Archive for December, 2016

  • ACCC ‘concerned’ about PMP/IPMG merger

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a statement expressing ‘initial concerns’ about the proposed merger between print businesses PMP and IPMG.

    “The ACCC’s preliminary view is that the merger may substantially lessen competition in the supply of heatset web offset printing, the main method for printing catalogues and magazines,” said an ACCC Statement of Issues on PMP-IPMG print merger released on Thursday morning.

    "May see a reduction in competition': Rod Sims, chairman ACCC

    Chairman Rod Sims says the ACCC is concerned the merger “may see a reduction in competition with the number of significant suppliers in the market going from three to two.”

    The ACCC is also considering whether a merged PMP-IPMG could ‘foreclose’ rival catalogue distributors, says Sims.

    The commission is seeking feedback from the industry before 9am on 31 January with a final decision scheduled for 23 February.

    Here’s the full statement:

    22 December 2016

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a Statement of Issues expressing initial concerns about the proposed merger between print businesses PMP (ASX:PMP) and IPMG.

    The ACCC’s preliminary view is that the merger may substantially lessen competition in the supply of heatset web offset printing, the main method for printing catalogues and magazines.

    The ACCC also notes recent consolidation in the sector such as the recent acquisition of Franklin and AIW, which has made IVE a larger competitor.

    “The ACCC is concerned that as the two largest suppliers in heatset printing, the merger of PMP and IPMG may see a reduction in competition with the number of significant suppliers in the market going from three to two,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

    The ACCC is seeking feedback from industry participants.

    “The ACCC is asking industry participants whether they consider that there are alternatives to PMP and IPMG for catalogue and magazine printing,” Mr Sims said.

    “Despite a decline in circulation for magazines and the volume of catalogues distributed, the ACCC considers that there is a market for heatset web offset printing. Other forms of printing, such as coldset, digital, and sheet-fed, will not provide a significant competitive constraint for many heatset customers.” 

    “PMP is also in the business of catalogue distribution. The ACCC is also considering whether a merged PMP-IPMG could ‘foreclose’ rival catalogue distributors, particularly through offering customers a bundled print and distribution arrangement,” Mr Sims said.

    The ACCC has sought submissions by 9am on 31 January 2017, with the final decision expected on 23 February 2017.

    The Statement of Issues and information about making a submission is available on the ACCC’s public register: PMP Limited – proposed merger with IPMG Group

     

     

  • Issue 871 – December 21, 2016. Wrap up for 2016

    Here we are again at the close of another year. And what a year! It looks as though we may be heading for the Chinese curse of  ‘living in interesting times.’ But that’s for tomorrow and 2017. For now, it remains for me to thank all of you, our readers and supporters, advertisers and contributors to Print21 for seeing us through another big year. I hope you consider we’ve kept you reasonably informed and entertained about our niche in the wider world. For my own part, I still consider it a privilege and an honour to publish Print21 in the service of the Australian and New Zealand printing industry.

    Merry Christmas to you all and here’s to a prosperous and fascinating New Year.

    Welcome to you latest and final issue for the year of Print21, the premier news and information service for the printing industry across Australian and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

     

  • ACCC delays PMP/IPMG merger

    PMP has been forced to delay its planned merger with IPMG by almost two months to allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to take a closer look at the proposed deal.

    “Following discussions with the ACCC, there may be a need for a short delay in completion to allow the ACCC merger review process further time to be completed,” PMP told the ASX in a statement on Monday. “PMP has undertaken not to complete the transaction before 23 February 2017 and the ACCC has indicated that it will endeavour to complete the review by this time.”

    When the merger plan was announced in October, PMP said it expected the deal would be completed on 3 January, ‘subject to shareholder approval and other conditions.’

    “The ACCC has requested additional time to look at the issues and it’s as simple as that,” PMP spokesperson Rodd Pahl told Print21. “The holiday period intervened and what we understand is that they haven’t yet come to a view and have asked for more time to look at the issues. It’s no more complicated than that. PMP and IPMG have acceded to that request and the reality is that we are working constructively with the ACCC.”

    In an earlier call for submissions, the ACCC said its investigation of the proposed merger would be focused on the impact of competition:

    In particular, we are seeking your views on: whether printing prices will increase; how closely other suppliers of other printing services compete with PMP and IPMG; whether suppliers of catalogue and magazine printing services must use particular types of printing methods (for example, heat set web offset printing) to produce printed materials suitable for their customers’ needs; the extent to which suppliers of other printing services (for example, newspaper publishers) could competitively print catalogues and magazines; and the likelihood of new entry or expansion into the supply of catalogue and magazine printing services in Australia.

    'Together we are better placed to adapt to the realities of the Australian print industry': Matthew Bickford-Smith, chairman PMP

    At Friday’s extraordinary general meeting, PMP shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger, with 99 percent in favour of the deal.

    Before the vote, PMP chairman Matthew Bickford-Smith told shareholders:

    The board believes that market overcapacity makes this merger an important and necessary strategic response to sustain PMP’s future. It will enable us to extract the synergies required to remain competitive with this market. IPMG is a strong fit for PMP. It has similar, customer-focused values and commercial approach. Together we are better placed to adapt to the realities of the Australian print industry in the decade ahead.

    In the short term, the merger will deliver significant synergy benefits by retiring older equipment – in the process, and very importantly, removing some spare capacity out of our business. The Board expects the merger to deliver $40 million in annualised cost savings – for a one-off cash cost of $65 million – enabling payback in 12-24 months.

