Review of the decade

Monday, December 14, 2009

As the curtain falls on the decade, the printing industry will be hoping that the next 10 years bring better fortune than the last. In a two-part look at events since the turn of the millennium, PrintWeek trawls the archive to revisit the stories that hit the headlines during one of the industry's most eventful periods

Read the second half of our review of the decade by clicking here.

Tell us the news you think was most important over the past decade by voting your choice in our poll.


January Creo bought Scitex's pre-press operations in a deal worth £380m. The purchase created an industry giant with a 20% share of the market worth around £2bn.

February Adare claimed to be one of the top-five direct mail players in the UK after buying Wimbledon-based Printronic.

March Polestar was rocked by the departure of two of its top directors: James Povey and Stephen Clark. Povey left the print giant to join Jarrolds, but rejoined Polestar in 2003.

April John Mansfield Group became one of the big five players in the print industry after buying Rexam's printing division for £85m. The move boosted its turnover to £300m.

May Pindar posted record results with a 15% growth in profits to £1.85m and an increase in sales to £63.5m.

June Suppliers were stunned at the amount of business done at Drupa. An unprecedented number of sales were reported by many of the industry's biggest players, including Heidelberg and Manroland.

July The future of Smurfit's Burnley board mill facility was saved following an MBO. The deal secured 220 jobs.

August The BPIF's quarterly Directions survey revealed that the print industry was facing an ongoing struggle, fierce competition and greater demands from customers.

September CPI was on the brink of strengthening its grip on the UK book market by acquiring Mackays of Chatham.

October St Ives' web division was locked in a pay dispute with GPMU members. Staff at the Caerphilly plant launched overtime bans and stoppages.

November An MBO team emerged as the front-runner to buy Communisis-owned Howitt. The Nottinghamshire company had changed hands twice in the previous two years.

December Christian Knapp was appointed KBA's UK managing director following the departure of Kelvin Lowe.

January Communisis sold Howitt to a buy-in MBO team headed by newly appointed managing director James Elliot.

February Polestar announced a pre-tax loss of £1.3m and year-end sales of £494m. Meanwhile Wyndeham issued a profits warning after its share price tumbled 20%.

March Scitex sold off its stakes in Vio and Karat. Vio managers staged a buy-out of the firm, while Karat was bought by KBA.

April Relations between West Ferry Printers and Express Group worsened after the former was on the brink of issuing a writ for the non-payment of a £6m print bill.

May Print management company Astron won a multimillion-pound contract with Siemens Business Services.

June The Goodhead Group axed several layers of senior and middle management following a rationalisation at its print site in Bicester.

July Barry Hibbert returned to Polestar as chief executive, replacing Jim Brown. In 1998, he quit his position as executive director and head of publications with the group.

August The High Court dismissed Northern & Shell's action against the Telegraph Group for breach of fiduciary duty over its proposed takeover of West Ferry Printers.

September Goss Holdings entered into a Chapter 11 agreement. It followed the decision by Goss Graphic Systems to cease production of newspaper presses in the US.

October Quebecor World announced plans to close six factories and cut 2,600 jobs. Meanwhile, Agfa planned to cut 4,000 jobs following a restructure of its Horizon division.

November Service Graphics was formed by the management of Photobition UK Graphics Division following the demise of parent firm Photobition.

December Picon announced it would commit £1m over the following four years to encourage high-calibre graduates to join the industry.

January St Ives issued a profit warning and stopped web printing at its Direct plant in Leeds, resulting in the loss of 125 jobs.

February Xerox returned to operational profitability following five consecutive quarters of losses. The group started to highlight the benefits of using targeted and personalised direct mail.

March Belgian electronics specialist Punch won the race to buy Xeikon, ahead of Manroland and Yam International. Xeikon had been declared bankrupt at the start of the month.

April Finnish paper group M-real sold its Winpac sheeting and logistics services company to a management-led team in a £2.45m deal.

