IPC Media information gap

Jo Francis
Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring may be in the air, but Jo Francis has her eye on an important upcoming summer date for two UK magazine printers.

Spring is officially here, hoorah!

That is great news. But this important diary date has reminded me that weeks have now passed since January, when I’d expected there to be news regarding the outcome of IPC Media’s current print tender.

I thought it was supposed to be nailed down early in the New Year.

I don’t imagine that there is much spring in the step of the publisher’s two main print suppliers given the current information gap.

To re-cap: we’re talking about at least £20m worth of print here, and the current contracts held by Polestar and Wyndeham expire at the end of June.

To my understanding, both companies have pitched for a bigger chunk (or indeed all) of this work.

It seems things can go one of two ways: one, the status quo is largely maintained, with some finessing of the existing arrangements. And, no doubt, pricing.

Or, IPC decides to make A Very Big Decision and goes down a single-supplier route. That has huge implications for its suppliers (obviously) for IPC itself, and for other publishers as it would certainly have a major effect on the overall supply chain.

If that does happen, we are looking at huge potential financial losses to the incumbent that does lose out, with very little time left now to re-organise or look at taking on alternative work.

And, although Polestar’s new webs are on the way they won’t be up and running by the end of June, and what are the lead times on other kit that could be required such as binding lines?

The current arrangements expire in just 14 weeks. 14 weeks! We’re talking about millions of pounds worth of mission-critical mags here, not some sort of easy to place brochure.

Then we have the not-so-small matter of other related factors, such as paper and distribution.

Where is the hold-up?

Is it because new CEO Marcus Rich only arrived at the beginning of this month and the board is waiting for his say-so? Or is it with Guy Gleysteen, senior vice president of production at IPC’s US parent Time Inc, who oversees such matters globally now?

Could it be because Time Inc is restructuring as it prepares to spin-off from Time Warner? Such moves could result in a focus on short-term cost-savings rather than any long-term view. In which case, get on with it. 

I have never known anything like it for a contract of this size. Come on IPC, surely two long-standing and loyal suppliers deserve better than this?


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