    According to the ACCC website, the commission plans to make an announcement on Thursday regarding its review of the proposal: 22nd December 2016 – Provisional date for announcement of ACCC’s findings (as outlined in the Informal Merger Review Process Guidelines, this may be a final decision or release of a Statement of Issues).

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Dominion Print buys Graphitype

    Kelvin Gage, CEO Dominion

    Sydney’s Dominion Print Group has acquired 30-year old commercial print business Graphitype Printing Services from retiring co-owners/directors Dave and Kath Morris.

    Early in the new year, most of the staff and some of the machinery from Graphitype’s operation at Kings Park in Sydney’s west will make the 20-minute trip across town to Dominion’s 3.5 thousand square metres of factory space in Silverwater.

    “Nobody’s gone broke so it’s really a good news story for the industry,” says Kelvin Gage, Dominion’s CEO. “I’ve known Dave and Kath for a while, we’ve worked together for years and I heard recently they were looking to retire. Both companies have shared a strong relationship over a number of years and this acquisition is mutually beneficial.

    “A lot of people in the industry hang on for too long until there’s nothing left, but Dave and Kath have decided ‘enough is enough’, they’ve found a buyer and it’s all gone very well.”

    Four years ago, the Graphitype co-owners sold the pharmaceutical arm of their business – which produced labels and leaflets for pharmaceutical customers – to a Canadian multinational for $7 million.

    Gage says Dominion Print is constantly on the lookout for good quality businesses to add to its operation.

    “They are a very solid commercial print business with a very good customer base and some terrific staff, most of whom will be making the move to Silverwater,” says Gage. The acquisition will boost Dominion’s staff numbers to about 60.  “We’re still finalising details but we’ll be taking a selection of key equipment from Graphitype and the older machines will be auctioned off.”

    The sale process is expected to be completed by early February.

     

     

  • Book industry slams Productivity Commission report

    “The Productivity Commission is like a deranged hairdresser insisting their client wears a mullet wig,” according to Man Booker Prize-winning Australian author Richard Flanagan.

    Authors, publishers, booksellers, literary agents and book printers, united as the #BooksCreate Australia alliance, have called on the government to reject the recommendations on copyright in the Productivity Commission’s Report on Australia’s Intellectual Property Arrangements, which they say offers no tangible consumer benefits yet risks a $2 billion creative industry.

    Bestselling author Flanagan described the report as: “predictable: an 80s ideology in search of a victim. The Productivity Commission is like a deranged hairdresser insisting their client wears a mullet wig.

    “At this time of economic difficulty, I hope the government rejects the report and seeks to help the book industry, its 20,000-strong work force, and the creators who bring Australia global good will, pay taxes and effectively receive no direct taxpayer subsidy,” says Flanagan.

    The Australian book industry invests in new printing technology, new Australian writers, creates culture and enhances national literacy and employs 20,000 fellow Australians, contributing $2 billion to our economy per annum, according to the #BooksCreate Australia alliance.

    “I would like to invite my old friend, Malcolm Turnbull, to make this a bipartisan matter,” says leading author, Thomas Keneally. “Comparison with New Zealand, which has done away with PIR, shows the book prices there are no cheaper. But the range, oh the range! ­— it is gone.”

    PIAA CEO Andrew Macaulay says: “The local print industry has invested in jobs and cutting edge technology to become highly efficient and responsive in the fast-moving contemporary book market. Any government that cares about jobs or growth in Australia will not adopt recommendations that would threaten that investment and have no benefit for consumers.”

    President of the Australian Publishers Association, Louise Adler, says: “The Productivity Commission has ignored more than 400 expert submissions in response to a draft report that was widely criticised as biased, based on narrow analysis and out-of-date data. Look at the Christmas bestseller lists that star Australian books up there alongside international blockbusters. Australians love reading great writing by Australian authors.

    “Back in 1998, New Zealand used this exact proposal suggested by the Commission to undermine territorial copyright and remove Parallel Importation Rules (PIRs). New Zealand book prices have dropped by 14% while Australian book prices have dropped by 25% since then. The range of books available to Australians has expanded while in New Zealand the range has shrunk by 34%. In New Zealand the proposals decimated an industry and their nation’s ability to tell the range of their own stories.

    “The US, UK and Europe have no plans to remove their versions of PIRs and territorial copyright. Why would we?” says Adler. “These proposals risk Australia’s ability to publish great Australian stories by the next generation of talent. Imagine an Australian childhood without books like Diary of a Wombat, Possum Magic, the Treehouse series; or great Australian writing like Cloudstreet and True History of the Kelly Gang.”

    CEO of Australia’s leading independent publisher, Allen and Unwin, Robert Gorman says: “Local publishers directly invest $120 million in Australian writers and the promotion of Australian stories each year. The Commission’s recommendations would jeopardise that investment and risk returning Australian writing to the days when London and New York publishers decided what Australians read.”

    Australians enjoy access to the largest network of independent bookshops in the English-language market, including winner of the Best International Bookshop – Readings Group of Melbourne (London Book Fair 2016). Co-owner of Sydney’s Gleebooks, David Gaunt says: “Local publishers produce around half of the books we sell to our 200,000 customers each year in store and online. There is no way that the abolition of PIRs will benefit the Australian consumer interested in sustaining the health of Australian writing and the industry underpinning it.

    “Across more than 40 years in bookselling, the most significant and positive change in our industry has been the phenomenal growth in the Australian publication of Australian writers. We have seen a substantial increase in Australian published books, produced to the highest international standards, increasingly efficient pricing and industry commitment to fast supply of international books within 14 days.”

