented by Jackie, Priscilla and Ray Waterhouse. According to Richardson the green credentials of the building are only a part of the success story.

    Les Richardson (Ricoh, managing director) and MP Andrew Rohan cut the ribbon in Eastern Creek

    “We needed a single home for all our technical and logistical functions. Many long-term Ricoh staff have transferred to this facility, but more importantly we’ve been able to recruit from local community. There is a tremendous talent pool out here in the western suburbs,” said Richardson.

    As he joined Richardson to snip the ribbon, Smithfield MP Andrew Rohan extended his thanks and congratulations to the team at Ricoh for their remarkable achievement.

    “I also want to thank you for investing in western Sydney. This is the future of Sydney and NSW, where there will be more than one million people in the next twenty years. We are working hard to create jobs and opportunities with companies like Ricoh, and this magnificent building project,” said Rohan.

    The state-of-the-art facility is built on environmentally sustainable features from the ground up, including a energy-efficient lighting designs, rainwater collection and metering and monitoring. The rainwater collection and reuse system alone is expected to save more than 12,000 litres of water a week, a staggering 49% reduction in consumption. In fact, the project scored a perfect ten points in the 5 Star Green Star rating’s water category, including a xeriscape garden of drought resistant natives.

    The site’s foyer houses in-depth environmental displays detailing live updates on the building’s energy, water and rainwater usage, allowing staff and visitors alike to check comparisons to targets and previous performance periods. The building is home to Ricoh Australia’s warhousing and spare parts, its national customer response centre, technical support, training centre, run-up centre and equipment workshops.

    Ray Waterhouse, representing Jacfin, presented Richardson with its 5 Star Green Star accreditation, officially acknowledging it as the first distribution facility in NSW to be awarded the distinction.

    “Jacfin are very proud to be associated with Ricoh and look forward to standing with you as partners for decades to come,” said Waterhouse.

    Ray Waterhouse (Jacfin) presents Les Richardson (Ricoh) with its 5 Star Green Star certification
  • Currie roadshow cranks it up a gear

    The inimitable Currie mobile showroom fills up its tanks as it enters the third leg of its epic technology road trip. After Albury’s turn-out marked a great start to the tour, the truck pulled up to the heart of Bendigo for another busy couple of days catching up with customers and getting hands-on with the latest equipment.

    The iconic Currie ‘tour bus’ popped its expander and opened the doors to greet the Bendigo crowds, rubbing shoulders to get one-on-one with some of the new kit on show. The day saw a steady stream of local printers and business owners through showroom, eying stand-outs like the Horizon BQ-280PUR and an HP Indigo 3550. Among them was Steve Bright, founder and director of Bendigo’s own bARt n’ PRINt.

    “I think it’s great they acknowledge us in the regional areas. The first we heard of it was when they sent out an invitation saying the the truck was coming to Bendigo. It was a lovely surprise. It’s jam-packed with technology, stuff you don’t normally get to see,” said Bright.

    A printer for life, Bright set up bART n’ PRINt in his back shed in 1977 with a Heidelberg platen and a GTO 52 and has grown the business steadily since then. He now employs a team of 15 and runs a strong line-up of Horizon finishing. A Currie customer for many years now Bright was impressed by the range gear on display and praised the team’s dedication to go that extra mile.

    Bright adds, “With times as they are everyone’s getting down and working a little bit harder, and bringing the truck out on the road the Currie guys are doing just that. It was really interesting to see the managing director [Bernie Robinson] out here with them. That’s a big thing, for him to take the time to come out here himself. He actually swung by our place this morning too, just to catch up with us and see how we were doing. I’m still a firm believer in the face to face, you really can’t beat it.”

    Steve Bright (bARt n' PRINt) and Bernie Robinson, managing director, Currie Group

    Bernie Robinson, managing director, Currie Group agrees that the personal touch makes all the difference, and takes a great satisfaction in manning the iconic Currie truck himself.

    “I’d say interest has been pretty evenly spread. Everyone who’s come through has been interested in all the products we have on the truck, and hopefully they’ve found something new. That’s the whole point of the tour, that’s why we’re out here, to get out there with the customers and show them what’s new,” said Robinson.

