Archive for December, 2015

  • 2015 news round-up. All the news that was.

    Well, 2015 wasn’t the best of times, but then, it wasn’t the worst either. A year that saw the recession ebb slowly away but without lifting the animal spirits of the printing industry. Consolidation continued, companies rolled over, but there were fewer dead cats to be picked up. Most sales were as going concerns.

    Then there was PrintEx in May, and that was a great party. As we finish off the year going strong, before we go, here’re some of the high points and the low spots of a fairly forgettable year.

    January 2015:

    Norske Skog follows market with price rise
    Tuesday, 13 January 2015

    Brave start to the year with a price rise for Tassie catalogue paper.

    End-to-end workflows, 3D printing, and getting Benny out of bed – that’s a wrap for Connect
    Sunday, 25 January 2015
    By Patrick Howard
    What happens in Vegas sometimes leaks out.

    Australian Paper accused of dumping uncoated cut-sheets on USA.
    Friday, 30 January 2015
    People in glass houses should beware of flinging rocks.

    February 2015:

    Blue Star builds on its STI buyout
    Monday, 02 February 2015

    Early in the year Geoff Selig started his build towards a December ASX launch for IVE, aka Blue Star.
    Friday, 06 February 2015
    “No monopoly should have the right to set its own prices,” says Bill Healey, as Australia Post announces a new round of price hikes.
    Thursday, 19 February 2015
    Trouble at PaperlinX as MD Andrew Price is dumped after two years.
    Friday, 27 February 2015
    PMP slashes debt and boosts earnings under CEO Peter George.

    March 2015:
    Tuesday, 17 March 2015
    26 Australian HP customers battle ‘bloody freezing’ temperatures to attend the 10th Dscoop conference in Washington DC.
    Tuesday, 24 March 2015
    Perfectly Bound secures former TLC premises at Silverwater.
    Friday, 27 March 2015
    PaperlinX breaches a banking agreement and suspends trading on the ASX.

    April 2015:
    Thursday, 02 April 2015
    Hundreds lose their jobs as PaperlinX UK calls in administrators.
    Wednesday, 15 April 2015
    Blue Star rebrands as print and marketing group IVE.
    Thursday, 21 April 2015
    Pantone unveils a new ‘fun-loving’ colour, Minion Yellow.
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015
    SA printer opens ‘world first’ 100% solar-powered print room.
    Tuesday, 28 April 2015
    Bambra Press buys McKellar Renown to bring two of Melbourne’s best-known printers under one roof.
    Thursday, 30 April 2015
    Bill Healey says he’ll retire as PIAA head early next year.

    May 2015:
    Tuesday, 12 May 2015
    News Corp invests millions in new Ferag mailroom technology.
    Wednesday, 13 May 2015
    PrintEx 2015 opens in Sydney – with not a single offset press on display.
    Wednesday, 20 May 2015
    Leading supply groups GAMAA and VISA announce merger plan.
    Wednesday, 27 May 2015
    IVE Group reveals plans to list on the ASX
    Thursday, 28 May 2015
    News Corp ditches commuter paper mX.

    June 2015:
    Thursday, 11 June 2015
    IVE calls off ASX float citing ‘underlying market conditions.’
    Tuesday, 16 June 2015
    Collapsed PaperlinX owes creditors $106m and has a pension fund deficit of $360m.
    Thursday, 18 June 2015
    Currie Group installs 10th HP Indigo 10000 Press.

    July 2015:
    Wednesday, 1 July 2015
    Bill Healey takes aim at Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour over plans to axe 2000 jobs.
    Thursday, 02 July 2015
    Brit Paul Shetler named CEO of federal government’s new Digital Transformation Office.
    Thursday, 09 July 2015
    Patrick Howard reports from HP’s customer conference in Israel.
    Thursday, 09 July 2015
    Fairfax sells former printing plants at Tullamarine and Chullora.
    Wednesday, 15 July 2015
    Ex-Waratahs CEO Jason Allen is named new chief of Printing Industries.
    Wednesday, 22 July 2015
    Melbourne mega deal sees industry doyen Frank Todisco step back from the industry.
    Friday, 31 July 2015
    ‘Boom to bust’ inside six months for Mackay-based Digimax.

    August 2015:
    Wednesday, 05 August 2015
    Paper merchants warn of major price hikes ahead.
    Friday, 07 August
    Supplier super-group Visual Connections launches with inaugural board meeting.
    Wednesday, 12 August 2015
    Mailing houses campaign against Auspost’s ‘catastrophic’ price rises.
    Thursday, 27 August 2015
    Dispute over a digital printer claims 5 Star Print.

    September 2015:
    Wednesday, 02 September 2015
    Ability Press and Docklands Press move into former Mercedes Waratah premises.
    Friday, 18 September 2015
    Numbers good for Visual Impact – the first trade show under Visual Connections.

