Posts Tagged ‘Richard Rasmussen’

  • Richard Rasmussen’s Market Watch – February 2013

    Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen wraps up what was perhaps one of the most tumultuous months on record for the local printing industry

    If we’ve seen another month like last month, I’d like to hear about it.

    Obviously, the month was headlined by GEON initially announcing a change of ownership, and then later going into receivership. All is still not clear, with new owners wanting to trade on in a yet to be disclosed different business makeup, and suppliers wanting to be paid out for previous debts and cutting supply. No doubt March will provide more clarity as to whether GEON survives or emerges in a different format.

    Around the corner in Melbourne, Vega Press also entered receivership. Founded in 1960, they are one of Melbourne’s largest, high quality A1 / A2 commercial printers.

    In Port Melbourne, one of Melbourne’s largest print management groups, Complete Print Solutions (CPS) and Fox Print, were purchased by OfficeMax. Later in the month CPS entered administration.

    Amcor had one plant closure, a paperboard mill in QLD, and one opening, a recycled paper mill in NSW.

    A magazine publisher, Australian Media Group, entered liquidation, and finally QLD printer, Cynergy Printing entered administration.


    Locally long-standing supplier, Plunkett and Johnson, went into voluntary administration and BJ Ball purchased Graph-Pak. Also, Kissel and Wolf completed its acquisition of Sefar Printing division and started trading as Kiwo Australia in Jan 13.

    Globally, Xerox purchased ink jet maker, Impika, and Plockmatic purchased bindery manufacturer, Morgana.

    Major machinery sales and installations

    Perhaps the biggest news in this sector was CMYKhub’s (VIC) announcement that they had purchased a new Komori 8 colour G 40 H-UV press.

    Panprint (NZ) installed a Rotocontrol slitter / rewinder and Digital Press (NSW), installed a Chameleon workflow W2 P system.

    Businesses on the market

    Ascent Partners has a new business on the market – a highly profitable A2 / A3 / digital printer, turning over $5 million plus and are soon to list a very successful print management company. Other businesses in VIC, QLD and NSW are also listed on our web site.

    Market Watch

    More details on the above stories can be found here on our web site:, where you can download this edition and previous editions or subscribe to our Market Watch bulletin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1.     Market Watch

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

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

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

    Starting number of printers 1.1.12


    New entrants (an educated guesstimate)


    Business Closures (due to financial distress)


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


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


    Sum remaining


    Of sum remaining those that experienced financial stress in 2012


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




    Total experiencing financial stress during 2012


    (25% of starting number)

    Will the trend continue in 2103?

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

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

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

    Starting number of printers – 1.1.13


    New entrants


    Business Closures (due to financial distress)


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


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


    Sum remaining


    Of sum remaining those that will experience financial stress during 2013


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


    Total under financial stress during 2013


    (25% of starting number)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1.     Be objective and realistic and seek advice.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    4.     What’s the value of your clients?

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

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

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

    5.     Do something!

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

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


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

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

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

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

  • Richard Rasmussen’s Market Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Machinery Sales and Installations.

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

    Other installations reported in Dec 12 were:

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

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

    Businesses for Sale / Businesses Wanted

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

  • Market Watch – November 2012

    Ascent Partners director, Richard Rasmussen, reflects on November’s major business sales, acquisitions, closures, consolidations and relocations.  A large volume of machinery sales and installations are also reported.   

    Market Movements:

    No prizes for guessing the leading news story last month – the sale of Bluestar’s Australian operation to Caxton Web / Wolseley Private Equity.

    Further consolidation of major plants continued with News Limited closing its Cairns facility and moving it into its Townsville plant. PMP also announced the closure of its Chullora Directories plant.

    November also saw further business liquidations – Good impressions (NSW), Brite Solutions (NSW), Kudos Colour (QLD) and a voluntary administration at Hyde Park Press (SA).

    In other news,

    • Across the Tasman, APN announced they were selling their South Island mastheads Christchurch’s The Star, The Oamaru Mail and Wellington’s Capital Community Newspaper Group)
    • Kwik Kopy City (Sydney) store was sold
    • Colorpak opened its Brandpak site in Victoria
    • Kosdown Printing (VIC) relocated to purpose built factory

    The suppliers were also active:

    • AIP Private Equity bought Presstek
    • EFI bought Technique
    • The Printing Industries Association bought Intech Australia
    • Pro – Pac bought Source and Sell and Stronghold Wholesale
    • Artref WA moved into a new showroom / warehouse

     Major Equipment Sales and Installations

    November provided a multitude of new machinery sales and installations.

    On the offset side, KBA reported 4 new Rapida 105 or 106 presses were installed in the financial year ending 2012, whilst Heidelberg reported they had sold 37 printing units of their new SX range including a sale to Apex Printing in Wellington. A Komori LS 29 installation was reported at Sydney’s Dominion Print Group and a KBA Genius 52 UV was installed at IBIS (QLD).

    There were also numerous multiple installations to single printers:

    • CMYK Hub (VIC) – Muller E90 gatherer, stitcher, trimmer, 3 x Horizon (PUR binder, folder and Stitchliner), Stahl TH 82, and Indigo 5600
    • Greenridge Press (QLD) – Indigo 3550, Polar system, Horizon folder
    • Maxam Printing (VIC) – 3 x Horizon (Stitch and trim, folder and PUR binder)

    Digital Presses and digital wide format installations included:

    • Admark Visual Imaging (NZ) – Epson Surepress (digital label)
    • Schoolpix (VIC) – Indigo 5600
    • Kawana Signs (QLD) – Oce Arizona 550 GT with Procut
    • Smartprint Group (QLD) – Oce Arizona 360 GT
    • Clegg Media (QLD) and Catalyst Graphics (NSW) – An Agfa Jetti 3220 Titan wide format each

    On the bindery / finishing side we saw Award Printing (QLD) install a KTM 92 guillotine and Centurion Print and Crucial Colour, both from NZ, each installed a Morgana Digifold folder / creaser.

    For more information on the above market movement and industry sales and installations, visit Ascent Partners web site, and Download a PDF which has links to each of the above stories.  You can subscribe to Market Watch for free, just completion the application form on the web site. We publish the bulletin at the start of each month.

    Businesses on the market.

    Ascent Partners have five print related businesses on the market spread the Eastern states. We’re also talking to a few more. So if you’re in the market to buy or sell, contact me, Richard Rasmussen, on the web site, or on the mobile – 0402 021 101.

  • Ascent Partners Market Watch – October 2012

    Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen looks at all the major mergers, acquisitions, administrations, installations and sales in the local printing industry over the past month.

    There were some major multi-million dollar “market movements” last month:

    • Amcor – with the $22,000,000 sale of three Aperio sites (flexo packaging) to local player, Integrated Packaging and with the operational opening of their $300,000,000 recycled paper mill in Botany.
    • Book publishers, Penguin and Random House proposed a merger which may have a major effect on the local printers, PMP and Opus.
    • Geon’s bankers, Bank of Scotland International, are selling off a portfolio of “distressed corporate loans” which included $80,000,000 to Gresham Private Equity.
    • The Salmat BPO $375,000,000 sale transaction was completed with Fuji Xerox taking over and renaming the business Fuji Xerox Document Management Solutions.

    Blue Star was also in the news with the announcement that TMA has withdrawn from looking at its purchase.  Rumours are now circulating as to other possible suitors.