    With Albury and Bendigo done and dusted, the Currie Roadshow now heads into its third leg. The truck is restocked, fueled and bound for Adelaide before hitting the dusty track across Nallarbor crossing the finish line in Perth on April 29.

    On April 1 and 2 Adelaidians can meet the tour at West Adelaide Football Club, 57 Milner Road, Richmond, SA, where they’ll be treated to an HP Indigo 3550, Horizon Creaser / Folder CRF – 362, Horizon Folder AFC – 564A, Horizon Perfect Binder BQ – 280PUR, Horizon Finishing Line SPF – 200L / FC – 200L / VAC – 1000A, Horizon Table Top Folder PF – 40 and a CRON Thermal CTP System.

    Click here to register.

  • The IPEX Investigator – Part 1

    Well, you had the Drupa Snooper in 2012, so why not the “Ipex Investigator?” Gumshoeing the halls and aisles of London’s ExCeL centre cunningly  disguised as a city banker, the Ipex Investigator, or “II” for short, is on the case and relays the feel of Ipex after the end of the first day.

    First days of any trade show are no portenders of how the overall show will go and for the press, it is usually filled with conferences and media scrums. There can be no denying that the absence of big exhibitors such as Heidelberg, HP, Canon, Xerox (although a UK Xerox reseller is present), Kodak, Agfa, KBA, Ricoh, manroland and Landa (although CEO Benny Landa is speaking at the World Print Summit) – has impacted on the look and feel of the show, but it’s still got that trade show vibe about it and the throng queuing up before opening time was quite sizeable. Dissipated across two huge halls, first day numbers appeared well down but this is not unusual for any trade fair.

    However, not all ‘big’ names have stayed away and nowhere is this more apparent than with the level of commitment shown by Konica Minolta – the only one of the “big four” production cut-sheet suppliers with a presence at Ipex 2014.  KM has by far the largest stand and General Manager, CP Business Division Toshitaka Uemura together with Inkjet Divisional Director Akiyoshi Ohno had good reasons to smile as GM of Marketing Olaf Lorenz read out claimed market shares: 54% of total production digital print machines-in-the-field in Western Europe and a staggering 65% of MIF in Eastern Europe.

    On a worldwide scale, KM is on track to have a market share of 50% in production digital print installations by the time Drupa comes around in 2016. This is from a company that before 2000 was struggling with the decline in silver-halide based photographic imaging, cameras, photofinishing, graphic arts film and plates. With its forays into the B2+ inkjet press jointly developed with Komori, the KM-1 due next year; digital labels, digital textile printing, KM’s own printheads and inks; it would be no surprise if this company will be the largest exhibitor at Drupa 2016 as well.

    Resisting the tide of withdrawals from Ipex – which included the show’s former president from Canon – KM has shown true mettle and determination to be number one. It’s product portfolio is expanding, it has strengthened the partnership with MGI, delivering finishing and coating offerings to the range and is totally committed to seizing the lion’s share of the world’s 92.3% of printing that is not currently digital.  A tip of the bowler hat to KM!

    Across in the South hall is another Japanese giant that has stuck with Ipex; the show’s second largest exhibitor Fujifilm. While there is no A3 productioin digital here; there is the new version of the JetPress 720 B2 inkjet press and the 540W web machine. While II has not yet worked every square metre of the Fujifilm stand, of significant interest if the FFEI Graphium digital label press on display. FFEI stands for Fujifilm Electronic Imaging and was spun-off as an independent company from the old Crosfield company in Hemel Hempstead, which Fujifilm acquired in the 1990s. The Graphium is the result of years of R&D and a little trial and error. It now looks like a contender in the burgeoning digital label press market and, with a 410mm web width, is the widest so far available. The interesting thing is, while it is a 6-colour digital narrow web press, FFEI has teamed with Edale to add flexo and other stations for coating, special effects, embossing and eventually cold foil. The final slitting and rewinding is from ABG, already market leader in digital label finishing systems. Will we see the Graphium in Australia? Who knows but it was creating quite a stir in London.