    October 2015:
    Friday, 02 October 2015
    Patrick Howard checks the latest in inkjet presses at Labelexpo 2015.
    Wednesday, 21 October 2015
    Shock study reveals 25% of printers are making less than $30,000 a year.
    Friday, 23 October 2015
    Singapore supermarkets pull APP products as massive smoke haze blankets south-east Asia.
    Tuesday, 27 October 2015
    Collapsed paper merchant PaperlinX changes its name to Spicers.

    November 2015:
    Wednesday, 04 November 2014
    Trade printer Q Print collapses into voluntary administration.
    Thursday, 05 November 2015
    IVE Group reveals its 2nd IPO attempt in six months.
    Friday, 06 November 2015
    Adelaide-based Protectaprint sold to a division of OPUS.
    Thursday, 19 November 2015
    Norske Skog’s massive debt threatens local newsprint operation.

    December 2015:
    Tuesday, 01 December 2015
    Brokers underwrite IVE Group’s ASX float.
    Tuesday, 08 December 2015
    Paragon collapses owing $3m – 50 staff lose jobs.
    Tuesday, 08 December 2015 
    PIAA details remarkable staff turnover under new CEO.
    Thursday, 17 December
    ATO audit claims NSW printer Printit.

  • Issue 769 – December 23, 2015

    This is it, the final Print21 news e-bulletin for 2015. It’s been a fascinating year that saw the Australian and New Zealand printing industry continue to consolidate into fewer and larger players. There seemed to be fewer train wrecks, with many businesses sold and acquired for reasonable market value. No big technology releases ahead of drupa year 2016. Printers are realising that it’s less to do with what you’ve got and more about what you do with what you’ve got.

    Don’t miss the highs and the lows of the past 12 months in the 2015 Almanac put together by Graham Osborne, online editor. We’ll be back on deck the 2nd week of January. Meanwhile, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Printing New Year.

    You’re one of almost 7000 industry professionals across Australia and New Zealand reading Print21.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

  • Dotmar grabs Graphic Art Mart in surprise deal

    'My only plan is to spend a lot of time with my new grandson', says former Graphic Art Mart owner Mark Tailby.

    Multinational engineering plastics company Dotmar Holdings has acquired leading Sydney-based sign and display market supplier Graphic Art Mart, in a deal effective 18 December.

    Dotmar is a division of Metal Manufactures Limited and part a worldwide ‘Plastics Family’ group of businesses that includes Laird Plastics USA, Europoint UK and EM Plastics in Canada. Graphic Art Mart will continue to run as a standalone business within the group and will be headed by existing managing director Mousa Elsarky. “I’m delighted to welcome Graphic Art Mart, its employees, customers and suppliers to our organisation,” said Kevin Stainer, executive GM, Dotmar Holdings.

    Long time former Graphic Art Mart owner and director Mark Tailby, who is retiring from the industry, told Print21 it was the right time to move on.

    “From a family perspective, it was the right time and the right opportunity and we’re absolutely happy with the deal,” he said. “We’re proud to have been part of Graphic Art Mart for more than 40 years and have worked with great people over that time to build an industry-leading brand.” Tailby owned the company with his brother Glen and parents Peter and Pamela.

    “We didn’t have to sell because the business is growing and performing very well but the family chose Dotmar because it would allow Graphic Art Mart to stay as it is and continue to evolve and grow. I’m retiring from the business but I’ll be available to assist Dotmar and our managing director Mousa Elsarky, who has done a fantastic job over the past three years, through the transition period.”

    Tailby, who turns 57 next year, says it’s a great opportunity to enjoy other things in life.  “My daughter Elissa has just given us a grandson, Oscar, and my only plan right now is to be spending a lot of time with Oscar.” Tailby will also leave his position as vice-president of suppliers organisation Visual Connections.

    “The industry has been incredibly good to us and it will be sad to leave and especially sad to lose contact with a lot of friends,” he said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done and all our suppliers are very happy with Dotmar because it’s a cash-rich and asset-rich company that’s backed by an extensive network. Transisitioning a long held family business so that it’s a win-win situation for everyone, including staff, suppliers and customers, is a great outcome and we’re very happy with the result.  It means we can look people in the eye and say we’ve done the very best for everyone concerned.”

    Tailby says he will now be leaving the printing industry. “I’m very grateful for my time in the signage industry but it is not my intention to resurface. I may like to get back into business in another industry sometime in the future but I’m not sure exactly where.”

    Graphic Art Mart has serviced the sign and display market in Australia for more than 40 years, supplying leading industry brands such as Avery Dennison, Arlon, Roland DG, Aslan, Chemica, Mimaki, and Sihl. The company is based in North Rocks, Sydney, NSW, with branches in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


  • David Crowther seals Techkon dealership

    On a visit to Germany, David Crowther confirms the dealership with Techkon managing director, Albin Baranaukus.

    Switching Australian and New Zealand agent for the German high-tech colour measurement company has stirred the waters, with conflicting reports as to who does what. Following the switch from previous agent, Kayell, Colour Graphic Services has taken on the sought-after agency.