    National Print Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Lorraine Cassin asks: “Why would the Productivity Commission want to bet against the Australian economy and an Australian industry that employs over 20,000 people? Its recommendations would negatively impact up to 66,000 jobs, many in regional Australia, and damage Australia’s chances to build a knowledge-based economy. There is nothing to recommend them.”

    The #BooksCreate Australia alliance has called on the Government to confirm its support of Australia’s book industry and its intention to uphold internationally recognised standards for all copyright holders.

     

     

  • That was the year – That was!

    Whew! What a year! Filled with surprises and disruption, 2016 is one for the records.  Rarely have landscapes changed so radically… politically, internationally, with wars and terrorism, with Brixit and Trump. In our own small pond of the Australian and New Zealand printing industry it was also a year of radical change. Plenty of crisis but along with that a great fund of hope and ambition to carry us forward towards 2017.

    Here’s a quick look back at some of the high and lows of a year to remember.

    January 2016

    Full Paragon catalogue up on 28 January

    Wednesday, 20 January 2016

    The complete catalogue of assets to be auctioned off from Paragon Australasia’s ACT site will be published by Graysonline on 28th January, the day that bidding begins.

    $1.5 billion boost from Bauer to PMP

    Thursday, 21 January 2016

    Gordon and Gotch has become the 800lb gorilla in magazine distribution as Australia’s largest magazine publisher quits its distribution business.

    PIAA revolution postponed – President resigns.

    Thursday, 28 January 2016

    A drive to hold the Printing Industries Board to account with a Special General Meeting runs out of steam as disaffected members claim their concerns are now being listened to following ‘recent developments.

    February 2016

    Heidelberg fires up for digital future

    Monday, 22 February 2016

    Offset giant seeks to balance its portfolio by introducing new inkjet digital presses for both the packaging and label sectors while expanding its services to the printing industry.

    Dick Smith drags down PMP profit

    Tuesday, 23 February 2016

    Australasia’s leading printer PMP has blamed the collapse of retail chain Dick Smith and customers supplying their own paper for a 58.8 per cent drop in half year profit.

    PIAA president pleads with members for unity

    Thursday, 25 February 2016

    The PIAA board will meet next week to ‘quickly address’ a range of issues raised in Tuesday’s emergency meeting between board members and the Members Action Group (MAG) over the direction of the peak industry body.

    March 2016

    Spicers bounces back into profit

    Tuesday, 01 March 2016

    Paper merchant Spicers, formerly PaperlinX, has bounced back from the collapse of its European operation to post a statutory profit after tax of $6.3 million for the six months to 31 December 2015, compared to a loss of $90 million for the prior corresponding period (pcp).

    Blue Star ramps up with four Fuji Xerox iGen5′s

    Tuesday, 29 March 2016

    Blue Star has signed a major deal to boost its production capabilities with the installation of four brand new Fuji Xerox iGen5 presses at its plants in Melbourne and Sydney.

    Landa challenges offset with Nanographic presses

    Thursday, 31 March 2016

    Never one to shy away from a big fight, Benny Landa, father of digital printing, is aiming to replace all offset printing with his revolutionary Landa Nanographic Printing Presses.

    April 2016

    PMP’s $22m digital deal for Griffin Press

    Wednesday, 06 April 2016

    Australasia’s leading printer PMP  has signed a mega deal with Currie Group to install a web-fed HP PageWide T410 inkjet, a HP Indigo 10000 B2 sheetfed and HP Indigo 7800 digital press.

    ‘No pay’ fight for printed bills

    Wednesday, 20 April 2016

    Consumers are being pressurised to switch to digital billing by companies that are charging for the privilege  to get a bill in the post.

    Andrew Macaulay named new PIAA CEO

    Thursday, 28 April 2016

    The PIAA has appointed Andrew Macaulay to replace Jason Allen as CEO after an extensive recruitment process involving over 100 applicants from within Australia and overseas.

    May 2016

    Takeover #10 for Focus with Sydney Allen

    Friday, 06 May 2016

    Takeover specialist Mark Shergill of Focus Print Group has signed a deal to acquire failed Sydney printing icon Sydney Allen, which collapsed into receivership last month.

    He’s gone! Neil Whittaker ejects from Fuji Xerox

    Wednesday, 18 May 2016

    Controversial Kiwi senior managing director of the leading Australian digital supplier has suddenly left the company following an audit by the Singapore HQ.

    Drupa 2016 is open – first impressions

    Tuesday, 31 May 2016

    While drupa’s public opening was on Tuesday, for your media correspondents, the press conferences start a day before.

    June 2016

     Battle joined at drupa for the future of printing

    Wednesday, 01 June 2016

    Competing technologies stake their claim as manufacturers lean away from commercial printing towards developing products for packaging print.

    Sacked workers save ALP election posters

    Wednesday, 22 June 2016

    Workers from a collapsed Sydney signage company have worked around the clock to complete a critical ALP order for a nationwide supply of election-day banners.

    Digital drives Currie success at drupa

    Friday, 24 June 2016

    Currie Group came into its own as the digital printing equipment supplier at this drupa. Reinforcing the Group’s preeminent position in the local market, in excess of 15 million dollars of business was signed at the show, predominantly made up of digital technologies.

    July 2016

    Snap shock – CEO Stephen Edwards resigns

    Tuesday, 05 July 2016

    Stephen Edwards has resigned as CEO of Snap Franchising after 15 years with the company.

    Wu walks after fall out with the Aboughattas

    Friday, 08 July 2016

    Managing director of Ability Press in Melbourne Docklands is accused of lying to his partners over last year’s high profile  merger.