    Continuing the Japanese feel at Ipex – I can count on one hand the number of German exhibitors and none of the ‘majors’ – Dainippon Screen is there in force with one of only two high volume digial inkjet presses working, a dual engine Truepress Jet 520 and, on a second stand, the new Truepress Jet 3200UV flatbed machine which, amongst other jobs, was producing the best lenticular printing I have seen – at 65 square metres per hour. Lenticular has been around for a while in varying degrees of success but always slow and sometimes not convincing. The Screen lenticular option brings high-volume top-notch lenticular displays to a volume market that the advertising agencies will love. The W3200UV is also of course a fast regular flatbed UV printer with photographic quality results for close-viewed POP and other signage, at up to 85 m2 per hour.

    Back on the main Screen stand, two pairs of Australian boots are on the ground with Keith Atherton and James Haisman welcoming ANZ visitors and also celebrating the L350UV label press, for which I am assured orders have been taken.

    Well that’s a taste of the first day and there are 5 days to go plus the Great Ipex ANZ Party on Thursday.

    It’s bitterly cold for a Sydneysider but the sun is out and II is not getting wet. Not on the outside anyway. Time for one of those outstanding British real ales and some bangers and mash. While I’m off doing the Lambeth Walk, here are a few photoblog pics to whet your own appetites.


    Picture 1 of 10

    North and South - ExCeL is divided up the middle between two massive halls


  • IPEX 2014 – Konica Minolta dominates first day of resilient London show

    Japanese digital manufacturer cites level of commitment to the printing industry as the motive behind its major presence at the challenged IPEX show. Support for the industry as well as for its UK customers sees the company emerge as the largest exhibitor in the Excel space as well as being the subject of most news reporting for its new product range.

    According to Olaf Lorenz, European director, Konica Minolta is well pleased with the response to its decision to swim against the tide of cancellations by other major suppliers to the industry. He said that its presence clearly demonstrates its commitment to the commercial printing and graphic arts industry.

    The cold clear weather on Monday morning saw a good turnout of industry types at the opening of the trade show that many wondered would survive. The much-diminished exhibition space had a sometimes makeshift sense to it but it provides an easy and comfortable show that has a solid UK supplier and agency feel.

    Among a multitude of paper handling equipment companies, digital suppliers such as EFI, Epson and Xeikon and Fujifilm stood out. The organisers are predicting that the numbers attending will grow as the week progresses.

    George Fryer, Konica Minolta (right) welcomes David Kegen, CMYK Colour Online to the KM stand at IPEX.

    At the Konica Minolta press conference to a packed media room, the company claimed number one position in mid-production colour print systems in Euope. It said its ambition now is to be leader in print volumes too.

    According to Lorenz, the European offset printing market is 107 billion Euro with digital only accounting for 7.7 billion of that. “ The potential is huge. Digital’s share of total output is a mere fiver per cent today, but the scope for digital printing is increasing by the day, as is demand,” he said.

    Much attention was focused on the progress of Konica Minolta’s upcoming KM-1 B2+ sheetfed UV colour digital inkjet press. The UV inkjet press enables printing on coated or uncoated paper including standard offset paper without any pre-coating. With a sheet size of 585 x 750 mm the press is likely to have a major impact on short-run commercial work. The KM-1 is expected to be in beta sites this year with a full launch at the end of 2015.

    More immediately, IPEX sees the debut of the new Konica Minolta colour flagship, the bizhub PRESS C1100, as well as the bizhub PRESS C1060/2070 and the bizhub PRESS 2250P mono press. On a booth dedicated to showcasing business applications label and packaging solutions give a direction to Konica Minolta’s ambition to be across most of the commercial production printing world.

  • IPEX 2014 – Agfa wins MGI digital printing and embellishment for ANZ

    French-based digital graphic technology business opens new distribution channel to the local market after its Ferrostaal cooperation ends. Agfa Australia has already sent two of its engineers to France to be trained in the servicing of MGI’s digital varnishing and finishing equipment in a move that represents a significant product addition for the plate supplier.

    The MGI range of digital embellishers with four new product announcements at IPEX, is up against Scodix digital embellishers sold here by Currie Group.

    The development is likely to see more activity in the growing digital finishing market as more printers see the benefit in adding varnishing and foiling value to the printed output. The deployment of digital finishing completes the production of print through digital technology.