    According to David Crowther, Managing Director of Colour Graphic Services, there have been  inaccurate media reports.

    “I returned from Techkon head office two weeks ago having undergone extensive technical training and having my company’s appointment as a non-exclusive dealer confirmed. I am one of three non-exclusive dealers and was disturbed to see that another dealer has been reported to be ‘the’ distributor for Australia and New Zealand. This is not factual and seems more likely to be a misunderstanding in reporting rather than competitive posturing.

    “I have been in contact with the other dealer  [Queensland-based G2psd: ed] and know and respect the owners. We verbally agreed to co-operate. They are not, however, a distributor, who typically imports directly from the manufacturer and then on-sells to dealers. We both buy directly from Techkon of Königstein/Frankfurt, Germany.

    “Techkon and Colour Graphic Services have formed a very close working relationship, which is already bearing fruit,” says Crowther, “I remain the only local dealer to have done on-site factory training, and they appreciated my commitment and I theirs.

    Crowther added that he will be attending drupa for 11 days and can be contacted on the Techkon stand in Hall 9 –A21.

    “I hope this clears it up,” he says, “the main thing is that customers can be assured of the very best support for the best spectrophotometers and densitometers in the world – Techkon.” (pronounced Tesh-kon)


  • More Melbourne mergers as Southern Colour joins with Impact Digital

    Offset industry leader Southern Colour has joined with Melbourne printer Impact Digital to acquire boutique digital print innovator Intelligent Media under new parent company Southern Impact.

    'Excited by the opportunties': Rod Dawson, MD, Southern Colour

    “Two of Australia’s leading print houses are now owned by a common group of shareholders,” said a company press release. “As a result of the new structure, Southern Impact purchased the remaining share of Intelligent Media from director Shadi Taleb.”

    The move will present great opportunities for the businesses, staff and customers, according to Rod Dawson, MD of Southern Colour.

    “Our group has never been more excited about the opportunities that lay ahead and we believe our group is now well positioned for the future,” he said. “Intelligent Media is in an exciting growth phase and we are extremely happy that Shadi, the founder and former owner of Intelligent Media, will remain within the business.”

    All three businesses will remain operating as they are now, according to a company press release:

    For many years, Impact Digital and Southern Colour have had some common shareholding across the companies and now, the new parent company, Southern Impact, owns 100% of Southern Colour, Impact Digital and Intelligent Media. Southern Colour and Impact Digital are well-established market leaders in the print industry, whilst Intelligent Media is an innovative business with great opportunity for growth.

    Current directors of Impact Digital, Heath Nankervis and Tony Parker, say the parent company adds a new dimension for their traditional digital customers. “This development has just created a whole new conversation we can have with our customers, discussing the entire Southern Impact group’s service offering.”

  • PIAA’s struggle for relevance in a changing world

    An open letter from James Cryer, (pictured) associate member, to the board and executive of Printing Industries, in which he offers his perspective on recent events and on possible avenues towards the future.

    If the PIAA (Printing Industries) were a country it would arguably be the most dangerous place on earth. If you’re an employee there chances are your employment will soon be terminated.

    In a recent statement by the PIAA, it listed those who’ve left, either voluntarily or not, in the past three months. Last week in a dramatic development, we learn that long-serving national board member, immediate past-president of the national body and former-president of PIAA in Queensland, Susan Heaney, has departed from the board!

    Is it something in the drinking water? How can ten people in the space of a few months all fall on their sword? If they were all that bad, why were they employed in the first place? Or is a more likely scenario that they didn’t conform to the new PIAA template (if there is one?) going forward?

    As they say, to lose one of anything is carelessness  but to lose … ten in a row?

    Maybe there’s a hidden agenda at play: to strip down the PIAA, tighten-up its balance sheet and flog it off to another larger group, such as the AIG (the former Chamber of Manufacturers)? We’re sitting on a gold mine from the sale of Auburn, we’ve flogged-off the overheads of having state offices and we’re putting the axe through the head-count.

    But running an industry association is a difficult and messy business. Certainly, one has to be mindful of managing the members’ assets and finances carefully. An industry association is a finely nuanced entity, with four main objectives

    • To lobby for, and protect the interests of, its members
    • To provide a forum for members to come together and exchange ideas
    • To provide technical, legal and other support services to its members
    • To hold events to publicise or showcase the achievements of the industry.

    I could add another … to promote the benefits our industry offers to school-leavers and other new entrants.

    The PIAA has been losing members for years as the offset component of our industry steadily shrinks. And I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing, as it’s probably part of a mega-trend towards smaller, not larger, industry associations.

    Where I think the PIAA may have been remiss is in not approaching printing companies in other sectors. Last week a company who erect neon signs contacted me. They needed a Mac operator as they have acquired a wide-format capability. When I jokingly asked if they “put ink on paper?” and they agreed, I said, “that makes you a printing company.” They were somewhat taken aback by this new categorisation! But would they ever reach out to the PIAA?… possibly not. Would the PIAA ever reach out to them … definitely not!