    Longbeach Printing grinds to a halt

    Wednesday, 20 July 2016

    Leading Melbourne printer Longbeach Printing, an official supplier of the Australia Made campaign, has suddenly halted production.

    August 2016

    Access Print Solutions rescues Cadillac

    Friday, 26 August 2016

    Sydney’s Access Print Solutions has continued its national expansion by buying Adelaide web offset business Cadillac Printing that was to shut down this month

    IVE doubles profit to $20.9 million

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016

    IVE Group posted $20.9 million in profit for the full year, more than double the previous year, and increased revenue by 13 per cent to $382 million.

    Aboughattas brothers buy Wu’s On Demand

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016

    Leading Melbourne print group Mercedes Waratah, co-owned by Moody and Abbey Aboughattas, has scooped up Michael Wu’s collapsed digital print business On Demand.

    September 2016

    Starleaton steps up with DES takeover

    Thursday, 01 September 2016

    Ben Eaton has created a major new force in the printing, graphics and signage industry with his acquisition of Ian Clare’s supply business.

    $43 million loss for Fuji Xerox NZ

    Thursday, 08 September 2016

    Fuji Xerox New Zealand recorded a $43 million pre-tax loss for the year ending March and its Japanese-owned parent company is ready to step in to provide financial assistance “if necessary,” according to New Zealand’s National Business Review.

    Currie & HP power world 1st print line

    Friday, 09 September 2016

    The most productive HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press in the world plays an integral role in the unique PMP/Griffin Press book printing line that is turning the publishing paradigm upside down.

    October 2016

    Fuji Xerox staff cuts around the country

    Friday, 21 October 2016

    Reports of substantial redundancies in Fuji Xerox Australia are coming in from all states in Australia as management declares ‘no comment at this time.’

    Patterson beats Orel for Victorian board seat

    Friday, 28 October 2016

    Ron Patterson, former Victorian state secretary of the PIAA, will return to the association following his election to the board as representative for Victoria.

    It’s on again – PMP & IPMG $120 million merger

    Friday, 28 October 2016

    The two largest printing companies in the region are set to become one following the buyout of the Hannan-family’s Independent Print Media Group (IPMG) by publicly listed PMP.

    November 2016

    Final roll of the presses for Perth printers

    Friday, 04 November 2016

    About one hundred printers will be out of a job on Saturday after the final edition of The Sunday Times rolls through the presses at News Corp’s Perth Print.

    PCA members green light PIAA plan

    Thursday, 10 November 2016

    Members of the Packaging Council of Australia (PCA) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a plan to join the Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA).

    Management buy-out of Ferrostaal

    Wednesday, 30 November 2016

    Carsten Wendler, managing director, takes over the Australian and NZ printing and packaging supply business, renaming it Print & Pack Pty Ltd.

    December 2016

    IVE’s $116 million takeover of Franklin & AIW

    Monday, 05 December 2016

    Huge play in large format web offset (LFWO) will consolidate the sector into two players – IVE Group and PMP, once the mergers on the table complete.

    APN Outdoor leads oOh! into $1.6bn merger

    Wednesday, 14 December 2016

    Out-of-home advertisers APN Outdoor and oOh!media have signed a $1.6 billion “merger of equals” deal that will see with APN Outdoor shareholders taking 55 per cent of the newly merged group

    ACCC delays PMP/IPMG merger

    Tuesday, 20 December 2016

    PMP has been forced to delay its planned merger with IPMG by almost two months to allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to take a closer look at the proposed deal.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Spicers signs deal to break hybrid deadlock

    Paper company Spicers, formerly PaperlinX, has agreed to a plan that it hopes will end a long-running dispute with its hybrid shareholders and restore the company’s capital structure.

    Spicers told the ASX on Tuesday it had entered into a binding implementation agreement with The Trust Company (RE Services) – the Responsible Entity overseeing the $285 million PaperlinX Step-Up Preference Securities. The deal, conditional on a vote by both existing equity owners and preference securities holders, would see the hybrid-holders take a 68.3 per cent stake in the company.

    'We are starting to see a clear way ahead at last': Robert Kaye, chairman, Spicers

    Should both groups of shareholders agree to the plan, Spicers chairman Robert Kaye and non-executive director Michael Barker would stand down from the board and allow the new owners to nominate their own directors.

    “The Board recognises the sustained period of uncertainty experienced by Spicers stakeholders,” said Kaye. “Legacy conflicts between respective sets of security holders restrict Spicers’ ability to raise capital, pay dividends and for the market to determine the true value of the business. This in turn significantly limits Spicers’ commercial and financial options.”

    “If successful, the Proposed Transaction would result in current SPS unitholders owning more than two-thirds of the combined equity of the Company. We believe this is an optimal ratio, which provides the best opportunity to accommodate both sets of security holders, and offers value to both ordinary shareholders and SPS unitholders.”

    “Spicers has come through an exceptional period of disruption in core paper markets and its previous European operations. We are starting to see a clear way ahead at last, but the legacy issue of a complex capital structure still stands in the Company’s way. There will be no winners unless these issues are rationally confronted and resolved,” said Kaye.

    In its statement to the ASX, Spicers said the proposed agreement represents:
    – a 51.4% premium to the last SPS unit closing price of $9.00;
    – a 43.1% premium to the SPS unit 30-day Volume Weighted Average Price of $10.05;
    – a 55.5% premium to the SPS unit 60-day VWAP of $9.76.

    Simplifying the capital structure is a key pillar of the Spicers Board’s plans to unlock value for both sets of security holders and to put Spicers on a more sound and sustainable footing for the future. The Spicers Board believes that now is the right time for such a transaction, following the Company’s withdrawal from European operations in 2015 and a subsequent return to overall profitability in the 2016 financial year.