    Opus announced that it was closing the McPherson’s Mulgrave site, with its major equipment being relocated to its ACT and Maryborough plants.

    On the acquisition front we saw Excell Printing (NSW) purchase liquidated printer, Bay Print, and Print Approach (QLD) purchase Nicholson Printers.

    There were two winding up applications: Universal Business Forms (NSW) and End Print Solutions (NSW), and one liquidation of print broker, All Can Print (NSW).

    On the Supplier side, Ricoh purchased IMC Communications and EFI purchased Online Print Solutions.

    Major Equipment Sales and Installations

    Some significant installations were reported including:

    • Computershare (Qld) – Ricoh Infoprint 5000
    • Media Point (Vic) – HP FB700 digital flatbed
    • Next Print (NSW) – Durst Rho P10 250 Inkjet printer
    • Alphabet Publishing (QLD) – Screen Truepress Jet 520 inkjet printer
    • Bokay Group (WA) – HP Scitex FB 7600
    • Megacolour (NSW) – IN mid 2012, a Heidelberg CD 102 – 6  and Screen Platerite HD 8900 Imager
    • Retail Communications (Vic) – Fuji Film Inca Onset SI 40 inkjet flatbed.

    Isn’t it interesting to see the change in the industry that the above sample of installations reflects? Also, the names / types of businesses that are buying? A few years ago, perhaps pre-GFC, the list would look very different.

    Market Watch

    For further information on past month’s stories, see our Market Watch web page,, or subscribe (FOC) to our monthly bulletin.

  • Market Watch – September 2012

    Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen looks at all the major mergers, acquisitions, administrations, installations and sales in the local printing industry for the month of September.

    The administrations continued in the month of September, with the largest being Tasmanian forestry group Gunns, who went into voluntary administration after the banks pulled their funding. That puts around 600 jobs at risk, and raises a big question mark against its (AU)$2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill investment. In FY 2012 Gunns made a $904 million loss.

    Other administrations included Printworld International, a print management firm in NSW, Printmode, an A2 commercial printer in Melbourne, and Kea Print (NSW) who went into liquidation. Allprint & Packaging in QLD is due to have a creditor’s meeting for voluntary creditor’s liquidations early in October.

    CBD Printing in Sydney fell into voluntary administration earlier in the month, with a later announcement stating that the four Snap centres under the group had been purchased by former chief executive, Richard Cook.

    On the acquisition front, the major news was that a German media company, Bauer Media Group, purchased ACP Magazines for around $500 million.

    A merger was announced between Melbourne digital printer, Docucopy, and long standing commercial offset Printer, Troedel. This merger will create a $6 million turnover business.

    Fairfax also announced during the month that they were planning to build a new press hall in their North Richmond premises.

    Major equipment sales and installs

    Perhaps the biggest news of the month was Southern Colour’s (Vic) purchase of two Heidelberg XL 106 presses, a ten-colour perfector and six colour and coater to replace two four year old XL presses.

    Also on the offset side came the announcement of a KBA 105 six colour press installed at Labelcraft in NSW.

    After a fire swept through it in February, Special Binding Service in QLD, made perhaps the largest bindery investment for many  years, announcing it had purchased:

    • Two Kolbus perfect binders
    • Two MBO folders
    • An Meccanotecnica Aster Sewing machine
    • Two guillotines with joggers and unloaders
    • And other ancillary bindery equipment.

    Gallus had success with installations of its ECS 340 Label Press at Dragon Print (NSW) and Impact Labels (QLD).

    Other sales / installations included:

    • Fineline Printing (Vic) installed a Kodak Nexpress
    • Prologica (Vic) installed an Oce Arizona double bed 550 XT
    • Central Imaging Technolgies (QLD) installed an Agfa Anapura M2540 digital flat bed
    • Discus (WA) installed the Jeti 3020 wide format press.

    Businesses on the market

    We have six print related businesses on the market in VIC, NSW and QLD covering a wide cross section of the industry – details can be found on our web site,

    Market Watch

    For further information on past month’s stories, see our Market Watch web page,, or subscribe (FOC) to our monthly bulletin.

  • Market Watch – July / August 2012.

    If you thought there was an end in sight to the ongoing industry consolidation, think again, as Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen highlights the industry’s biggest consolidations.

    Blue Star, having fielded offers on their business, decided to engage Goldman Sachs to sell its business. That was announced on 24 August, so we all wait on next developments.  One component is already in the process of being sold, Rapid Labels (NZ) to the Tiri Group.

    PMP also announced it cut TMA from the process of conducting further due diligence on its business because of lack of proof of its financial wherewithal.  TMA later announced they were going to open a factory in the Philippines and then PMP announced a 25% cut to their web press fleet. Whether these two later events are related to first is unknown.


    There were plenty of announcements in the first two months of FY 13:

    • Amcor buys Wayne Richardson Sales
    • Lorimer (VIC) buys Gumming and Varnishing Sales
    • CCL Labels buys Graphitype Printing Services’ pharma business (NSW) for $7 million
    • Champ purchases Eye for $120 million plus
    • Paperlinx buys Canterbury Packaging (NZ)
    • Brand Print Australia buys Visibility Event Signage
    • Prographica buys McDowell Creative (NSW)
    • Fuji Film buys Salmat’s BPO division for $375 million

    Management Buys Outs (MBO) and Mergers

    There were three MBOs reported – Zip Print (NT), Fineline Printing (VIC) and Doran Printing (VIC), one co – location proposal (McPersons into Vega), and one proposed merger (Good Impressions with Sydney Allen).

    Closures / Creditor’s meetings:

    These included Elephant Print Media VIC (Wound up), Mr Copy NSW (creditor’s meeting), Printergy VIC (Voluntary Administration).

    We also saw Goprint (QLD) announce they intended to close and the training facility / program at RMIT (VIC) was taken over by an independent, CLB Training and Development.


    Here we saw Mathias Bauerle go into administration and a bid by AIP (owners of Mark Andy) to buy Presstek. Weddenrnburn (NZ) announced it would move to larger premises in Mt Wellington, and Anitech is to close its ACT premises.

    Sales and Installation of Equipment.

    There was a substantial volume of major plant sold and installed in the first two months of FY13:

    Offset Presses

    Heidelberg announced it had sold 18 Speedmasters in the last six months, locations undisclosed. KBA advised they have sold large format presses to Labelcraft (VIC) and PMS Lithography (VIC). Komori installed a press at Centurion Print (NZ).


    • Xerox – 800 & 1000 presses installed at  Superprint (NZ), an IGen 4 to Complete Colour (VIC) and another 800 to Meteor Design and Print (NZ)
    • HP – Magnify Media (VIC), a Scitex FB 7600, Discus Digital (WA) an Indigo 7600, and Centurion (NZ) an Indigo 5600
    • Canon / Oce – A1 Instant Printing, a Canon ImagePress C7010VP, and Aust Post (2 x Colourstream 3700).
    • Ricoh, a ProC651 printer was installed at Icon Print (NZ)
    • Lanier, a PROC751 Ex digital printer was installed at Siris Printing (NZ).

    Bindery / Finishing

    • Kolbus – Special Equipment (QLD) ordered two Kolbus Perfect Binders and Hannanprint a third.
    • Special Equipment also ordered 3 new folders, and a sewing machine.
    •  Polar – KW Doggetts purchased a 137N and a 115N
    • Sitma – Future Sources (NSW) purchased a 950 E plastic wrapper
    • Ferag – An Easysert Inserter was sold to Future Sources

    There were other sales and installations reported –see our web site,

    Businesses on the Market

    Ascent Partners have some good size commercial printers on the books along the Southern and Eastern Seaboard. Also we have a couple of smaller ones in Vic and some hopefully about to come on the books around the country. See our web site for further details, where you can also register your interest.