May Communisis bought Centurion Press in a £42m deal and gave the group a major presence in the print management sector. At the time, Centurion was the third-biggest player in the sector with a turnover of £55.7m

June Richard Desmond took the helm of the West Ferry Printers board as chairman following 15 months of wrangling.

July The GPMU held talks with three separate unions about the possibility of a merger.

August Benhamgoodheadprint emerged as the likely winner of a contract to print BT's purple-coloured rival to the Yellow Pages, The Phone Book.

September Heidelberg warned of a 10% fall in sales after failing to see any signs of an economic recovery in the US and Europe. Restraints on advertising spend had led to lower print volumes.

October Howitt confirmed that it planned to build a 56,000m2 gravure superplant near its premises in Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. Construction was expected to begin in 2003.

November Book printer Biddles announced that it was shutting down its Guildford plant and that it would concentrate production at its King's Lynn plant.

December The BPIF and the GPMU reconciled their differences over training and pledged their combined support for the launch of the Print Industry Forum.

January Transactional mailing company Edotech extended its reach into Europe by acquiring Swiss competitor Cominformatic in a £6.5m deal. The move expanded the firm's data management capabilities.

February The Print Factory won a £10m print management deal from broadcaster BskyB. The contract was previously held by Centurion.

March Jarrold Printing withdrew its plans to make compulsory job cuts following talks with the GPMU.

April Tewkesbury web printer Cooper Clegg had its toughest year since formation, reporting a pre-tax loss of £1.9m.

May A forklift-truck driver at book printer Clays pleaded guilty to the theft of first-edition copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

June Boots brought two major contracts back from the continent and awarded them to Polestar.

July BPIF chief executive Michael Johnson said that finding an alternative to the annual National Agreement would be tackled by the federation's project with the GPMU Partnership at Work.

August Kodak formed a dedicated commercial printing business unit in a bid to challenge the likes of Xerox and Hewlett Packard. The division included its NexPress joint venture with Heidelberg.

September Howitt's self-imposed deadline to release a statement regarding its future plans, including its gravure project, passed with no comment forthcoming. The gravure plant had been hit by delays due to the complexity of the financial contracts involved.

October Vision in Print chief executive Richard Gray reported a positive meeting with secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt. The print industry forum was launched at the start of the year.

November Heidelberg, KBA and Manroland all reported significant losses, but claimed that industry prospects were improving.

December The London College of Printing announced it would change its name. From spring 2004, it would be known as the London College of Communication.

January Agfa made a surprise re-entry into the digital print market by acquiring inkjet press developer Dotrix.

February The former Colorgraphic ‘dream team' – Nick Dixon, Mike Hunter and Rick Taylor – rescued Howitt after the company went into administrative receivership.

March Heidelberg sold off its web press manufacturing arm to Goss and its NexPress digital arm to Kodak to focus on its core business of sheetfed machinery.

April Print management company Astron bought Edotech for £130m. The following month, Edotech's Sam Ferguson left the company after the deal was completed.

May Bertelsmann print subsidiary Arvato confirmed that it was to build a €100m, four-press gravure plant in Liverpool. The plant would be built at Speke creating 400 jobs.

June Williams Lea won a multimillion-pound ongoing print management contract from computer software giant Microsoft.

July Polestar signed a five-year contract to replace Quebecor World as the major supplier of supplements for Associated Newspapers.

August Members of the GPMU voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposed merger with Amicus, with 86% of members agreeing to the proposal.

September Johnston Press decided on a location in Sheffield for its new £60m printing facility. The company anticipated that the 16,000m2 facility would be operational by the end of the year.

October In an exclusive report, PrintWeek revealed that News International planned to replace its Wapping facility with a new plant at Waltham Cross. A week later details were released of a £600m investment in three sites at Waltham Cross, Knowsley and Glasgow. Meanwhile, Polestar opened the doors on its Sheffield gravure plant.