    Kevin Abergel MGI with iFoil production

    The publicly listed MGI, originally owned by the three Abergel brothers, is expanding its range of equipment to include digital hot foil embossing as well as a 3D option for its Jet Varnish machine. An upgrade to its core graphic printing product, the Meteor DP 8700 XL+, will be launched this year using a new 1200mm format allowing the printing of up to six A4 sheets along with the capacity to process carton and card up to 400 gsm (300 gsm duplex).

    Other new products launched at IPEX include the DF Pro, an inline finishing line that is rated faster than the Meteor printing engine; the iFoil that brings high-end embellishment to inline digital print finishing; the Jet Varnish 3D Evolution T with options to increase the number of rows of inkjet heads to allow up to 300 micron imaging in one pass and the Jet Varnish 3D Barcode Reader.

    Konica Minolta executives were a significant presence at MGI’s IPEX press conference, underlining the strategic agreement between the two companies signed earlier this year when the Japanese manufacturer took up ten percent of MGI stock. Despite the agreement specifying cooperation in development, marketing and distribution in selected markets, Agfa represented a  better fit for the Australian and New Zealand markets.
    According to Michael Abergel, managing director, (home page) the two companies already work together in Switzerland. He believes Agfa’s access to a wide range of commercial printers through its plate distribution will give it a better market position.

    The Konica MInolta deal will involve the development of such product as printed electronics following on from MGI’s acquisition in 2012 of industrial print development company, Ceradrop.

  • Heidelberg points finger at Kodak

    Heidelberg bites back as Kodak walks away from its five-year exclusive plate partnership in Australia and New Zealand. Heidelberg was sent its marching orders in January, but claims the split has been on the cards for some time and points the finger at Kodak “product issues” losing business for the German offset press manufacturer.

    In a statement Richard Timson, Heidelberg managing director, said, “Kodak were aware that over the last few years after entering into chapter 11 there were a number of product issues, causing concern to Heidelberg’s customers and for Heidelberg a significant degree of frustration and ultimate loss of custom.”

    Timson goes on to say that conversations were already underway with Fujifilm in 2013. Upon receipt of Kodak’s termination notice Heidelberg opted to progress these arrangements ultimately signing the new distributor agreement in February 2014.

    “We are delighted to be partnering with Fujfilm in the best interests of our customers and look forward to transitioning our clients to the Fujifilm plate products after July 1. We have a very loyal customer base that experience the day to day support only Heidelberg can give. Many clients have indicated that they will stay with us, after all we have a full solution to offer customers, not only top performing Fuji plates but a full range across all consumables and equipment,” said Timson.

    In the Kodak camp, managing director Steve Venn maintains that move will make the graphics company’s offset plate business more competitive. According to Venn, Kodak is already actively engaged with its customers with good numbers signing new direct contracts.

    Venn also highlights the value of an end-to-end solution, saying, “Bringing distribution back in-house for our sheet-fed offset customers allows us to maximise the opportunities to provide total solutions that span the production gamut, from printing and workflow solutions, to hybrid printing options and colour management. We already work very successfully with our web customers in this capacity so it makes good business sense to do the same with the sheet-fed segment.”

    It remains to be seen how many will brave the transition, now the second major plate change Heidelberg has called on printers to make since it dropped Agfa for the Kodak deal in 2010. As the plate price war starts to heat up, Agfa managing director Mark Brindley welcomes the opportunity get into the game and win over conflicted customers. Agfa has just launched its new Azura TU chemistry-free thermal plate system, which Brindley claims has already snapped up some of the competition.

  • Kodak pulls the pin on Heidelberg plate deal

    Kodak runs the play, ending its five-year Heidelberg plate deal to go direct. Local Kodak top brass Steve Venn reveals he made the call to cut ties with Heidelberg as a distributor to nail down a competitive edge for the business. The move is predicted to kick off a fierce price war among rival suppliers.

    Speaking with Print21 Venn confirms the split is a local decision to deal directly with customers again. He says it signals the start of a growth phase for the business following its emergence from Chapter 11.

    “Take control of our own destiny” – Steve Venn, managing director, Kodak

    “The industry has gone through an enormous amount of consolidation and that makes things keener than ever for competitive positioning. Essentially our entire sheet-fed plate business was going through Heidelberg, and we wanted to get back in front of our customers. Take control of our own destiny.