    The Spicers Board believes that a simplification of the capital structure is in the best interests of the Company, and both sets of security holders. If implemented, the Proposed Transaction will enable the Company to undertake a full range of commercial and financial activities beyond its current capabilities and which most listed entities take for granted, including access to capital raisings and consideration of larger-scale acquisitions.

    The Spicers board intends to unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the Shareholder Resolution. The shareholder vote has been scheduled for an extraordinary general meeting in April 2017.

     

     

  • Print duopoly the story of 2016: IndustryEdge

    The establishment of a duopoly in the commercial printing sector was the biggest story of 2016, according to industry bible IndustryEdge.

    “Our view is there was no bigger moment than the establishment of a rationalised duopoly in the commercial printing sector. The PMP and IPMG merger was followed almost immediately by the possibly inevitable drawing together of Franklin Web and AIW within the IVE Group,” says the December 2016 edition of IndustryEdge’s Pulp & Paper Edge.

    We expect to see the dynamics of paper, ink and chemical supplies change and for the role of merchants, importers and mill agents to change yet again. Conditions for suppliers will be clearer, but no less challenging.

    Duopolies have their challenges, as many suppliers to supermarkets in Australia – including tissue manufacturers – can attest. They can also present regulatory and competition challenges from other perspectives. But, in a small market, duopoly is infinitely preferable to a private monopoly.

    “The print sector’s mergers were overdue and utterly necessary,” according to IndustryEdge.

    They are likely, based on what industry participants are saying, to lead to further rational changes. Some of that will seem challenging and even be disruptive, but the longer-term health of the sector relies on its ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

    The difficulty is that as with all industrial scale rationalisations, there will simply have to be casualties. For some that will lead to an anxious and difficult 2017, but for others and for the sector overall, it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    ‘Mergers between majors’ were inevitable

    The result – two dominant players – will seemingly provide adequate competition in the large format web offset market, to satisfy the interests of the ACCC. That is, at least for clients and customers – those buying print.

    What is more difficult is the conditions that will exist for remaining printers in this sector of the market. Market opportunities for smaller players are typically greater where there are a larger number of participants at the top of the market. Consolidation and concentration will typically result in a tightening of the market, with margins squeezed by the pursuit of market share and full utilisation of capital equipment. All that suggests the position of those outside the big two will become more difficult, with their options contracted. While that will be challenging, in a market which may by some estimates by over-capacity by as much as 20%, the consolidations are necessary and overdue.

     

     

     

     

  • McCourt’s ReVerb: 2016 wrap and 2017 crystal ball

    Andy McCourt

    When the rooster crows at the break of dawn…“Look out your window, and I’ll be gone,” so goes the Bob Dylan lyric from Don’t think twice.

    By the end of January 2017, it will be the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar, possibly a good time for us all to wake up anew and face brand new days.

    The portent for the printing and allied industries must surely be this remarkable year that is drawing to a close; 2016 or the Year of the Monkey.

    It began with a deep fracturing at our peak industry body, the Printing Industries Association as former CEO Jason Allen pursued a change agenda that was a madcap mix of a major staff restructuring, asset sales, ignoring core membership needs and what appeared to be an ingrained belief that the printing industry was finished and needed to be saved by his action plan. Except there was no action plan. One was never produced but the daily chaos continued until, outraged, almost the entire Queensland membership plus others, were prepared to resign en masse from the association. https://print21.com.au/piaa-board-should-go-quietly-now-andy-mccourts-reverb/99608

    A Members’ Action Group was formed and the unprecedented step of a call for an Special General Meeting to vote no confidence in the board and administration was met with postponements and behind-the-scenes talks: https://print21.com.au/piaa-postpones-sgm-for-two-weeks/100662

    By mid February, Allen had gone and so had former President David Leach. The board then entered a period of musical chairs with appointments and resignations https://print21.com.au/jason-allen-takes-an-early-mark/100242 . By March there were four vacant seats on a board of nine.

    Cool heads prevail

    Happily, cool heads, common sense and diligence entered the fray and the result is a marvelously re-engineered industry association with a stable new board and a more complete knowledge of our industry. Hats off to all those who made this happen.

    Change, of course, is both inevitable and good but it has to be managed and managed proficiently. This applies to both business processes and technology. It’s like the old signal boxes on railways; pull the right levers and trains switch tracks in the right direction and at the right times. Pull the wrong one and you get a train wreck.

    As 2016 progressed, there was more monkeying around with mergers, take-overs, creative deals, phoenixing of companies, liquidations and creditors not getting paid. It started to change just as the monkey was cavorting back to the jungle and the rooster was about to crow.

    The tail-end of 2016 has seen two mergers that will re-shape our industry. Listed PMP will, subject to final ACCC okay, acquire IPMG, with the Hannan family scooping a tidy 37% of PMP shares; and listed IVE Group (Bluestar) will merge Franklin Web and AIW into its organization. This is change management that had to happen – we have over-capacity in web offset.

    The two listed, expanded, print entities are also deeply involved in new media, e-marketing, direct mail, mobile communications and creative agency work. They are sure to find the right balance where print meshes with new media and finds its proper place.

    Challenges for mid-size printers

    The hard yards are in the middle ground, in between the top end of print-town and the SMEs that are lean, mean, digital and maneuverable. Mid-size printers still have high capital costs to contend with but operate in a tight margin environment where payback times are long and older equipment struggles to cope. The only ones I see doing well are the trade printers as they are able to operate high-capex equipment 24/7 and service a broader client base – mostly other printers and print managers.