    In recent weeks, we’ve heard Harvey Norman excitedly advertising on radio, telling people to visit their stores and get stuff printed while they wait, explaining how they offer a comprehensive range of print services. Would they feel a need to join the PIAA? Probably not. Would the PIAA ever contact them … again, definitely not!

    Print has become like an amoeba, morphing into a million forms and popping up in the most unexpected places. But a traditional reliance on a hard core of suburban, sheet-fed offset companies will sound the death-knell of the PIAA. Large sheet-fed printers who print cartons, like Hannapak and Colorpak, see more value aligning themselves with the Packaging Council of Australia (PCA), a weird amalgam of suppliers and customers, if ever there was one!

    So, for what it’s worth, here are my helpful comments to the Board. If I were running the PIAA:

    • You can forget about the value of lobbying these days. Unless you’re prepared to play the game of having a permanent office in Canberra, governments aren’t interested: look at all the good it did us lobbying to Australia Post for lower business rates!
    • Reach out to other graphic arts associations and engage with them on joint programs, such as: attracting school-leavers, staging training programs and other events, social as well as technical. You’ve created Future Print as a great platform and I’ve attended many workshops. I don’t think I ever saw anyone who wasn’t a member of the PIAA. There should have been invitations sent out to all print sectors.
    • Remake friends with the PIAA’s daughter organisations that currently feel unloved and unwanted. They, specifically the JPE, LIA and LATMA, can help you, but you’ll have to invite them back into the fold after virtually telling them to go away.
    • No more Updates sent out via spin-doctors! The use of weasel words like transformation, journey, realigning all suggests the writer is having a terrible battle with the English language! Fire the spin-doctors and hire people who can write informatively about issues that are of interest to members.

    Which leads me to… promoting the National Print Awards. If ever there was a wasted opportunity, this is it! This could be a great showcase event if we did several things. One is to promote it to print-buyers generally, through the PIAA. Another, is to limit it to PIAA members only and charge a huge premium to those non-members who wish to avail themselves of the unimaginable value they get, virtually for free, by entering and winning gold. There is a whole raft of other things that could be done to turn this event into a giant money-spinner.

    All of these things may be exciting and rewarding. I don’t even mind the idea of downsizing. But why stop at this? You could always de-camp from the ‘gorgeous’ new offices at Chatswood and use an upturned packing case and a pot-plant. And why stop at just ‘reducing’ the services? Why not get rid of them altogether. It’s a damn nuisance listening to bosses who ring-up seeking free advice on how to sack their ungrateful staff. Downsize I say! Reduce the overheads, and if the packing case doesn’t work move into a phone booth and rebrand it as the Print Industry Legal Services, Inc. and then flog us off to the highest bidder.

    But please, do us the courtesy of explaining why.

    James Cryer,




  • Australian Paper boosts envelope production

    Australian Paper has announced 2 key initiatives to expand its envelope and paper manufacturing in both WA and Victoria.

    'Pursuing growth opportunities': Peter Williams. Australian Paper

    “We are pleased to have finalised an agreement with Envelope Specialists to expand our WA operations,” said Peter Williams, COO, Australian Paper.

    “The agreement includes the purchase of manufacturing equipment and stock from Envelope Specialists to provide additional operating capacity for our Australian envelope manufacturing business. Customers will be able to place their orders with Australian Paper from January 2016.

    “In line with global trends, Australian envelope volumes are continuing to decline due to the ongoing impact of e-commerce and changing technology,” said Williams. “As a market leader in stationery and office paper supplies, we are pursuing growth opportunities in Australia and New Zealand to consolidate our position and maintain production efficiencies in our major facilities at Preston and Maryvale in Victoria.

    “The agreement with Envelope Specialists will enable us to bring back to Australia 50 million envelopes per annum that are currently being manufactured overseas. This is also an important opportunity to secure additional envelope paper volume for our Maryvale Mill.”

    Australian Paper also announced it’s installing a W&D Classic Envelope folding machine in its Preston operation to better service the Direct Mail market for improved flexibility.

    “The Direct Mail segment is one of the few growth areas in the envelope category,” said Williams. “The W&D Classic will enable high quality envelope production at a cost effective price allowing us to better serve our customers and further grow our share, maintaining volumes at our Preston manufacturing plant in a declining market. We are also investigating the installation of a second machine once the Classic is fully operational.”

    Australian Paper is Australia’s largest manufacturer of paper and envelopes, supporting almost 6,000 jobs directly and indirectly nationally, and contributing over $750 million annually to Australia’s GDP (Western Research Institute, Economic Impact Report, Australian Paper 2012).



  • How printers can support COP21

    Well it’s finally over. Despite the ever present risk of abject failure, the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) is being hailed as a resounding success. And it is a success, because for the first time we have something approaching global consensus on how to protect the planet for future generations.