    “It makes Kodak more competitive, at a time when customers are under extreme price pressures in some cases. But it’s not just a question of plate price, we’re looking forward to talking with customers about total solutions, from plates, workflow, colour solutions right through to working with customers considering a transition to digital,” said Venn.

    Kodak issued its termination notice to Heidelberg in early January 2014 with its exclusivity agreement officially coming to an end on July 1, and it’s been making good use of its time.

    Venn says, “We’ve been very active, getting out there and talking with customers, signing new contracts. There’s a lot of confidence, and a lot of customers are coming back to us and saying they’re happy to be dealing directly. When July 1 rolls around we’ll be more than ready to go.”

    From July 1 Heidelberg picks up a new plate deal with rival graphics supplier Fujifilm, leaving printers with a tough choice ahead. The two companies have recently signed off a global partnership to develop an inkjet printing platform, and it is understood that Heidelberg has already been distributing Fujifilm plates in Europe. Locally, Fujifilm will continue to supply its own customers directly.

    Venn extends his thanks to the team at Heidelberg saying, “Our working relationship has been very good. It’s been right for what we needed at the time, but the industry has moved on and time’s change.”

  • Heidelberg plate change fuels market appetite

    Heidelberg chops and changes plate supplier for the second time in five years. The German offset press manufacturer cools with Kodak and switches to rival graphics provider Fujifilm, leaving printers with a choice tipped to spark a plate price war.

    From July 1, 2014, Heidelberg will be sole distributor for Fujifilm plates and products in the Australian and New Zealand market. Fujifilm will continue to supply its own customers directly. The announcement comes hot on the heels of a global partnership between the two companies late last year, collaborating on Heidelberg’s inkjet printing platform. Heidelberg has not confirmed whether or not the decision was made locally.

    Heidelberg previously held plate deals in the local market with Agfa, before signing up as exclusive distributor for Kodak in January 2010. The 2010 deal covered all of Kodak’s consumables, workflow solution and CtP equipment catering for the commercial sheet-fed market. The exact nature of Heidelberg’s ongoing relationship with Kodak has yet to confirmed.

    A Heidelberg spokesperson has said the decision is “in line with the global alliance” announced last year, and that “Fujifilm’s range of printing plate products encompasses the entire gamut required for the Australian and New Zealand market offering.”

    Mark Brindley, managing director, Agfa, voiced concerns that the split could potentially trigger a plate price war in the market.

    “For Agfa this is an opportunity. If the switch forces customers out there to contemplate a change, it’s an opportunity for us to talk to them. Our thermal portfolio continues to evolve, Agfa is investing in R&D and has a strong infrastructure. We’ve just launched a new product in the region and just converted a significant Fuji site in Brisbane to our new Azura TU range,” said Brindley.

    Local distributor Ferrostaal is also making a name for itself in the plate market, bringing in Huaguang plates from China. According to Rayne Simpson, general manager, Ferrostaal, its strategy was unlikely to change in response to the announcement, citing solid headway over the past year.

    “We represent a great plate manufacturer, the biggest one in China. We’ve happy building up a solid customer base that can use it as a cost effective alternative and improve their profits. That’s the space we want to be in, and our customers are very happy,” said Simpson.

    Representatives from Heidelberg, Fujifilm and Kodak were unavailable to provide further comment at the time of publication.

  • HP Scitex beefs up turnarounds for Sumo printer

    Graphic display heavyweight Sumo Visual Group quadruples its turnarounds with its new HP Scitex FB 10000 industrial press. The Melbourne-based large-format specialist makes its latest investment to target the spike in short-run retail jobs and streamline the business.

    After more than ten years servicing some of Australia’s leading retail brands this marks the first HP press for Sumo Visual Group. According to national sales director Gary Fawcett, the 100% digital shop had been turning away work, due to volumes of customer demand and tight client turnarounds.

    “We chose the HP Scitex FB10000 industrial press to reassure our clients that we can help them meet the tight deadlines crucial to the success of their campaigns. Our speed to market raises the bar in the industry as a whole,” said Fawcett.

    Fawcett claims that the HP Scitex has been generating turnaround times up to four times faster than the company’s existing portfolio of digital printers. Since it hit the ground in December last year the new press has earned its stripes as the house workhorse delivering complete campaign solutions within two days, while still maintaining Sumo Visual Group’s high expectations of print quality.