    Pockets of growth are there, with labels, packaging, wide format sign & display and photobooks still looking strong. Even book printing received a huge digital boost with the opening on PMP-Griffin’s stunning new HP and Kolbus-equipped plant in Salisbury, SA. https://print21.com.au/pmps-22m-digital-deal-for-griffin-press/103274

    And so to the Year of the Rooster – and PacPrint. Given that most uninformed people think printing is dead – an annoying meme that refuses to accept evidence to the contrary – Australia’s largest industrial trade fair will amaze and educate them if they care to go along in May.

    Who will be the buyers? My betting is that it will be a well-attended show by the SME workaholics who are right up with digital production on every level. Co-located with Visual Impact, we will see a huge surge in wide format visitors who may be tempted to venture into cut-sheet production. It’s already happening on the other side, with many offset printers ramping up their wide format departments with flatbed UVs, automated cutters, laminators and so on.

    The big guys have gotten bigger already. It’s time for the smaller nifty operations to flex their muscle. 80 percent of PIAA membership has traditionally been SME family-run and partnership businesses. Nothing has really changed except that the previous regime was missing the boat in bringing in the newer breed of sign and display digital printers who don’t identify with the past glories of letterpress, hand etching, film combining etcetera. If they see a digital cut-sheet press and think their customers might buy the booklets, brochures and business cards it can produce; they will buy one and run it successfully. The only weasel to be fumigated is the click-charge which is something they are not used to.

    A brand new PacPrint for 2017

    PacPrint 2017 is the first such show to be co-located with Visual Impact and will attract a whole new audience of younger, creative types to whom printing is the natural expression of their ideas, along with Instagram, Facebook, websites et al. Take vehicle-wrapping for example; the skills required to design, produce and apply a full car wrap are every bit as complicated and demanding as the ‘old black-art skills’ of trade offset and letterpress and yet the offset business world has largely ignored this high-growth sector because ‘it’s just not us and it’s all too hard.’

    The fusion of sign and display and even photography, with commercial & packaging offset and digital print is not a myth – PacPrint 2017 (and former PrintEx shows) is the evidence. Our industry should recognise as has our peak association; already fusing the Packaging Council into its organization and seeking more co-operations.

    I have a good feeling about 2017 for print. Sectors of the ‘e-this and that’ world are already being seen as naked Emperors. The measurability that they once touted as the unique advantage over print is turning back on them in that the metrics may be there, but they often measure failure of campaigns. Why would Aldi, Coles, Woolies, Myer, David Jones stick with printed catalogues?? Because they work or because they fail? They work of course but make no mistake, e-commerce is a juggernaut that will roll on.

    I personally know of three bright high-school mates who started an e-buying internet business in 2009 with a few borrowed thou and have just completed the sale of it to a US-global concern for $45 million. With the possible exception of Wellcom – who in the print world is thinking this way?

    Roll on 2017 – I think the Rooster will wake a lot of us up and stir us to action. As the Nobel-prize winning Mr Dylan also sang: “The times they are a’changing.”

    I leave you with the very best of warm wishes for a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year, and a picture of a Christmas tree made entirely of books. To all those who hang on to the great lie that ‘books kill trees’ – please take note.

     

     

  • Jet Tech opens ink centre in Jakarta

    (l-r) Anthony Tan (Pulse Roll Label Products, SEA), Sadrah (Jet Tech Indonesia), Jack Malki (Jet Tech Indonesia), Gary Seward (Pulse Roll Label Products, UK) and George Lyle (Pulse Roll, SEA).

    Jet Technologies has completed its purpose-built climate controlled ink distribution centre at its in plant in Jakarta, where it will feature the UV flexo PureTone range from UK-based narrow-web print specialist Pulse Roll Label Products.

    The ink centre features a fully equipped laboratory staffed by local ink technicians to support client demand in the region. This builds on the long-term partnership that Jet Technologies and Pulse Roll Label Products have enjoyed in the ANZ region for close to ten years.

    “After a very successful roadshow, where Jet Technologies and Pulse Roll Label Products demonstrated the PureTone ink range with live demonstrations, momentum continues to build throughout SE Asia and Australasia with more and more clients choosing the revolutionary UV flexo ink system,” said a spokesperson for Sydney-based supplier Jet Tech.

    “PureTone is changing how narrow web printers work with colour and includes mono-pigmented mixing bases which create higher strength colours compared to other ink ranges. The entire system is driven by the latest InkFormulation Software and database to produce extremely accurate and clean pantone and spot colours.”

    Gary Seward, MD, Pulse Roll Label Products said, “We understand how critical it is for brand owners to have accurate and standardised colour. We also wanted to develop an innovative ink solution for the narrow web printer to support a more efficient production workflow offering complete pre-press colour control and optimum print quality.”

    Jet Technologies is a specialist distributor of products to the rigid and flexible packaging industry, the industrial manufacturing industry and the print and finishing industry.

     

     

  • Komori to focus on innovation in 2017

    Komori Graphic Center - The Netherlands

    Best wishes for the new year.

    Komori Corporation will renew its spirit in the pursuit of innovation to drive changes, rather than following them.

    Satoshi Mochida, president Komori

    During 2016, the overall global economy was less than robust, due in part to the deceleration of economic growth in China. Looking at the printing industry, in Japan, printing company profits seem to be improving due to steady trends in the advertising market. In Europe, business sentiment toward capital expenditure has grown warmer thanks to gradual economic recovery. In the United States, although print demand got back on the recovery track, printing companies remained cautious about upgrading their facilities. In China, demand remained sluggish due to the deceleration of economic growth and the deterioration of the financial environment. In India and some ASEAN nations, print demand was firm, fueling demand for printing machinery upgrades, as these markets have been largely unaffected by falling resource prices and currency depreciation.