    Laurel Brunner

    Participating governments and businesses seem to recognise that apart from being necessary for the health of the planet, responding to climate change creates opportunities. With governments committed to creating favourable conditions, investors have an incentive to support innovation and what the COP21 people call “bottom-up solutions to support the global agreement on climate change”.

    Change requires engagement from small businesses, so we must keep raising awareness of environmentally friendly media production. And we must keep encouraging printers and publishers to develop robust environmental policies. One approach is to create a community of interests, as we are doing with the Verdigris project. COP21 saw the launch of L’Appel de Paris, the Paris Pledge for Action.

    This pledge is for nongovernment interests including cities, companies and investors. All are encouraged to sign up to confirm their commitment to supporting the COP21 agreement. The pledge is unfortunately, but perhaps necessarily, vague but it’s a start. Find out more about it at:

    We have come up with some specifics on how printers might support the COP21 agreement. Whatever we do in the graphics industry must be easily achievable for small businesses, so here are some simple ideas for what printers and publishers, large and small, might do:

    measure and track quarterly emissions to establish a benchmark for reduction goals (use your energy bills);

    invest in production process improvements to cut waste and improve efficiency (specify PDF settings for instance);

    establish recycling procedures for all departments;

    support car pooling and public transport use;

    develop an environmental policy (share it with staff and customers);

    have regular management reviews of your environmental policy and impact and think of how to improve it;

    encourage staff to come up with ideas for reducing the company’s carbon footprint;

    tighten up data driven processes such as colour management to improve efficiency and reduce waste, and

    teach yourself, customers and colleagues about how to make an environmental impact difference.

    This is a just a start and companies serious about improving environmental impact, already do most of it. They lead the industry, having either developed their own standards, or by following ISO standards. For many small businesses this approach is easiest because the work’s already done. Take a closer look at ISO 9001 (Quality management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 16759 (Calculating the carbon footprint of print media) and ISO 12647 (Process control). They help companies improve environmental impact and profitability, and consequently to support the COP21 agreement. It’s progress in tiny steps, but progress nonetheless.

    – Laurel Brunner

    Verdigris supporters who make the Verdigris blog possible include: Agfa GraphicsDigital Dots,  EFI,  Fespa,  Heidelberg,  HPKodakMondiPragati OffsetRicohShimizu PrintingSplash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

    Verdigris is a industry research initiative that examines the environmental impact of print media.


  • Issue 768 – December 18, 2015

    I’ve just met with Jason Allen, the new CEO of peak body, Printing Industries. It’s always interesting to see the familiar through new eyes. There’s little doubt that demand for print in all its many guises is steadily increasing, but as the import statistics for CWF paper show, printing is ever changing.
    Jason Allen is part of the change. An association professional, he appears to have few illusions about his role, the Association’s place in the industry or concerns about ruffling feathers. It’s going to be an interesting ride as he comes to grips with his version of the printing industry.
    You’re one of almost 7000 industry printing industry professional across Australia and New Zealand reading Print21.
    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

  • Printing paper volumes in freefall – Industry Edge

    Another massive drop of 13.1% in imports of coated woodfree papers (CWF) in 2014-2015 reflects declining demand for an important sector of commercial printing

    The CWF import figures for printing and writing papers are recognised as a real barometer of commercial print demand as there has been no Australian production  of the grade since 2010. According to this month’s issue of industry bible, Pulp & Paper Edge, the fall is part of an ongoing downward trend.

    Last year imports hit a record low of 252 kt, the smallest volume in decades. Demand has fallen over the past five years following the definitive drop of 28%  in just one year in 2011.

    Since then while prices have remained relatively stable, demand for CWF has continued to decline, averaging 3.8% per year.  Last year prices began to move up again to 8.7% reaching ADU$1083 per tonne FOB in October 2015. This price rise has undoubtedly contributed to the rapid decline in imports with volumes down 16.5% in twelve months.

    While price rises and increasing digitisation are undoubtedly major demand factors, Pulp & Paper Edge, makes the point that there is the potential for the substitution of cheaper lower-value-grade papers such as uncoated woodfrees.

    This is an important point. Not all of the decline in demand can be attributed to the rise of digital and electronic media, some of it relates to buyer price sensitivity in its own right, and thus to the strength of the general economy

    The fall in volumes of CWF imports can be regarded as a canary in the coal mine for the professional print sector. While there is a seasonal pattern of higher and lower monthly volumes, last December 2014 saw a record low of 13.4kt imported for the month. Difficult to see this year looking much better.

    Subscribe to Pulp & Paper Edge  for the complete article.

  • ATO ‘kick in the guts’ for Yamba printer

    Family-owned northern NSW printer Printit has been forced out of business by an unfavourable tax audit, according to general manager Jeff Roberts.

    Yamba-based Printit has appointed liquidators Worrells Solvency to wind up the business and a meeting of creditors will be held next week.