November The Times axed its broadsheet edition, marking an end to 216 years of broadsheet publishing, as it completed the move to a tabloid format.

December New Jarrold announced that it was to buy the UK's first 64pp KBA web as part of its £40m reinvention scheme. The company had been established earlier in the year after Jarrold & Sons agreed to sell a 70% stake to a team led by ex-TPL Printers managing director Bob Pitts.

January Heidelberg celebrated 30 years of doing business in the UK.

February Kodak signed an agreement to buy Creo for £520m ending the battle for control of the company that had been waged by the board of directors and a group of dissident shareholders.

March Newsquest confirmed the appointment of Charles Jarrold as the new managing director of subsidiary Southernprint.

April RR Donnelley signed an agreement to buy David Mitchell's BPO group Astron for £520m in the deal of the year.

May Polestar's Barry Hibbert predicted that the UK would become Europe's biggest producer of print within the next five years.

June UK printers and publishers switched to alternate sources and paper stocks as supplies from Finnish paper mills ran out following a six-week lockout of staff.

July Ink giant Xsys Print Solutions bought Flint Ink to create the world's second-biggest ink manufacturer.

August Mid-Ocean Partners completed the purchase of retail print specialist Bezier from another private equity group, Electra Partners, for £77m.

September Book group CPI was acquired in a £380m MBO led by its co-founder Timothy Bovard.

October The Polestar saga continued as Barry Hibbert said that the firm would cease to exist in its current form a year hence. This was followed by the shock resignation of Stephen Clark as managing director of Polestar Sheffield, seven months after joining to head up the group's gravure superplant.

November James Elliot returned to the printing industry after leading a management buy-in at west London commercial printer Garden House Press.

December A number of print firms were hit by an explosion at the Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead.

January St Ives' share price tumbled after it issued a trading update to say that its interim results would be "significantly below market expectations".

February Private equity firm Media & Print Investments made its first foray into print after snapping up Hampshire-based commercial printer Borcombe SP. Meanwhile, Deutsche Post World Net acquired a 51% stake in Williams Lea from private equity house 3i.

March Adare Group was sold to a secondary MBO team led by Richard Whiteside in a £119.5m integrated debt and equity deal. Wyndeham accepted a takeover offer from Icelandic investment company Dagsbrün.

April Fulmar accepted a 122.5p per-share bid from European book group CPI, which valued the firm at £33m.

May Lasting Impressions went into administration despite hopes that moving into a state-of-the-art facility the previous August would improve the business's fortunes. It was then bought, in June, by MPG.

June Howitt placed Olwen Direct Marketing Services, its Croydon Arm, into administration after the division continued to make "unacceptable losses".

July Magazine and directory printer Benhamgoodheadprint revealed it was to restructure its operation at its Bicester plant with 70-80 redundancies announced.

August St Ives revealed that "serious accounting errors" at its point-of-sale division would wipe £2.8m off the group's profits – shares fell following the announcement with the company's values suffering a 13% hit.

September New Jarrold Printing ceased trading after its biggest customer, the National Magazine Company, pulled its work out of the Norwich plant. All 286 of Jarrold's employees were made redundant.

October Rumours circulated that St Ives had been approached by a mystery bidder over a possible buyout. Tangent Communications was later unmasked as the bidder with its offer of 272.5p per share declined.

November In a major coup, Williams Lea snapped up The Stationery Office for a rumoured £130m.

December Polestar's financial stability was secured after a £814m refinancing arrangement was agreed upon, that included, albeit very briefly, the company being placed into administrative receivership.

January Media & Print Investments almost doubled in size overnight following its purchase of sheetfed magazine printer The Friary Press.

February TPF Group, formerly known as The Print Factory, became the UK's largest digital printer after placing the then biggest-ever order for a Xerox iGen3.

March The future of magazine printer Cooper Clegg was safeguarded after Pindar completed a takeover.

April TPM Group purchased two companies out of administration: Reelform and Premier Print, both formerly from NPM Group.