    Next month we resume the first Tuesday of the month’s summary of Market Watch. You can receive the email edition of our monthly bulletin free by subscribing on our web site. This also carries the links to stories as reported in the trade press.

  • Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review Pt. 5

    Part 5 –Major Equipment sales and installations   

    In this the final part of Ascent Partners Market Watch – FY 12, a year in Review, Richard Rasmussen lists all the reported major machinery sales and installations.

    If ever you wanted proof of the rapid change in our industry, look no further than this list.

    Despite what the doomsayers in our industry spruik, there has been some significant investment in new equipment. What has changed however is the profile of the equipment that has gone into our market – it shows the rise and rise of digital equipment installations – wide format, midsized and high end. With those digital installations comes the corresponding large volume of ancillary bindery equipment. We also see the fairly sparse investment in traditional offset equipment.  High speed inkjet machines are entering the market and there has also been a fair share of CtP devices that have been installed.

    Unfortunately, once again this is not to be seen as a definitive list, as its source is mainly from what has been reported in the trade press. Clearly far greater volumes were sold and installed. The lack of sales and installations from a particular vendor could be a function of them, or their customer, not wanting to have the installation reported. In many instances you will note that the vendor is unable to provide the name of the company where the sale / installation occurred, and only provides the numbers of machines that they have been sold / installed. Obviously we would far sooner name names, but respect the customer’s right to privacy.

    You will note that the following list only relates to SME businesses (or assumed SME businesses). The larger businesses were reported in part 1 of this series – click here to view.

    Assta Label House NSW I ABG Digicon label cutter
    Catalyst Graphics NSW I Agfa Jeti 1224
    Core Print VIC I Agfa Avalon N4 CtP
    Discus Digital Print WA I Agfa Jeti 1224 UV digital Flat bed
    Flow Printing VIC I Agfa Avalon N-8 12S CtP
    Flow Printing VIC I Agfa Avalon N-8 12S CtP
    Oxford Printing NSW I Agfa Jeti 1224
    Tennyson Printing QLD I Agfa VCF 85 processor (chem free)
    VRC QLD I Agfa Avalon CtP
    PDQ Labels NSW I Apex 1290 Digital Press
    Platypus Graphics QLD I Autobond 76 Celloglazer with slitter and auto delivery
    ABC Photosigns Vic / NZ S Canon 2 x Image Press C701VP
    KK Chatswood NSW I Canon C7000VP
    3 x Kwik Kopy stores (as advised by Canon) NSW / VIC I Canon 3 x Image Press CV 7000 VP
    AuzPrint QLD I Canon C6000
    PictureWorks VIC I Canon DreamLabo 5000 AKL I Canon C7000 VP
    WA Printer WA S Cron Platesetter
    Picton WA S Currie and Co Small folder, creaser and guillotine
    Numerous customers (as advised by vendor) Aust / NZ S Duplo 4 x digital booklet makers
    A Better Way to Print QLD I Duplo DC 645 Card Cutter
    Unknown (as reported by EFI) Aust S EFI Vutek QS 2000
    Scribal Group NSW S EFI Rastek H652
    Hannanprint NSW S Ferag UniDrum 440 Gatherer, stitcher, trimmer
    News Ltd WA / QLD S Ferag 2 x SNT 350 Three Knife Trimming drums
    Sony NSW I Fujifilm Acuity HS 3545 flat bed UV digital printer
    Orangebox AKL I GBR GBR 420T Smart feeder, folder
    Magnify Media VIC I GMC Wide format workflow / colour system
    Hosking Envelopes Aust S Halmes 4 x re-manufactured envelope printers
    Bambra Vic I Heidelberg XL 75-12 colour offset
    AMR Hewitt VIC S Heidelberg Dymatrix 113 diecutter
    CJ King WA S Heidelberg SM 74-8 -P
    JP Printing VIC S Heidelberg SX 52 and SM 52-5
    Snap Perth Hub WA I Heidelberg SM 52-4 Anicolor
    Various (as advised by Heidelberg) Aust NZ S Heidelberg 4 x A1 presses (36 print units in Apr to Dec 11)
    Various (as advised by Heidelberg) Aust NZ S Heidelberg 4 x A2 presses (23 print units in Apr to Dec 11)
    Various (as advised by Heidelberg) Aust NZ S Heidelberg 4 x A3 presses (20 print units in Apr to Dec 11)
    Various (as advised by Heidelberg) Aust NZ S Heidelberg /Kodak CtP – 13 devices (9 HD, 4 Kodak in Apr to Dec 11)
    Eastern Press VIC S Heidelberg XL 75 – 5 +L
    McHargs CHC I Horizon BQ470 PUR+EVA perfect binder
    McHargs Horizon SPF 200A
    Broderick Printing and Design AKL NZ I Horizon Stitchliner
    Crystal Print WA S Horizon Stitching line
    Dieline AKL NZ I Horizon AFC 566 folder, BQ 270 binder, SPF 200A collate, stitch, trim
    Maroondah Printing VIC I Horizon Collate, stitch and trim
    Various (as advised by Curries) S Horizon 3 x AFC 566 FC cross folders
    Various(as advised by Curries) S Horizon 2 x Stitchmasters
    Who Printing NSW I Horizon BQ 470
    Assta Label House NSW I HP Indigo WS4500
    Image Source WA I HP DJ L65500 Latex wide format
    RMIT VIC I HP Designjet Z6200
    Sabre Signs Cch I HP Scitex FB 700 / Designjet L25500
    Bokay Group WA S HP Scitex FB7600 Digital Press
    Briner Total Signage Solutions VIC I HP Scitex LX 800 printer
    Colemans Printing NT I HP 2 x Indigo 5500
    Digi we doo SA S HP Indigo 7500
    Digimen Townsville QLD I HP Scitex FB500 UV Flatbed Printer
    Discus WA I HP Indigo 5000
    Lotsa QLD I HP 26500 Wide Format (Latex)
    Magnify Media WA S HP Scitex FB 7600
    Momento Pro NSW I HP Indigo 7500
    Pilpel Print WA I HP Indigo
    PMG NSW S HP Indigo 7500
    PMI Corp VIC I HP Indigo 7500
    Pressprint AKL NZ I HP Indigo 3550
    Spice Digital Imaging WA I HP Super wide Designjet L28500
    Various (as advised by HP) Aust / NZ S HP 4 Plus 1000 presses
    SEMA NSW /VIC I/S Impika iPrint eVolution press x 2
    GSP NSW I Inca Onset S20 digital flatbed printer
    Retail Communications Vic I Inca Onset S20 high end flat bed
    Aust Customer Aust S KBA 105 – 5 plus coater
    Print Counsel AKL I KBA Genius 52 UV
    Kirk ?? S Kodak Flexcel NX wide flexo
    Kirk Vic I Kodak Flexcel NX wide system
    BDR Max AKL I Konica Minolta Bizhub C7000
    Numberous customers Vic S Konica Minolta Digital Machines
    Pure Colours NSW I Konica Minolta Biz Hub 8000
    Unitec NZ I Konica Minolta and Oce Suppliers of a new range of digital printers
    LabelForce WA I Mark Andy P5 – 8 colour Flexo press
    Marvel Bookbinding VIC I MBO T 800 Perfection folder
    M&N Graphics NSW I MBO T535.4.4.F folder
    Dragon Printing ?? S Memjet Speedstar label printer
    MailEzy QLD I Memjet Envelope printer
    Print Rite NSW S Memjet Speedstar label printer
    Christchurch Digital Print Co-operative CH I Mogana DocuMaster Pro Booklet maker
    ABC Photosigns AKL I Morgana Digifold Pro
    Kwik Kopy Norwood SA I Morgana Documaster and DigiFold Pro
    Lotsa QLD I Morgana DigiFold
    Griffin Press SA I Muller Martini SigmaLine
    Brisbane City Council QLD I Oce Colourwave 600 Wide Format
    Briter VIC I Oce Arizona 360GT Flatbed
    Slimbox NSW I Oce Arizona 360XT Wide Format
    On Demand VIC I Oce Colourstream 3500
    Pageset VIC I Oce Arizona 550 GT and Pro Cut
    St. Lawrence College QLD S Oce Manage print facility
    Trannys NSW I Oce Arizona 550 GT UV
    Various, as advised by Heidelberg Aust / NZ S Polar 30 x Polar orders             (April – Sept 11)
    Excel Digital NZ S Polar 80SE
    Various Aust NZ S Polar 38 machines (Apr – Dec 11)
    Publications Perspective VIC I Presstek 34 DI press (Used)
    Redworks Ogilvy NZ I Ricoh 2 x Pro 651 EX
    Armadale Council WA I Ricoh Pro C900 + finishing
    Kwik Kopy WA I Ricoh C901 and 1357EX
    Snap Northwest NSW I Ricoh Pro C901
    Eye Tonic NSW I Roland VersaUV LEJ-640
    Frontline Printing Syd I Roland DG LEJ 640, UV flatbed
    Imprimerie STP Multipress Tahiti I Roland 700 Hi Print
    Unknown (as reported by Roland DG) Aust S Roland DG 8 x Versa wide format
    Unknown (as reported by Roland DG) Aust S Roland DG LEJ 640 Hybrid UV inkjet
    Kalamazoo AKL I Ryobi 920-10 colour offset
    Kalamazoo CHC NZ I Ryobi 955D and 925D Offset presses
    PMS VIC I Ryobi Ryobi 925
    Catus Imaging NSW I Scitex XP 5300
    Omnigraphics Akl I Scitex XP 2300
    Graphic Glass WA I Screen Trupress Jet 2500UV
    Mega Colour NSW S Screen PlateRite 8900 CtP
    Metro Press  WA I Screen Platewrite 4300E CtP
    Queensland customer (as reported by Screen) QLD S Screen Truepress Jet 520
    Various (as reported by Heidelberg) Aust NZ S Stahl 7 machines sold                (Apr – Dec 11)
    CMYK Hub QLD S Stahl Ti 52 Folder
    Benefitz AKL I Tekcel Wide format router
    Photobook Shop VIC I UniBind Casemaker 750A
    GSP NSW I Uvistar 5032 4 colour grand format UV
    Press Print Solutions Vic I Watkiss DFS booklet machine
    Immij VIC I Xerox 800/1000 press
    Xtreem VIC I Xerox I Gen 4 EXP
    2 x Customers (as reported by Xerox) Aust S Xerox 2 x Nuvera 200 EA Perfectors
    Kalamazoo WEL S Xerox 2 x 2800 Inkjet Colour continuous feed printers
    Print Storm NSW I Xerox 1000 Press
    SEMA NSW S Xerox iPrint 75 x 2
    Snap Mackay QLD I Xerox 800 Press
    Various (as reported by Xerox) Aust S Xerox 60 x 800/1000 Digital image presses sold in region in past 12 months
    Worldwide – Market Street QLD I Xerox 800