    'They've forced us out of business': Jeff Roberts, GM Printit

    “It’s a kick in the guts as far as I’m concerned,” said Roberts, a 30-year print veteran who ran the business with his wife, Gaye, a director. “The whole tax audit was poorly conducted, based on assumption rather than fact. The ATO disputed the details of the sale of a company we had owned previously and said the contract was invalid, despite the fact that transaction was found to be legitimate in 2013.

    “The terms of the audit were unreasonable and there were numerous errors in the ATO documentation. They came back to us earlier this month saying we still owed them $270,000, mainly due to the ATO shifting its position on the contract and associated penalties.  We were forced to make the decision to approach Worrells about winding up the company, otherwise we would have been trading while insolvent.

    “Printit was basically a small regional print business with a few employees and turnover of about $30,000 a month and they’ve forced us out of business, costing jobs in the region. I’m not happy about it but I think it would probably be inappropriate if I commented further.  We were a small organisation with no real debtors left apart from the tax office and myself. We’ve tried to do the right thing all the way through and have used our private funds to pay trade creditors and especially paper suppliers because they get burned too often, as you can see with what happened at Paragon recently.”

    Despite the demise of Printit, Roberts says he’s determined to stay in the printing industry. “We’ll do whatever is necessary to overcome this situation and continue to operate but unfortunately it won’t be in Yamba.  I truly appreciate the ongoing support we’ve received from the trade and especially from a trade printer in Currumbin who has supported Printit since production in Yamba was shut down.”

    Worrells Solvency has called a meeting of creditors for next Tuesday, 22 December, on the Gold Coast.


  • Norske Skog sets date for board showdown

    Norske Skog's mill at Albury, NSW

    Newsprint and magazine paper giant Norske Skog has called an extraordinary general meeting for 6 January after its major shareholder rejected plans to restructure debt of €1 billion that threatens the company’s operations in Australia and New Zealand.

    The Norwegian papermaker last month asked holders of senior note loans to switch to new unsecured loans that mature at later dates in a bid to strengthen its capital structure.

    GSO Capital Partners, controlled by global private equity firm Blackstone Group, is opposed to the restructuring plan and wants to replace three Norske Skog directors. GSO last week became the company’s largest shareholder, with an 11 percent stake, and is the largest holder of Norske Skog’s 218 million euros of unsecured bonds that are due June 2017.

    GSO and Cyrus Capital Partners called for an extraordinary general meeting by January 7 to vote on new board members and a new refinancing proposal. They’re seeking to replace Karin Bing Orgland, Siri Beate Hatlen and Ole Enger as directors.

    Norske Skog will be holding an extraordinary annual general meeting on 6 January 2016 at 16:00 CET at Karenslyst allé 2 in Oslo, the company said in a statement.
    Items on the agenda will include:
    The management’s update on the Company’s operations, including the Company’s financial position.
    A presentation of a refinancing of the Company given by GSO Capital Partners L.P. (“GSO”) and Cyrus Capital Partners L.P. (“Cyrus”), two shareholders of the Company.
    Election of three new members to the board of directors of the Company.

    The board includes five shareholder-elected directors and three voted for by employees – all with equal voting rights.

    Norske Skog said the notice and registration form for the extraordinary general meeting are now available on

    Norske Skog has two mills in Australia – at Boyer in Tasmania and Albury in NSW – and operates the Tasman mill at Kawerau in New Zealand.





  • Xmas cyber scam hits Australia Post

    Example of a scam email

    Australia Post and the ACCC have issued warnings to postal customers to watch out for parcel delivery scams arriving as email messages this Christmas.

    The emails claim to come from Australia Post and ask recipients to collect a parcel or pay for storage fees. A link takes you to a fake Australia Post website that offers a download of ‘tracking information’ but is in fact a virus known as ransomware that holds data to ransom.

    “We’ve received over 100 reports of this scam already this December – more than last December, with only half the month gone,” said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Delia Rickard. “The ACCC is also seeing a significant increase in both personal and commercial information loss being reported to this scam, with over 350 reports this year compared to 250 in 2014.

    “Scammers take advantage of the busy Christmas season to send you emails about a ‘missed parcel delivery’, purportedly from trusted services such as Australia Post or FedEx. The emails may be personalised with your name and address and look to be from a legitimate company complete with fraudulent logos,” said Rickard. “The email may mention a fee will be charged while they hold your undelivered item. Scammers ask you to open an attachment or download a file to retrieve your parcel. If you follow these instructions, an executable file (.exe) will load on to your computer and install ransomware as soon as it is opened.

    “Ransomware is a type of malware that freezes your computer and demands a ransom for you to be able to access your computer again. Scammers commonly ask for bitcoins or ask you to transfer money by wire transfer. Even if you pay the fee, there is no guarantee that your computer will be unlocked. If you receive an email about a package, don’t open any attachments or download files and regularly back-up your computer’s data on a separate hard drive.”