    Komori’s initiatives in 2016 covered many activities, including participation in international exhibitions, transforming the business structure (expansion of new businesses), and overseas expansion of our security printing press business.

    Above all, held every four years, drupa is the world’s largest printing equipment exhibition. Our demonstration was themed “OPEN NEW PAGES,” with the subtheme of “Connected Print.” In line with these themes, our proposals were centred on integrating printing processes to create new solutions. More specifically, we exhibited in front of a global audience the Impremia IS29 digital printing system and the solution cloud KP-Connect that enables visualization of the printing processes. This provided a prime example of our solutions that enable users to perform value-added services by connecting digital and offset printing presses. We are confident that the demonstration of this and other offerings helped us gain greater recognition among customers worldwide with regard to our PESP business approach. Komori has grown beyond the manufacture of offset printing presses. We are transforming into a provider of comprehensive print engineering service solutions.

    Komori’s security printing machinery business enjoyed orders for security printing machines from Crane Currency, one of the fastest growing banknote printers in the world, the Reserve Bank of India and Perum Percetakan Uang Republik Indonesia.

    To bolster products supporting printing quality and productivity in the PESP business, Komori and Siegwerk have signed a manufacturing and supply agreement for high sensitivity UV ink, a K-Supply product offering high quality and performance, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). From now on, we will supply “K-Supply ink” optimized for Komori’s H-UV system to the market. Fortunately, the reception of orders for H-UV presses will exceed 800 machines at the beginning of 2017.

    Development efforts in collaboration with partners have been under way to create two types of next-generation commercial digital printing presses capable of accommodating needs for small print runs, multiple printed items, short turnarounds, and variable data printing. The Impremia IS29, a 29-inch sheetfed UV inkjet digital printing system developed in partnership with Konica Minolta, was demonstrated at KGC facilities in Japan, the United States and Europe, and subsequently we initiated full-scale marketing of the system in April 2016. We will strive to promote this model utilizing our KGC facilities in Japan and overseas.

    Additionally, the Impremia NS40, a 40-inch Nanographic Printing

    system developed with the Israel-based Landa Corporation, provided customers with innovative solutions and received resounding applause in demonstrations at drupa 2016.

    As the outlook of the global economy gets murkier, there is a growing sense of future uncertainty in the business environment surrounding the Company. In this economic and industrial climate, Komori Corporation will nevertheless push forward with its initiatives aimed at achieving transformation, promoting the PESP business approach, expanding the range of its marketing and securing a corporate structure capable of delivering broader product and service lineups. We will further strengthen cooperation with the printing industry, pursue customer convenience and support improvement of the profit structure of the entire industry. Our management philosophy, realization of customer Kando, remains our goal in the New Year, and Komori will continue to create solutions for mutual growth.

    Komori will make every effort to meet your expectations.

    Satoshi Mochida
    President and Representative Director

     

     

  • Einstein’s relative found in Gold Coast – theoretically

    Astounding discovery of Harry Brelsford’s link to Swiss genius proves special theory of general relativity is more widespread than first suspected.

    They laughed when the Varsity Graphics director first claimed affinity with Albert Einstein but they changed their minds at the speed of light when the indomitable Harry held up at copy of the latest Print21 magazine. As their disbelief was threatened under the weight of Harry’s gravitational force, time and space warped under E= MC, and a black hole opened up over Surfers Paradise that threatened to swallow Australia’s favourite holiday destination.

    It was only when Varsity staff afforded him the proper respect he felt was due to him as the doppelganger of the famous physicist and posted the photo on the Varsity Graphics website that the worm hole in time and space closed and holiday makers were able to go back to enjoying Sea World, Dreamworld and Wet’n’Wild.

    The Varsity staff then went on to enjoy a slap up at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, just south of Burleigh Heads.

     

  • Starleaton – Season’s Greetings

    At the end of a year filled with significant changes for Starleaton, including the acquisition of DES, the Family Eaton wish all their customers and staff a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year: (left to right): Josh, Melissa, father Peter and Ben Eaton.

    To top off an exciting year,  Starleaton has welcomed the acquisition of its major wide format supplier Neschen AG by private equity firm Blue Cap – a listed Munich-based investment company with an established profile in the graphic arts sector.

    “We are very positive about Blue Cap’s acquisition of Neschen Coating GmbH and subsidiary Filmolux,” says Ben Eaton, CEO of Starleaton, which recently expanded via its acquisition of DES. “Blue Cap is not a typical private equity company in that it does not have exit strategies from the word ‘go.’ It invests in medium-sized companies driven by technology and improves and runs them for the long-term.

    “It is also heavily vested in the printing and graphic arts market with its ownership of the Planatol Adhesives Company and Biolink UV acrylate adhesives plus Gämmeler post-press systems,” says Eaton.

    “Neschen is a very important and long-standing supplier for Starleaton, which fits our passion for highest quality, reliable and well-backed materials for our customers. With Blue Cap as the new owner, I could not be more delighted about the stability and future for Starleaton and Neschen.”

    Former Neschen plant & production manager Kai Tittgemeyer has been appointed managing director of Neschen Coating GmbH.

    Neschen has an illustrious history and celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2014. The company remains headquartered in Bückeberg, Germany. It develops and manufactures roll media, coatings and laminates used in the wide-format graphic arts disciplines plus films and papers used by libraries, museums, galleries and bookbinders for the repair and preservation of fine books and artworks.