    The above list was developed after the collation of data from Ascent Partners monthly Market Watch Bulletin. This bulletin is available on the free subscription basis from their web site,

    Next week we will issue Market Watch for the first two months of this financial year. We’re sure you won’t be surprised by the continued consolidation and investment in the industry.

  • Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review Pt. 4

    Part 4 – Reported SME Mergers and Acquisitions   

    Ascent Partners director, Richard Rasmussen, outlines some of most prominent mergers and acquisitions that occurred during the 2012 financial year for the small to medium end of the market.

    Much has been said about the poor state of the printing industry, but there is a positive side as well. In FY 2012 there were plenty of mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations, which shows that there is a degree of confidence in the industry – buyers don’t buy unless they see a return on investment or a more positive outlook than pre-acquisition.

    And, it makes senses that this consolidation continues from both the vendors’ and acquirers’ perspectives. For example, we all know that one of the key profitability indicators of print businesses is the asset utilisation rate. Consolidation allows for a dramatic increase in utilisation rates, and with that the opportunity to improve profits.

    We recorded 23 in this small to medium enterprise (SME) sector, about one a fortnight, however we know there far more. For example Ascent Partners made eight sales during the year, and due to privacy requests only five are provided in this listing.

    You will note that the following list only relates to SME businesses (or assumed SME businesses). The larger businesses were reported in part 1 of this series – click here to view.

    The below list was developed after the collation of data from Ascent Partners monthly Market Watch Bulletin. This bulletin is available on the free subscription basis from their web site,

    Next week, in the final part of our overview of FY 12, we will provide a list of the major Sales and installations of equipment in the industry.

    AUST / NZ
    APN Outdoor and Quadrant Private Equity Joint Venture
    Billabong Capital Partners buys Moore Australasia’s shell Purchase
    PMA Solutions / Trio Group Merger
    Kalamazoo buys K&M Print and Taieri Print Acquisitions
    Blue Print Imaging buys HGV Acquisition
    Big Print buys Typographical Services Acquisition
    AFI Branding Solutions buys SLS Group Acquisition
    Minuteman Lonsdale Street buys Colourprint Acquisition
    Brougham Press buys Echo Press Acquisition
    J&J Printing buys Manark Printing Acquisition
    Minuteman Press Abbotsford buys BR Printing Acquisition
    Biz Works buys Miss Print Acquisition
    WorldWide’s South Caulfield and Mt Waverley stores Merger
    Cyan Press buys Contemporary Press Acquisition

    Kwik Kopy buys liquidated Cityprint Acquisition
    Ausmage Media buys Locographics Acquisition
    Local trade binder buys Quantum Printing Acquisition
    Local group buy Speciality Press Acquisition
    The Bright Print Group buy Newcastle Camera Print (NCP) Acquisition
    Print Approach buys ABC Printing’s client list Acquisition
    North East Print buys  Copy and Adelaide Image Printing Acquisition
    Worldwide Adelaide Internal buy out
    Lamb Printing and Vangaurd Press Amalgamation
  • Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review Pt. 3

    Part 3 – Reported SME Receiverships, administrations and liquidations.  

    Ascent Partners director, Richard Rasmussen, outlines the many reported receiverships, administrations and liquidations during the 2012 financial year in the SME (Small Medium Enterprises) sector.

    While I don’t see this collection of industry receiverships, administrations and liquidations as a definitive list, this is simply what I have been able to pick up from the trade press and from my networks and reported in Market Watch. It should also be noted, that these were ‘as reported’, and that the end result may have been a trade sales or amalgamation. However, it is fair to say the vast majority ended as closures.