    Australia Post issued an alert reminding customers that it puts a notice in their letterbox if a package is undeliverable.  It warned customers to delete any emails claiming to be from Australia Post about an undelivered package and said some of the subject lines that are appearing in these scam emails include these:

    A courier did not redeem package

    A mailman did not redeem parcel

    An agent have not redeem item

    If you receive these kind of emails, Australia Post advises:
    Delete them ASAP
    Do not click on any links
    Report any scam emails to Scam Watch.

    Be aware that Australia Post does not: ask you to make a payment for parcel collection; email you to reconfirm your address by clicking a link; charge you to hold a parcel; send you an email asking for your password, credit card details or account information; call or email you out of the blue to request payment.

    If you are suspicious about a ‘missed’ parcel delivery, call the company directly to verify that the correspondence is genuine. Independently source the contact details through an internet search or phone book – do not rely on numbers provided. Buy yourself (or your business) a stand-alone hard drive for Christmas. These have become relatively inexpensive and can save you a lot if your computer is infected by malware or ransomware. Regularly back-up your computer’s data on a separate hard drive. If your computer is infected by malware or ransomware you can restore the factory settings and easily re-install all of your software and data.

    You can report scams to the ACCC via Scamwatch or by calling 1300 795 995. If the scammer has posed as a legitimate company, you should also report the incident to them. You can find more information on the Australia Post website.





  • Issue 767 – December 16, 2015

    Market share is gilded trap for egoistic players. In recent weeks I’ve been talking to people about which supply-side company has the largest market share in different sectors, and surprise, surprise – they all have. How can that be, I hear you ask?  It depends how you slice up the cake. Just about every company has a niche market where they lead either because they have a specialised product or long-standing relationships with the customers.

    The trap comes when businesses want to win the prime position by offering lower prices than their competitors, regardless of profitability,  effectively ‘buying’ market share. It’s a practice we used to see quite frequently in the printing industry, but thankfully it has fallen into disuse. ‘Buying’ market share is a one-way ticket to oblivion, for both the buyer and the seller. It’s more important to form stable relationships based on fair value.

    You’re one of almost 7000 industry professionals reading Print21 across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • IVE’s $173m float on the ASX

    'Bring it on': Geoff Selig, executive chairman, IVE Group

    Printing and marketing company IVE – formerly Blue Star – has successfully launched on the Australian Stock Exchange just six months after being forced to cancel a failed attempt in June.

    IVE Group Limited – ASX code: IGL – began trading on the boards at 12pm AEST, Wednesday, 16 December. More than 1.5 million shares were traded within minutes, with the opening offer at $1.95.

    The move is the first public offering for the printing industry for many years and represents a new appreciation of the value of integrated print-based communication companies. In recent times Blue Star has transformed itself from a purely printing company into a sophisticated marketing communications enterprise by buying a number of subsidiaries. The task now is to justify the market value of $173.5 million with sustainable growth in a competitive environment.

    “Bring it on,” Geoff Selig, executive chairman, IVE, told Print21. “This is a validation of the journey that the business has been on and that goes all the way back to 1921 with the launch of a local newspaper by my grandfather.  It’s a good feeling and it’s extremely rewarding to be able to present a business of this calibre and diversity to the market. It’s a testament to the underlying strength of our business and to all of the hard work carried out by our staff over many years.”

    The success of the most anticipated float in the print sector in two decades was guaranteed late last month when brokers underwrote the company’s $75.6 million initial public offering (IPO). Existing shareholders Wolseley PE and the Selig family will retain majority ownership. Geoff Selig will continue as executive chairman of the Group, with Gavin Bell and Andrew Harrison joining the board as independent non-executive directors.

    Selig said he was delighted with the strong level of support from cornerstone investors. “Our strong financial position and access to capital markets will provide the platform for the company’s continued strategic expansion,” he said. “This is ultimately a very good news story for our sector. Print does attract criticism at times but we believe the industry is in a stronger position now than it’s been in ten years and this gives us a wonderful opportunity to grow and evolve.”

    “With FY16 forecast revenue of $380m, EBITDA of $42.5m and a market capitalisation of $177.6 million, IVE has continued its growth and evolution over the last three years through an aggressive acquisition program,” said Selig shortly before the listing. “We’re in a good position after three very fruitful years where we invested $90 million and acquired nine businesses. Now, with the increased capitalisation, we see much larger opportunities in the market and we’ll be looking to double our business in the years ahead. The future looks bright.”

    Existing investors will retain a 57.5 per cent stake in the listed company. Wolseley Private Equity will be the company’s largest shareholder with a 38 per cent stake, while the Selig family will own 15 per cent.  Total number of shares on issue will be 88.9 million and the existing owners will hold 51.1 million.

    IVE is one of Australia’s most diversified print and marketing communications businesses, holding leading positions across many product and services sectors. Acquisitions over the past three years in marketing communications and mailing have helped grow the former Blue Star Group into a corporate behemoth with brands including printer Blue Star, communications solutions provider IVEO and tech agency Kalido.