     

     

  • Starleaton – ‘thanks for a great year.’

    At the end of a year filled with significant changes for Starleaton, including the acquisition of DES, the Family Eaton wish all their customers and staff a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year: (left to right): Josh, Melissa, father Peter and Ben Eaton.

    To top off an exciting year,  Starleaton has welcomed the acquisition of its major wide format supplier Neschen AG by private equity firm Blue Cap – a listed Munich-based investment company with an established profile in the graphic arts sector.

    “We are very positive about Blue Cap’s acquisition of Neschen Coating GmbH and subsidiary Filmolux,” says Ben Eaton, CEO of Starleaton, which recently expanded via its acquisition of DES. “Blue Cap is not a typical private equity company in that it does not have exit strategies from the word ‘go.’ It invests in medium-sized companies driven by technology and improves and runs them for the long-term.

    “It is also heavily vested in the printing and graphic arts market with its ownership of the Planatol Adhesives Company and Biolink UV acrylate adhesives plus Gämmeler post-press systems,” says Eaton.

    “Neschen is a very important and long-standing supplier for Starleaton, which fits our passion for highest quality, reliable and well-backed materials for our customers. With Blue Cap as the new owner, I could not be more delighted about the stability and future for Starleaton and Neschen.”

    Former Neschen plant & production manager Kai Tittgemeyer has been appointed managing director of Neschen Coating GmbH.

    Neschen has an illustrious history and celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2014. The company remains headquartered in Bückeberg, Germany. It develops and manufactures roll media, coatings and laminates used in the wide-format graphic arts disciplines plus films and papers used by libraries, museums, galleries and bookbinders for the repair and preservation of fine books and artworks.

     

     

  • Issue 870 – December 16, 2016

    It’s never been easier to get into the printing industry. The barriers to entry are incredibly low, with equipment suppliers almost flooding the market with deals. I hear of many printers signing on for leases with little upfront investment based on very optimistic volume targets. Dropping prices won’t save them if their business model is not up to scratch. But they drag the whole industry down trying to win volume through price attrition.

    Dropping boxes is bad business. It’s time the industry addressed the issue.

    Welcome to your latest issue of Print21, the premier news and information service for the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

     

     

  • Bickford-Smith rallies PMP votes for merger

    UPDATE: PMP shareholders have overwhelmingly voted to approve the company’s merger with IPMG, with 99 percent in favour of the deal.

    At an extraordinary general meeting this morning, Matthew Bickford-Smith, chairman PMP Limited, urged shareholders to approve the merger, saying IPMG is a strong fit for PMP. “It has similar, customer-focused values and commercial approach. Together we are better placed to adapt to the realities of the Australian print industry in the decade ahead. In the process, we will create a more efficient and sustainable PMP – and value for our clients and our shareholders,” Bickford-Smith said.

    PMP chairman Matthew Bickford-Smith.

    Bickford-Smith said the merger would deliver $40 million in annualised cost savings for a one-off cash cost of $65 million, which would enable payback in 12-24 months. He told shareholders that the deal would enable PMP to more effectively compete in the catalogue printing and distribution market. “The merged company will be able to optimise its print fleet and invest in the latest digital technology to meet the ongoing demand for integrated, end-to-end print and distribution solutions. The result will be a more efficient, sustainable and agile organisation, far better positioned to adapt to industry change in the future,” he said.

    If the deal goes ahead, PMP will acquire 100 percent of shares in IPMG, and the Hannan family will be issued new shares in PMP totalling 37 percent of the combined company. Michael Hannan, Executive Chairman of IPMG, and Stephen Anstice, Former CEO of IPMG and current Chairman of CSG Ltd, will join PMP’s board of directors under the agreement.

    The deal will now have to pass the ACCC’s public review, which will hand down a decision next Thursday December 22, in order to proceed.

  • Changing of the guard at manroland

    Steve Dunwell, MD manroland Australasia

    Well-known industry identity Steve Dunwell is retiring after 40 years in the business, including the past seven years as managing director at the helm of manroland Australasia.

    He announced the appointment of  former sheetfed manager, Dennis Wickham as the new managing director with Andreas Schwoepfinger, previously web-fed services as the new director of technical services. The changes, and Dunwell’s retirement, will come into effect at the start of February next year.

    He is retiring with the company logging consistent growth and at least $20 million in orders for next year. “I’m very happy to be leaving the company in such good shape,” he told Print21.

    Dunwell arrived at manroland in 2009 following six years with Currie Group as NSW Manager, and steered the local operation through a challenging period after former parent MAN Roland went broke and was split into two companies.

    In 2012, manroland web and manroland sheetfed were bought out of bankruptcy by German industrial conglomerate Possehl and English entrepreneur Tony Langley respectively.  Possehl picked up the web press division, along with its Australian company, while Langley came in to take over the sheetfed part of the company.

    Both manroland businesses are now back in the black and at drupa 2016, manroland web said it had increased its market share, even though the over-all volume of web presses sold was in decline.

    Dunwell told Print21 at drupa that the success was largely down to the character of the two owners.

    “We’re extraordinarily lucky in our two new owners. They have given us financial security even as they are pushing us to improve. In Australasia we’ve exceeded our targets over the past four years, contributing 12 percent of the total revenue, well above our weight.”

    An official retirement party – titled The End of An Era – will be held in February 2017 at the Banjo Patterson Cottage Restaurant in Gladesville.

     

    manroland web enjoying drupa 2016 - (l-r) Daniel Raffler, vice president, and Steve Dunwell, managing director Australasia