    It can also be assumed that the number is far greater than this. The methodology in the collection of the data largely relies on what was reported. It does however show many businesses in our industry were unable to continue to trade.  I’m sure they each have their own story to tell.

    I hope that more in the industry choose to report this type of information through to media outlets such Print21, where they will always be kept confidential, and independently verified.

    Note that large enterprise receiverships, administrations and liquidations were reported two weeks, ago, in part one of this series.

    Legend for table:

    VA-Voluntary Administration; A-Administration; R-Receivership; L-Liquidation; WU-Wound Up; NWP-Notice to wind up; CM-Creditor’s meeting.

    City Print Ptd Ltd VA
    Good Impressions Offset Printers A
    Printer’s Korner CM
    AP Digital CM
    Form Print L
    GoodCrowd Integrated Print Communications L
    Norman McGriggor Printing L
    Australian Managed Print Services VA
    Print Associates VA
    Printpack Pty Ltd VA
    The Print House Port McQuarie VA
    Impress Colour VA
    Octopus Solutions VA
    Worldwide Online Printing Blackburn CM
    Heatprint Aust CM
    Elephant Print Media L
    Fortiori Publishing L
    Embassy Press L
    Minit Print L
    Moorabbin Printing L
    Print Specifix L
    PrintWorld Victoria Pty Ltd L
    Market Printing VA
    Embassy Press A
    Connect print and publishing CM
    Unlimited Images L
    ABC Printing L
    JT Press L
    Steve Parish Publishing L
    Peninsula Colour Graphics NWU
    Supreme Printing R

    This list was developed after the collation of data from Ascent Partners monthly Market Watch Bulletin. This bulletin is available on the free subscription basis from the web site:

    Next week, in part 4 of this series, we will report on the FY 2012 Sales and Acquisitions in the SME sector.

  • Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review Pt. 2

    Part 2 – The Suppliers.

    In the second of a five part series Ascent Partners director, Richard Rasmussen, outlines the major market activity pertaining to consolidations, takeovers, sales, acquisitions and closures that were reported within the supplier sector of the industry in FY 2012.

    Global Suppliers

    Who would have thought at the start of the year manroland, Shinohara and Solna would change hands? Or that Kodak would file for Chapter 11? There was plenty of activity amongst some of major suppliers.

    1. Manroland – In November they filed for insolvency. Langley Holdings subsequently purchased the sheet-fed division and the web division was purchased by Prossehl
    2. Kodak files for Chapter 11 (Jan).
    3. Heidelberg – purchased CSAT
    4. Goss France merged two sites
    5. Hans-Gronhi purchased Shinohara
    6. PaperlinX – In January they received an offer to purchase shares, in February there was a leadership challenge and then in July the challenger, Andrew Price, was appointed to the board.
    7. EFI acquire Alphagraph, Prism and Create Print
    8. Platinum Equity acquire Quark and Quark later acquire Mobile IQ
    9. Wifag buys Solna
    10. Xeikon acquires RSD Technik and Flexolaser
    11. HP Buys Hiflex
    12. Domino takes over Graph-Tech
    13. Forsyth Capital buys Baldwin
    14. Adobe purchases Efficient Frontier
    15. Dahaher buys X-Rite
    16. 3M buys Avery consumer products division
    17. Autobox buys Andrew and Suter
    18. Hahnemuhle’s purchases Zanders
    19. Glide Private Equity purchases Spandex

    Suppliers – Local

    1. DIC buys Pacific Inks of NZ
    2. Jet Technologies (NZ) opens branch in Auckland
    3. Blue Print Imaging buy HGV / NZ
    4. Fluid Technologies (NSW) ceases trading
    5. Supply One ceases trading
    6. CSG (NT) rejects takeover offer
    7. Bermuda (QLD) open new distribution centre
    8. Australian Graphic Supplies opens new NSW site
    9. Starleaton (NSW) relocates

    Ascent Partners publishes Market Watch monthly via email bulletin. You can subscribe to this free bulletin on our web site,, or download quarterly PDF bulletins.

    Next week in part 3 of “Market Watch FY 2012 A Year in Review”, we provide an overview of the Small to Medium size business that closed.

  • Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review Pt. 1

    In the first of a five part series Ascent Partners director, Richard Rasmussen, lists the industry’s major market activity around consolidations, takeovers, sales, acquisitions, closures, and major equipment sales and installations that took place in financial year 2012.

    Part 1 – The Big End of Town

    It certainly was an eventful year with all of the major print groups in the news. Some courted suitors (PMP, Salmat BPO); there was some major plant consolidation within Geon, PMP and Colorpak; the Sands Print Group (VIC) and Australian Envelopes (VIC) folded, and IPMG announced it would close Craft Printing.

    The web printers were busy purchasing 80-96 page Lithomans (Franklin, IPMG, PMP); IPMG planned to relocate to Warwick Farm, Opus merged with McPhersons, and SEMA entered administration (later announced that there was a management buyout).

    The year ended with the major Fairfax announcement that it would close its Chullora (NSW) and Tullamarine (VIC) newspaper printing plants.

    FY 2013 shows no signs of this activity abating, especially with the imminent sale of Blue Star, and Australia Post’s entry into the BPO market place with the purchase of two Océ ColorStream 3700 inkjet presses.

    Below is a list, by group, of the major news announcements:

     Blue Star

    • July 11 – call for bondholder’s concessions
    • Aug 11 – Bondholder’s vote to stave off receivership
    • Blue Star’s PE funder, Champ, purchases Ooh! Media
    • July 12 (FY 2013) – The business is up for a quick sale


    • Move to single site operation in Sydney
    • Tempe (NSW) warehouse to relocate to Parramatta (NSW) and Eagle Farm (QLD)
    • Move Brunswick site (VIC) to Mt Waverley (VIC) and Banksmeadow (NSW)
    • Close Docklands (VIC)


    • Close the Scribo book distribution business
    • PMP to move Clayton (VIC) bindery to NSW
    • Purchase a Lithoman 96 page web for Perth
    • Receive a $250 million offer from TMA
    • Reject TMA from further due diligence because of lack of proof of financial wherewithal


    • Announce relocation from Alexandria (NSW) to Warwick Farm (NSW)
    • Announce closure of Craft (NSW)
    • Purchase Lithoman 96 page web (twin 48 pp) for Warwick Farm (NSW)
    • July 12 (FY 13) – announce Ferag purchase


    • Installed Lithoman 80 page web


    • Consolidate Villawood (NSW) into Regent Park (NSW) facility
    • Close CCH Reservior (VIC) plant – relocate to Braeside (VIC) and Mt. Waverley (VIC).


    • Purchase Aperio Group


    • Joint venture called off between Fairfax and News (local printing of newspapers)
    • Announcement that it would close Chullora (NSW) and Tullamarine (VIC) newspaper plants / move to tabloid size

    Opus / McPhersons

    • McPhersons to purchase HP T400 high speed colour inkjet web press
    • Opus to merge with McPhersons
    • July 12 (FY 13) – announced that McPhersons Printing (VIC) may relocate to Vega’s  (VIC) premises


    • Enter voluntary administration
    • Management buy out

    Australian Envelopes (VIC)

    • Liquidation

    Sands Group (VIC)

    • Liquidation
    • Part of group purchased by TIC Group
    • BPA (VIC) purchases client list and brand


    • Takes in iPrint (purchases the other 50% share)

    Aust Post / Salmat

    • Aust Post identified as likely suitor of Salmat BPO division
    • July 12 (FY 13) – Aust Post buys 2 x Oce Colour Stream 3700 Inkjet Presses

    Ascent Partners publishes Market Watch monthly via email bulletin. You can subscribe to this free bulletin on our web site,, or download quarterly PDF bulletins.