    Earlier this week, IVEO announced a major deal with fast food giant McDonalds to manage production, warehousing, kitting and distribution of display and operational materials for McDonald’s 940-strong restaurant network.

  • Battle for control of struggling Norske Skog

    Norske Skog's Boyer mill in Tasmania

    Disgruntled shareholders of newsprint giant Norske Skog have called an extraordinary general meeting as the company struggles to restructure a massive debt that has hit €1 billion and threatens the company’s operations in Australia and New Zealand.

    The Norwegian papermaker last month asked holders of senior note loans to switch to new unsecured loans that mature at later dates in a bid to strengthen its capital structure. Carsten Dybevig, vice president Communication and Corporate Affairs, said Norske Skog had “encountered an exceedingly more challenging operating environment in 2015 than envisaged at the beginning of the year.

    European newsprint prices declined by close to 15% during the second quarter following a fight for market share. In Asia, newsprint prices are historically low, creating a significant challenge for the Australasian business, as lower domestic demand cannot be exported at meaningful margins. The outlook for 2016 is for an improved pricing environment; however, the lost contribution in 2015 is unlikely to be compensated in the first half of 2016.

    However, GSO Capital Partners, controlled by multinational private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, has announced it will seek to replace three Norske Skog directors as it steps up its fight over the debt restructuring plans. GSO last week became Norske Skog’s largest shareholder, with an 11 percent stake, and is the largest holder of Norske Skog’s 218 million euros of unsecured bonds that are due June 2017.

    GSO and Cyrus Capital Partners have called for an extraordinary general meeting by January 7 to vote on new board members and a new refinancing proposal. They’re seeking to replace Karin Bing Orgland, Siri Beate Hatlen and Ole Enger as directors, according to a company statement:

    GSO and Cyrus have requested that an extraordinary general meeting be held in Norske Skogindustrier ASA, at which the following agenda items are included:

    1. Election of new members of the Board of Directors to replace the Board members Ms Karin Bing Orgland, Ms Siri Beate Hatlen and Mr Ole Enger.
    2. Election of new members of the Election and Remuneration Committee to replace certain of the current members.
    3. GSO and Cyrus’ contemplated refinancing proposal for Norske Skogindustrier ASA.

    Furthermore, GSO and Cyrus have notified that they will revert with their proposal for new members to the Board of Directors and new and departing members of the Election and Remuneration Committee, as well as a presentation of their refinancing proposal. Such extraordinary general meeting shall be held within one month. The Board of Directors will therefore call for an extraordinary general meeting to be held within 7 January 2016.

    The board includes five shareholder-elected directors and three voted for by employees – all with equal voting rights.

    Norske Skog has two mills in Australia – at Boyer in Tasmania and at Albury in NSW – and operates the Tasman mill at Kawerau in New Zealand.


  • PIAA board loses its only woman – call for quotas

    The PIAA board's most recent photo

    PIAA board member Susan Heaney has left after eight years – the latest in a long list of personnel changes since the arrival of new CEO Jason Allen earlier this year.

    After eight years of dedicated service, long time Board member, Susan Heaney, has today announced her retirement from the board, said a PIAA press release. The move leaves Printing Industries with an eight-man board of directors until a replacement is named, and comes amid renewed calls for a quota system to boost the numbers of women on company boards in Australia.

    Twenty-eight of the ASX 200 companies have no women on their boards and another 64 companies have only one woman. “When I started my career in the 1970s I never imagined that we would still be having this conversation 40 years later and the fact there has been so little change over time leads me to think there needs to be some action,” Elizabeth Proust, new chair of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, told Fairfax Media.  “If three years from now we have still not managed to achieve at least 30 per cent female directors on all ASX 200 boards then quotas is something that has to be put on the table as an option,” Ms Proust said.

    'Pleased to have served the industry': Susan Heaney

    “I am pleased to have served the industry, leaving the PIAA in a far stronger position than when I joined,” said Heaney in a brief statement. “This was always my overall objective in taking on a Board role. I look forward to continuing to serve, albeit in some different ways and the exciting times ahead for PIAA in 2016.”

    PIAA president David Leach said, “Susan has passionately pursued her vision for the PIAA, and has worked countless unpaid hours for and on behalf of the members of the association. Susan leaves us immediately to dedicate more time in developing her own business, Queensland based Heaneys Performers in Print, and will generously continue in her roles as board member for Media Super, and her honorary position with the National Print Awards.”

    Printing Industries last week announced that the National Print Awards would move to Sydney next year.

    “On behalf of the PIAA Board, staff and members I sincerely wish Susan all the success for her future and thank her for her enormous contribution over the years, both at National and State levels to our organisation,” said Leach. “She is truly one of those few people who are prepared to roll up her sleeves and get on with the job at hand. We will miss her counsel and contribution.”

    The Queensland based PIAA Director role, replacing Heaney, will be sought by process, said the press release.