    The HP Scitex FB10000 turns around 1000 B1 sheets (1500 x 3000 mm) in less than two hours. The high throughput and flexibility is a critical asset, with around 70% of Sumo Visual Group’s customers in the retail space calling for frequent changes to marketing and in-store branding messages.

    Fawcett says, “The HP Scitex FB10000 ticks all the boxes – incredibly high speed, power and throughput, plus great image quality.”

    Along with the press, Sumo Visual Group has also invested in new prepress software and cutting and finishing equipment, streamlining workflow and increasing efficiency for the business.

  • Steer clear of bad debt with upcoming webinar

    Avid webinar fans will hear from trade broker Mark Smith, of National Credit Insurance brokers, in the next session. Smith will give printers the inside running on the pitfalls of debt, tips on avoiding risk and managing credit exposure in an in-depth 30-minute presentation on Wednesday April 9.

    A leading trade broker working across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, Smith offers his insights to help printing companies minimise the risks should a client become insolvent before paying their print bills. Acknowledging the impact being felt in the industry, Smith urges companies to better understand how to manage credit exposure, calculate financial risk and develop strategies to minimise this risk.

    “This webinar will be a good introduction for companies who have not taken steps to secure themselves in the eventuality that a major customer of theirs were to fall over. I will be explaining what credit insurance is, how it works, what it costs and how printing companies can assess its suitability for their individual circumstances,” said Smith.

    This latest installment will provide a basic tool kit for businesses to reduce the risk of financial loss experienced after major clients have fallen over owing thousands of dollars for print work. Smith will also discuss how companies can calculate the amount of credit they are prepared to safely provide clients, balancing the competitive realities of business while protecting that business from unsustainable financial exposure.

    Debt recovery options will also be included in the 30-minute presentation.

    The webinar begins at 1pm AEST on Wednesday 9 April and online registration is available via this link or by visiting

  • Issue 619 – 26 March 2014

    New details emerge on Heidelberg’s plate split with Kodak. The Currie Group’s mobile showroom ticks off Albury and Bendigo as it makes its way around Australia. Meanwhile, IPEX 2014 has officially kicked off and Print21 is on the frontline with its own intrepid IPEX Investigator snapping up all the scoops.


    You’re one of almost 9,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand who rely on Print21 to stay up to date. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the news first. If you like this bulletin and you’re an industry professional in ANZ but don’t receive our bi-monthly magazine, here’s your chance to get a free subscription here. Remember, keep those news tips and stories coming in to us here at NEWS. 


    Thank you,

    Nicholas Pond – Print21 online editor

  • Inkjet colour goes west – Print21 Magazine feature

    Having settled chiefly on the east coast of Australia so far, production inkjet technology is now on the march further west. The latest installations of colour presses in Adelaide and Perth signal the next stage of the technology’s expansion to the furthest corners of the country.

    In the four years since the current crop of production inkjet machines started arriving on our shores, the main axis of development has been in the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor with practically all the machines in Australia going into the three major capitals. The only regional outposts have been with the books printers, Opus in Maryborough and Griffin Press in Adelaide, both of which installed HP machines.

    Increasingly though, the east coast focus is shifting further west. Fuji Xerox DMS, the only truly national operator in this sector, has installed Fuji Xerox 1400 press in Adelaide and Perth while Canon/Océ is also spreading its installed base further afield with installations of the ColorStream 3700 with Lane Print and Zipform in Adelaide and Perth respectively. These two latter installations are also the first to feature LaserMax Roll finishing equipment as part of a high-speed continuous web inkjet system.

    Zipform cracks the bottleneck

    Based out of Perth, Zipform was founded in 1984 by Dave Edwards and quickly become an iconic direct marketing and transactional specialist. Covering everything from high-end DM through to statements, bills and invoices for some of Australia’s leading brands and institutions, Zipform is now one of the largest providers of customer communications in the country. The company’s monthly print figures rack up in the millions and operations manager, Richard Vaughan, is no stranger to the print bottleneck. The problem was speed and, for the team at Zipform, the solution came in the form of the Canon ColorStream 3700 inkjet press, with Vaughan overseeing the installation last year.