    Next week, in part 2 of “Market Watch FY 2012 – A Year in Review”, we provide an overview of the suppliers to the industry – the sale and acquisitions, the consolidations and the closures.

  • Rasmussen’s eighth top tip – Consider different business models

    Richard Rasmussen looks at why print businesses should to consider different business models during their transition periods.

    So, you’ve been running your print business for 20 years, you’re now between 55 and 65 years old and you’re thinking you want to get out in two to five years. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

    What should you be doing in that transition period? One of the things you should consider, if you want to optimise your business value is to change your business model.

    Here are some questions you may wish to contemplate:

    • Will my business as it is now, continuing to trade as it is, be worth more or less in two to five years’ time?

    Now I know this question does need a bit of crystal balling, but it’s worth the exercise. The answer will normally be a function of your views on:

    1. Your future profitability
    2. Your future sales
    3. Your future equipment value
    4. Your people – who stays and who goes?
    5. Your customers – more or less? Higher dollar value or less?
    6. Your will to keep motivated
    7. Your business model and whether it is in decline or on the rise.

    As I’ve covered the first five of these points in previous tips, this article will focus on the last two.

    Will the market change in the next few years to make your business more or less attractive? The answer to this question needs you to realistically look at what the trends are in your particular niche of the industry. What market forces will impact your niche? Will it be digital, big printers, print management firms or other media such as the web?

    A good way to think of this is cast your mind back to the early nineties when there were typesetting businesses. Remember them? Or back when there were forms printers; will your niche suffer the same fate?

    The answers to these questions need some serious thought because what I see, in the vast majority of instances, is that printers would be better off changing the way they do business in their transition years (the years before exit). Unfortunately many are on the slippery slope, hoping in vain that things will improve, that all of a sudden their traditional business model will become back in vogue. A touch of realism and objectivity is urgently required.

    Let me provide an example – commercial printers with, say, between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, probably doing colour work at the lower, and a two-colour A3 press, at the top a five or six colour A2 press or two. What will happen to this style of printer in the next three to five years? Will there be more or less work provided to them? If your answer is ’10 per cent less work.’ what do you think they, as a group, need to do differently to hold to, or improve sales and margins? Can they do that by staying ‘as is’?

    Also, in their transition years many proprietors in all sectors lack the drive to make things happen;   they simply run out steam and ideas. And with that the business stagnates, sales fall and value drops.  If you’ve lost your mojo now, what chance is there of getting it back by staying ‘as is.’?

    The amount of printers out there that have run out of puff is staggering. And it’s not surprising. Printing is a hard, competitive game. If you’ve been doing it 30 to 40 years it takes its toll. Obviously, here we also need to consider the any health issues.  Pushing yourself or doing the ‘macho’ male thing to the detriment of your health is not a good option. So consider options that can accommodate health issues.

    So, it’s really important to consider what is likely to happen to you and your business in this transition period.

    I think that most printers need to consider running their business differently in the transition period.

    The start point should be to review your present operation:

    • What is it worth now?
    • Is the business sustainable, capable of growing and providing an adequate return?
    • What will it be worth if you leave it as is in three years?
    • What will you owe on the business in three years?
    • What will you be able to draw from the business over those three years?

    Now, think of what you could change in the way you do business and run some ‘what-if’ scenarios.  Be realistic with the options you develop – for example most proprietors will not be willing to take a punt on reinvesting in new or different equipment in their twilight and transition years.

    In most instances, there should be a focus on getting the most out of their existing customers. Look back at what the trends have been with your customers in the past three years, as that will probably give you an insight as to what may happen in the next three years. Look at their purchase levels, purchase frequency and what style of customers you have lost and won. Is order values increasing or decreasing?  Will that trend continue? If so, does your business model set up to handle that trend?

    Also look for strategies that reduce liabilities, improve efficiencies and make the business look more attractive.

    Here are some options to help you build different business models:

    • Doing deals other printers, where they take their clients across to you and sell off their machinery. Maybe sharing of facilities, working with them on ‘earn outs’ based on client retention.
      • As above but vice versa.
      • Working with other manufactures and service providers to obtain more share of your existing customers – i.e. working with larger printers, printers with green credentials, printers that offer other services.
      • Working on strategies to build moats around customers, and make them as easy as possible to transfer customers to another entity.
        • Outsourcing more work, disposing of older technology equipment. Not replacing staff when they retire. Using contractors.
        • Building profits – above and below the GP line.
        • Easing back, let others do the heavy lifting.
        • Downsizing to enable you to have higher utilisation rates on your equipment
        • Not renewing property lease – work out of another printer’s premise.
        • Resource sharing – i.e. equipment, people, IP, logistics, premises, deliveries, purchasing etc.

    A combination of some of the above may also provide the best alternative. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, so certainly consider other options.

    In the 30-plus print related business sales we have been involved in there have been some great examples of how changing a business model can work very well for a vendor. Many achieved a far better outcome than continuing to trade, head in the sand, ‘as is’ and then selling when the business is looking ugly.

    Sometimes it takes someone from outside your business to work you through these scenarios and get a degree of objectivity to your thought processes.

    But as with tip number one – start early, engage people who can add value and objectivity to your thought process.

    Ascent Partners is dedicated to providing professional advice to the industry in business appraisals, transition plans, and acting as sales agents to sell print related businesses – see or phone Richard Rasmussen on 0402 021 101.

  • Rasmussen’s seventh top tip – Choose advisors carefully

    Selling a business is not something that is done every day. The vast majority of printing business proprietors has never sold a business before. So it’s important to choose advisors carefully, especially in today’s tough environment. Ascent Partners’ principal, Richard Rasmussen, looks at how to do it right.

    The choice of which advisors you include in your transition / business sales team is obviously a vital component in a smooth and successful business sale. In all likelihood you’ll only have one shot at it, so you need to choose wisely.

    As with all professional services (including printing), the cheapest option is not always the best – you need to choose “horses for courses” advisors. The upfront cost is largely irrelevant, it’s the final “in the pocket” and personal outcomes that should be the primary prerequisites.

    Below is a list of advisors you may wish to consider:

    Accountants – The first person you should consider to be on the team is your accountant. However, care needs to be taken to choose which areas they are included in. Taxation planning is usually a “no brainer”, as is the preparation of financial documents to be included in the sales process, and assistance with responses to financial due diligence questions.

    Business appraisals and valuations are probably not their forte, especially if they work for a variety of clients and have no specialist knowledge of the printing industry. I can’t tell you the number of times my clients have been given completely over the top valuation and appraisals of their business. As an example one gave an appraised value of $3,000,000, I appraised it at $1,200,000. It sold for a lot closer to my number. The reason they can be so out largely lies with them having no knowledge of the market value of plant and equipment, and having no prior sale knowledge as to what multiple to apply (a multiple is the number often applied to the profit of a business to establish a selling price).

    Financial Advisors – They can assist in the preparation of your personal financial objectives, and implementation advice before and after the sale. It’s not all about the business sale; it’s also about your own financial situation and what money you need to move onto the next stage of your life.