May French-owned book group CPI bought struggling Suffolk book printer Clowes.

June Graphoprint, the North Wales web offset magazine printer, fell into administration and later ceased production after laying off all but 12 of its 192 staff.

July Terry Smith Group, the point-of-sale specialist, was bought by procurement and business consultancy Realisis after it fell into administration.

August TPF's rollercoaster year continued with Steve Brundle announcing the probable closure of Wace.

September Xerox Global Services bagged a £25m contract with the NHS in the North West in a five-year deal.

October Heidelberg's long-awaited entry into the very large-format sector came a step closer with the completion of a £31m assembly hall.

November Williams Lea secured a billion-dollar direct marketing contract with the Reader's Digest Association and expanded its business into Germany.

December Quebecor World was facing a battle against bankruptcy after the collapse of a deal to sell its loss-making European division to Roto Smeets parent company, RSDB.

January Quebecor World was given two weeks to raise £63m having been thrown a lifeline by its lenders. It then pulled the plug on its only UK operation in Corby and was given Chapter 11 creditor protection in the US.

February TPF confirmed it had entered into a 30-day consultation period with staff over a number of redundancies across the business.

March Beswick Paper made a surprise £19m swoop for fellow merchant Premier Paper Group, after the European Competition Commission ruled Antalis needed to sell Premier to complete its acquisition of Map Merchant Group.

April AccessPlus was poised to become the print management division of Office2office after the stationery supplier made a £26m bid for the company.

May After Butler and Tanner owner Mike Dolan delivered on his threat to close the business if strikes went ahead, former director Kevin Sarney made a bid to purchase the business.

June St Ives emerged as the surprise winner of Sainsbury's multimillion-pound print management contract.

July Felix Dennis was hailed a hero after stepping in to support Kevin Sarney's £500,000 eleventh-hour bid to save Butler and Tanner. The company was relaunched as Butler, Tanner & Dennis.

August TPF lost its primary-source print management contract with Sky believed to be worth around £25m a year.

September Investment vehicle HS Printers emerged as the surprise buyer of the operating companies of the beleaguered Media & Print Investments in a pre-pack administration deal for Borcombe SP and Goodman Baylis.

October As the global financial crisis took hold, Wyndeham said that it would continue to operate normally despite the collapse of its leading lender Landsbanki, which was later nationalised.

November HS Printers put Goodman Baylis into administration just six weeks after acquiring the company, while Borcombe SP was bought in a pre-pack administration deal by Datateam Publishing shortly afterwards.

December Walstead Investments acquired Wyndeham in a deal that was widely welcomed by its rivals as a sign of the much-needed consolidation.

January Cooper Clegg was closed after a buyer could not be found for the business after a management buyout led by John Wood the previous November failed.

February Print veteran John Boden bought Cromwell Press, Cpod and Chivers Press out of administration.

March Print management behemoth Communisis reported a 61% rise in profits, but warned that market prices were unsustainable.

April St Ives shocked the industry by announcing plans to close its Crayford site.

May RR Donnelley launched and then dropped an audacious bid for rival Quebecor World.

June More than 250 print jobs were lost in the space of a week as companies including MPGi, Pinewood Media Group and Paterson Printing went into administration.

July Wyndeham owner Walstead Investments bought Southernprint to form a £100m-turnover business.

August An employment survey found that the chances of finding a job in print fell by 17% in a single year.

September Communisis chief Steve Vaughan resigned after the group posted a 78% profit fall.

October Confirmation came that the recession was the longest since records began in 1955 after a 0.2% contraction in the third quarter of 2009.

November Astron founder David Mitchell returned to the printing industry after heading a management buy-in at Bezier.

December A controversial report by insolvency specialist Tenon Recovery claimed that nine out of 10 print companies are in danger of collapse, the study was subsequently panned by the industry.

The second installment in our review of the decade will appear in the 8 January issue.

What's the story? Tell us the news you think was most important over the past decade by voting now.


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