    “We certainly didn’t make the decision lightly,” he comments. “It’s a big investment whichever way you look at it. Canon just has such a long history in inkjet, we had confidence in their ability to deliver. Along with their experience in implementation and systems, it just gave them the edge on the competition. For us the ColorStream delivered a product that’s top of the tree, and is going to stay that way for a good few years to come.”

    Zipform decided to take it one step further with an Australian-first team-up with Lasermax Roll inline finishing. Distributed locally by Australian Graphic Services (AGS), the new high speed finishing line has been up and running for nearly a year now, and is well and truly earning its stripes. According to Ross Gilberthorpe, sales and marketing manager, AGS, the Lasermax Roll equipment is rapidly gaining traction as an alternative option for high-speed digital press packages off the back of its success at Zipform.

    “The install in Perth was our first one in Australia, and that was a big thing to see how it went. You never know until you put the first one in, but now it’s going great guns,” he says.

    Taking it to the next level

    Meanwhile, although the company had previous experience with colour inkjet technology, the installation of the ColorStream 3700 has catapulted Zipform to the next level. The press’s unique DigiDot technology delivers a perceived quality of 1,200dpi running at a regular 100 metres per minute and consistently hitting Zipform’s print benchmark. The balance of performance and speed has allowed the team to deliver same-day lodgements and secure new business.

    “For me it’s all about speed to market,” says Vaughan. “You don’t have to slow it down to get the quality out of it. Print used to be a bit of bottleneck for the business, now mailing is the only issue.”

    Built on Canon’s top-of-the-line DigiDot piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet heads, the ColorStream 3700 was quick to prove its worth to the Zipform team. The install was handled by Canon’s Peter Williams, who buckled down and had the ColorStream up and running live jobs within three weeks.

    The ColorStream is optimised to enable a fast switch between long monochrome and full-colour print runs, a flexibility which is perfectly matched to the company’s diversity of transactional and DM work. The new installation has also enabled it to move from dye to pigment inks, a key factor for making the switch. No longer limited to dye ink compatible stocks, the ColorStream has unlocked room for greater flexibility, both in product offering and efficiencies, and opened up opportunities for new business.

    Down to the drop

    Over the past few years Zipform has strategically targeted transactional work as a growth market, work that the ColorStream has fuelled in the 11 months since the installation. When Vaughan joined the business in 2007, Zipform saw around 75 per cent of its work from direct marketing customers with the rest in transactional mail. Six years later the split is closer to 50/50 and, according to Vaughan, that’s without any major drop-offs in the DM.

    “Processing and speed are critical to those jobs. As a transactional house we run a very intensive front-end that calls for a huge amount of processing power. So another reason we went with the ColorStream was PRISMA. As a front-end it’s tried and tested software that can RIP transactional files at the speeds we need.

    “We pride ourselves on having top end IT capabilities. We try and get involved with the customers as early as possible in the process too. It’s really all about using data for what it is capable of doing,” says Vaughan.

    As well as RIP’ing through the staggering sums of data that drives Zipform, PRISMA has streamlined efficiencies for the business in other ways. The software running at the Perth site is kitted out with an accountancy module designed to accurately record the real-time metrics on ink and paper usage. For the first time, the business is able to access its actual usages instead of using system estimates.

    As Vaughan explains, “We’re going in there down to the litre, to the drop, and what we’ve found is ink usage is actually about 5-7 per cent less than the estimates. Now we can go in there and tighten up our stock management, and our ink management, and that makes us more efficient and, of course, more competitive.”

    Lane follows same path

    The success of the Zipform installation in Perth was followed last year by the announcement that Lane Print & Post in Adelaide would also be taking the same route with the installation of a similar Canon ColorStream 3700 and Lasermax Roll combination.

    The privately-owned family print business with more than 40 years of industry experience under its belt is best known for its combination of commercial offset print work and digital business communications print. Although not in the same league as the big transactional print businesses on the east coast, Lane’s decision to invest in high-speed colour inkjet is indicative of the spread of the technology and the need for print businesses in this sector to stay up-to-speed with the latest systems.

    Four years after its arrival, the advance of high-speed inkjet across the country continues to gather pace, pointing the way towards a colourful new future.