    Business Consultants – They can help in the planning and strategy in the transition phase. Business consultants with industry knowledge will obviously have a head start on others, as they know the different business models, business requirements and what buyers are looking for. For example if exit planning is done well in advance they should be able to advise you on what you need to do in the lead up to sale. This may include changing business models, retiring obsolete equipment, not hiring replacement staff, and more emphasis on retaining customers. It’s obviously hard to provide that advice if they don’t have industry knowledge.

    Lawyers – Need to be appointed to prepare sales contracts and letters of agreement. They also offer advice in the process to ensure your best interests are protected and served.

    Business Appraisers / Valuers – As discussed throughout previous Six Tips, we believe the first step in the transition process is to have your business professionally appraised. This provides the starting point from which to plan your transition. The appraisal needs to be from a professional with industry experience. An incorrect appraisal (either higher or lower) can obviously impact heavily on the final business sale final price you achieve. It’s important to get it right.

    Equipment Valuers –As the plant and equipment value and the goodwill value make the sum total of the business value, it is important to establish a realistic market value for the plant and equipment prior to marketing the business. This can be done by independent equipment valuers as an aid to building up a justification of asking price for the business. Industry specific brokers and equipment dealers can also offer indicative values, but it is usually the equipment valuers that carry the most weight with the banks.

    Friends, family, colleagues and peers – Obviously you may have friends, family, colleagues and peers that you can assist and provide advice in the transition phase. It’s very important however, when seeking their advice, that you consider their credentials and their ability to realistically add value to the process. However well intentioned and well meaning they are, you should be seeking advice from those with industry and relevant business sales experience.

    Business Sales Agents:

    There are a few common options:

    a.     Self Sell  – You may choose to sell the business yourself, which has the advantage of eliminating business sales fees, but has the disadvantage of reducing the ability to keep the sale private. Other factors to consider are how well equipped you are to sell the business, prepare sales documents (which you provide the prospects), get confidentiality agreements prepared, keep the emotion out of selling the business and whether you have the time to deal with the sales prospect’s enquiries. A poorly prepared sales document and an over the top asking price is likely to turn off vendors who more often than not would prefer to deal with a third party.

    b.     Business sales agents can be a good option as they have experience in business sales. Biased as we may be, we think the best agents are ones that have printing industry business sales experience, have the runs on the board, have good networks and prospects on the books, and have access to relevant advertising media.

    c.     Large accountancy firms – offer the same as business sales agent, perhaps with extended services such as tax advice, accountancy, and business advice. Mostly they will want the larger the businesses.

    There are of course other advisors that may be included in your business transition and business sale team. Some may include staff members. You need to realistically consider where you need help and assistance, understanding that any advisor bought into the team should be able to show you and justify to you where they can add value to the process. It’s best to ask around and ask for references from your advisors.

    Your aim should be to maximise business value and to meet your personal objectives during and post the transition phase. The choice of the right “horses for courses” team is therefore a vital component to achieving these goals.

    At Ascent Partners, as an Australian printing industry specialist, we offer the following transition and business sales services:

    • Business appraisals
    • Business planning and transition advice
    • Act as your business sales agent (around 30 print related business sold).

    Richard Rasmussen can be contacted at Ascent Partners (1300 887 648 or mobile 0402 021 101). For further information or visit

  • Richard Rasmussen Market Watch – June 12.

    The 2012 financial year has concluded with most sectors in the large end of town consolidating or fielding offers from frequently unnamed suitors.  Let’s hope they are not like the entity behind the recent bizarre offer on retailer DJ’s who received a $1.65 billion bid from EB Private Equity on Friday.  DJ’s shares subsequently jumped 20 per cent and just as quickly dropped 20 per cent when the offer was withdrawn.  Maybe it was an end of financial year thing.

    Anyway, back to the world of print.

    Perhaps the biggest news of the year came last month with the announcement by Fairfax it will be closing down its Chullora and Tullamarine plants, moving to tabloid format, and with it shedding 1,900 jobs.  It’s not so much the news, but the reason behind Fairfax’s announcement – the shift from print to digital. Some pundits are now predicting the demise of the major newspapers within five years.

    Other major movements in the big end of town in June include:

    • SEMA, Australia’s third largest transactional printer, appeared headed toward a management buy-out.
    • The lack of news on TMA’s bid on Australia’s largest printer, PMP (six weeks has elapsed since they were identified)
    • Amcor completed its acquisition of Aperio Group.
    • Aust Post identified as the likely suitor of Salmat’s BPO division
    • Colorpak announcing it would consolidate its Villawood plant into its Regent Park facility.

    And at the start of July we had the unfolding news that Blue Star was fielding offers from a few unnamed sources.

    It wasn’t just the big end of town in the news. We also saw:

    • The end of the Sands Group, with their plant and equipment auction
    • NSW print broker, Octopus Solution being would up, leaving with it a 1.6 million debt. The liquidator said the creditors would end up with nothing as the company had no assets. Readers may well question how a print broker can have a debt of that size.
    • Kalamazoo NZ’s recent acquisition of K&M Print and Taieri Print
    • Two unidentified sales of commercial printers by Ascent Partners in Melbourne
    • North East Print and Copy acquiring Adelaide Image Printing
    • In Melbourne, Worldwide Blackburn – creditor’s meeting for voluntary creditor’s liquidation
    • In Queensland, ABC Printing’s client list sold to Print Approach.

    The suppliers were also busy with Domino acquiring Graph Tech and Quark buying Mobile IQ.

    Major Machinery

    With Drupa winding up in May, one would have hoped that there would be more news on the machinery sales side. News was however limited to:

    • Hannanprint purchasing a Ferag UniDrum 440 gatherer, stitcher trimmer
    • PDQ labels (NSW) installing an Apex 1290 Digital Press
    • Core Print (VIC) installing an Agfa Avalon N4 CtP unit
    • JP Printing (VIC) purchasing a Heidelberg SX and SM 52 press
    • K&B announcing they sold a 105-5 press to an unnamed Australian printer
    • Xerox installing the 100th regional 800 /1000 press to Immij (VIC)

    Further news on these major movement and machinery sales / installation stories can be downloaded from Ascent Partners web site,

    Here you can also find details of the current businesses we have for sale, including a highly profitable well-priced Southern Seaboard A1 printer.

  • Richard Rasmussen Market Watch June 2012

    There was much movement at the station this week with SEMA’s creditors giving the green light for a management buyout of the embattled essential mail provider. Industry consultant, John Stewart, who has been named as the company’s new managing director, led the buyout.

    Meanwhile, Fairfax Media was no favourite of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) after failing to consult with staff before announcing it will close down its two largest newspaper-printing facilities at Chullora and Tullamarine as part of its restructuring efforts.

    The media giant will be sacking up to 1,900 people from its operations over the next three years as it changes the format of its two leading broadsheets, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age, and transforms the operational structure of its entire news network to become a digital first organisation.

    Further afield, PaperlinX has decided to sell off three of its largest international paper businesses to help give the struggling company the liquidity it requires to complete its ongoing restructure. It has agreed to sell its US businesses, Spicers USA, and Kelly Paper for $76 million to New York-based Central National-Gottesman Inc.

    Some good news, a multi-million dollar contract win in New Zealand for OPUS Group’s Omnigraphics NZ will allow an expansion for the company in the large-format sector in the NZ marketplace.

    Southern Seaboard Commercial Printer for Sale

    This longstanding A1 Commercial printer ticks all the boxes – turns over circa $10,000,000, is highly profitable, has modern plant and equipment, a good mix of mainly clients, and has excellent staff. It can be run under management. The price will be provided on Application to qualified prospects.

    This business is a complete service provider, and is well known in its market niche. Would suit a wide array of purchasers –an interstate printer wanting to have a southern seaboard base, A2 printer wanting to grow to A1, or perhaps A1 printer wanting an equipment upgrade and more turnover. It’s priced to sell and provide a quick ROI. Interest can be registered at

    The above provides a summary of the market activity reported during June. You can find more details on these stories from our Market Watch web page, at Here you can download this and previous editions, and also subscribe to our free monthly Market Watch bulletin.

  • Rasmussen’s sixth top tip – Build and protect your customer base

    Retaining and growing a customer base are the most frequently quoted hardships in running a printing business in today’s tough environment, according to Ascent Partners principal, Richard Rasmussen.

    Question – From a business buyer’s perspective, what’s the most sought after part of the business they are looking to acquire? Answer – Customers and the growth potential of those customers.

    So in the lead-up to selling a business, ideally, what you want provide is a client list that can be easily transferred and is capable of growth.

    If you think about it, the prospective purchaser of your business is likely to have a lot of the required equipment – that’s half the problem, they have underutilised equipment, what they want is more sales to fill that equipment.

    Client lists are worth good money, even if the firm is not making a profit. This is because in these instances purchasers will look more to the Gross Profit, rather than the Net Profit when purchasing a client list.

    Even if the firm is in administration, the client list has value. Unfortunately many administrators don’t seem to get this concept. They don’t see the point in valuing it (how can a client list of a business that is in administration have any value?), know how to value it, nor what data the prospective purchasers need to buy it, or how to market it. It’s all about speed – of collecting the data, valuing the client list and approaching the right purchasers.  As each day goes by, the value diminishes – the salespeople and customers flee (or that is the perception of the purchaser).

    What sort of clients?

    Obviously this depends on individual circumstances, but normally your clients want to be perceived by the buyers as easily transferrable to their business. In most cases these are direct clients, not ones where they are obtained through an intermediary such as a print management firm or a print broker. The reason for this is that commonly buyers perceive there is more risk that intermediary clients will be lost.

    What spread of clients?

    It is important, in order to maximise the value for your business that you have a good mix of clients, where no one client dominates. All the eggs in one basket = big risk. In general terms, the more risk buyers see in the possibility of losing clients, the less they will pay.

    Who services the clients?

    It is best you think now (well before the sale) of how you can ensure that clients are easily transferred to another entity. Would they want you servicing the clients or a sales representative or customer service representative?

    In general terms, if you service the clients, then they would want to tie you in to continuing to service these clients after the sale has gone through. And, if the clients are serviced by an internal or external sales person, then they would want them to transfer to the new entity.

    Again, it’s all about their perception of the risk of loss of clients. You clearly need to think about this well in advance, as it will affect your selling price, the way you exit, and perhaps how you are paid out (full amount up front or on an earn out formulae)

    Build moats around your clients

    Your top 10 clients are the most important. Have a look now at who they are. How long have they been dealing with you? What proportion of your business do they represent? Who services them? How can you build a moat around them to lock them in (as far as possible) into dealing with you?

    You need to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what is the chance of you losing a major client in the lead up to a business sale (perhaps 1-3 years out). And if you lost that client, what would be the effect to your bottom line? Who would you replace them with? Do you have a plan?

    Unfortunately I’ve seen business values slashed as a result of a single lost client. This is precisely why purchasers are very wary of businesses where one or two clients dominate.

    So how can you build moats around customers? Here are some examples:

    • Offer Print management – such as on line ordering, viewing of previous jobs on the screen, monitoring stock, warehousing. These services make it harder for clients to change printers.
    • Holding artwork, standing plates, cutting formes etc.
    • Excellent customer service – they love what you do for them. They find it very easy to deal with you. You respond to quotes quickly, you follow up quotes, you measure your performance. You make it as hard as possible for them to change.
    • Lock them into contracts – I know, contracts are hard to get, but you may be surprised at how many customers are contracted. Note, if you are able to achieve this you need to ensure that the contract is transferrable to the purchaser of your business.
    • Offer unique selling propositions / value added services.
    • Aim to retain the sales people, who have the relationship with the customer.
    • Have relationships with your customer’s management (as far up the tree as possible).
    • Consider selling more than print to them. i.e. if you have the relationship, look at what else they procure. The aim here is to make your firm the “go to” firm, who has the answers.

    Niche markets

    If you have a special niche, where you are known as the best or only one of a few suppliers, then that is obviously of value (less risk of loss, maybe an entry into that market for the acquiring printer). Of course that is on the proviso that the acquiring firm wants that niche, that the niche is attractive (i.e. is in growth), and that you can transfer your expertise.

    Barriers to entry into your particular niche market will also build value. i.e. for a catalogue printer, the cost and IP required to enter the web market is generally seen as prohibitive.

    Getting a high share of customer spend

    “Share of customer” is what proportion of their expenditure you obtain. So if you define “media spend” as your measure, how much of their media spend do you currently get? For example, if you’re a stationery printer, maybe you’re only getting a small part of their expenditure, and are not a really highly valued supplier. Are there other parts of their “spend” that you can obtain? It’s certainly a worthwhile exercise to find out, because even if you don’t supply those services / products, it may be highly valuable information for the acquiring firm – remember what they also want to see in a customer is potential growth.

    Providing more knowledge about your top 10 clients will usually engender more confidence in the purchaser.

    Build systems

    Having your business systemised (refer tip 5), whether it be a quoting system, a print management system, or a management information system, will help build value, especially where that system can be integrated into the purchaser’s existing business.

    Many purchasers are looking for the extra value in the way your systems / IP can provide to their existing business.

    Obviously you don’t want to install an expensive system just before you sell. Careful forward planning will ensure that the system you purchase / develop, will have well and truly paid for itself by the time you come to sell.

    Have a sales and marketing plan

    Do you have a client retention and acquisition plan? – A proven method to replace, retain and grow your client base? If you can show you have a transferrable system and proven methodology, then this will be very highly valued.

    Take a long standing online printer for example – What would be the major risk to a purchaser if they were able to show they have a proven system, they have a proven method of acquiring clients (i.e. mail pieces or advertise in trade journals, they have 1300 customer service lines), retaining customers (i.e. proactive phone calls) and customer growth strategy (i.e. more services coming on line)? If it’s you or them (the proprietor) sitting in the chair, it doesn’t much matter, sales are proven to be growing, the customer base is building, and the business is sustainable and profitable.

    I’m not saying on line businesses are the way to go; I only provide this example to illustrate the value of sales and marketing plan.

    Your client list is a vital part of a business sale – in many circumstances it’s the only value purchasers see in your business. As detailed above, there is a lot that can be done to protect and build the data base.

    As should have become apparent from the above discussion, the time to think about this is not at the point of sale, it is well in advance. It may well be that you need to change your business model to be able to maximise the value you get for your business.

    Working through this process may also alert you to the fact that you have very little chance of keeping some top customers in the lead up to sale. If this is the case you had better have a very client acquisition strategy, because your business value will fall when you lose these clients. This may lead you the conclusion to exit early, when you still have a good client base.