A bumpy ride for the industry: 2011's good and bad news

By Adam Hooker, Wednesday 14 December 2011

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Perhaps the biggest news came late in 2011: the administration one of the world's largest press manufacturers. But this was not the only earth-shattering story covered by PrintWeek. We look back on the news - good and bad - that made 2011 one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory.

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It's been a year of highs and lows

January

More than 250 jobs were put at risk at Transactis’s Liverpool site after it was sold to RR Donnelley… Maurice Payne, founder of Theale, Reading-based Maurice Payne Colourprint, passed away… Granite Colour went into administration after the failure of its subsidiary business The Good News Press, and its assets and goodwill were subsequently bought by Park Communications… SV Two Digital went into liquidation owing more than £1m to creditors, with the loss of 12 jobs, less than six months after its litho sister company closed… MDA Creative went into administration after losing one of its biggest regular contracts… The company formerly known as Eurogloss Print Finishers closed its doors forever…

February
Eclipse Colour and 4DM Group unveiled a plan to merge… Merseyside mailing house Character DPM Group (Character DPM) and its Stockport subsidiary Character Mailing Services (Mailing Services) went into administration, with 44 redundancies… Southernprint confirmed the closure of finishing subsidiary Southern Binders, with 101 redundancies… Agfa Graphics acquired consumables supplier Litho Supplies in a below-the-radar deal… Heidelberg named Ricoh as it digital partner...  Administrators called in at Alito Color Group, with the company citing the fall-out from buying TPF Group’s manufacturing arm… Stephens & George won a £4m three-year contract to print Haymarket Media Group’s sheetfed B2B titles...  Scunthorpe-based magazine and journal printer Journal Printing Company ceased trading with the loss of 45 jobs.

March
Thanet Press, the Margate-based commercial printer, ceased trading with all 85 staff made redundant… Indian private equity fund IVFA acquired a controlling stake in north London pre-media business FMG for $20m (£12.5m) DW Jones was sold out of administration to a company formed by previous directors… Walstead Investments bought the loss-making St Ives magazine arm for £20m… CPI bought the UK’s first HP T350 in the second phase of its £22m pan-European spend… Communisis sealed a £30m three-year print management contract to supply Everything Everywhere, the merged company of T-Mobile and Orange…

April
Folio (Bristol)’s managing director hit out after its bank froze its invoice discounting facility, forcing it into administration… MPG Books Group unveils £3m digital book production spend… Pindar secured new banking facilities with HSBC, as it tackled a £26.7m pension deficit and an operating loss of £993,000… Character DPM was rebranded Character Media after being acquired out of administration by Magnadata Group, saving 11 jobs… Polestar was taken over by the European wing of US private equity business Sun Capital Partners; the new owner jettisoned the pension liability as part of the deal… Alito Color Group’s  business and assets were sold out of administration to ex-director David Collins…

May
Cre8 Publishing went into liquidation owing printers around £320,000... NGS Print Finishers went into administration owing £1.5m, of which almost £700,000 was owed to other finishing companies… Two directors of Pinpoint Press were sentenced for the supply and distribution of £2.5m of counterfeit DVDs and inlays… Documents emerged suggesting Polestar was near collapse in the run-up to its takeover… employees at Wyndeham Impact staged a walk-out over changes to terms and conditions… GW Chapman & Sons Print ceased trading… BGP exited its contract with Future Publishing due to price, with the contract being moved to William Gibbons... 145 jobs were put at risk at Wyndeham Plymouth as new owner Walstead looked to consolidate its web offset capacity by closing the site…

June
Polestar started reviewing operations, trying to trim a quarter of web offset capacity and 150 office staff… Aldridge Print Group went into administration, with parts taken on by Blue Printing Group. Aldridge was found to have failed, owing £2m to creditors… Wyndeham said it was to shut its Apple web offset business after contract losses… Communisis bought the Bristol site of Orchestra, which produced the TV licence, after the company fell to the administrators… Slough-based Andrews Finishing went into administration, costing 60 jobs; it cited the declining web offset sector… Maurice Payne Colourprint (MPC) reportedly closed its doors with 60 staff left without pay… Nuffield Press, seemingly considering a merger with MPC, went into administration…

July
Pindar chairman Andrew Pindar instructed KPMG to find a buyer for the £55.3m-turnover business, citing unsustainable margins in the web offset sector and a £19.5m hole in its pension scheme… Wyndeham entered consultation with 58 staff at Roche site… York Mailing bought Pindar’s web offset division in Scarborough in a pre-pack deal after Pindar failed to find a buyer and was placed in administration… Williams Lea bought Tag Worldwide and separately won a £250m central government print contract... News International closed New of the World following the fall-out from the phone-hacking scandal...

August
Halstan Holdings bought Pindar’s map division from the administrator, who closed the Pindar Preston site after failing to find a buyer… Heidelberg bought German digital press manufacturer CSAT... IOS acquired Lateral Group, buying out co-founders Nick Dixon, Mike Hunter and Rick Taylor… Webtech, the Irish owner of packaging printer James Townsend & Sons, was to close the Exeter-based business, according to Unite… BBC sold its consumer magazine arm to Exponent in £121m deal...

September
Bezier was sold in a management buyout backed by HIG Europe, the European arm of private equity firm HIG Capital… Pindar’s Agility software business was sold out of administration to an MBO team and renamed Agility Multichannel… Wyndeham Group entered into consultation with 58 employees ahead of the proposed closure of its Impact plant, which had been subject to prolonged strike action… Clays announced a £5m spend on new digital book-printing kit… St Ives acquired data marketing business Response One Holdings and retail and consumer insight agency Pragmar Holdings… Reflections Print offered to pay unsecured creditors just over £1m over five years under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA)… Pindar’s confidential print business was sold to Secure & Confidential Documents…

October
IOS and Lateral Group began a strategic review of their operations… DS Smith completed the sale of Higher Kings Mill to Asia File Corporation… Wyndeham entered into a 90-day consultation with 280 staff at its Roche facility… Pindar’s Preston plant secured more than £2m through a private auction and online sale of equipment… 40 jobs were lost at John McCormick & Co when the company went into receivership… Creditors of Reflections Print Lamination voted in favour of accepting a CVA… Communisis entered into consultation with around 90 staff at Orchestra Bristol amid plans to transfer its BBC contract to its Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds sites… CFH Total Document Management acquired the business and assets of FST Technologies out of administration… The Midas Press fell into administration with 72 staff made redundant…  Polestar’s hived-off pension scheme entered the Pension Protection Fund... Buxton Press was named Company of the Year at the PrintWeek Awards...

November
Former Polestar group operations director Peter Andreour returned to the job… Manroland board member for sheetfed printing Markus Rall announced that he would step down... Royal Mail closed its iRed document management subsidiary… Alderson Print Group (APG) began restructuring after key employees’ departures... Lateral Group founder Nick Dixon returned as chief executive of IOS, following Mark Felstead’s departure... George Osborne unveiled a £20bn loan plan for SMEs... Media mogul Richard Desmond officially opened Express Group’s Luton print sire... Manroland filed for insolvency…

December
Just over a week after the administration of its parent company, Manroland GB appointed administrators… In Scotland, Stewarts of Edinburgh also fell into administration. Both firms appointed PwC…


READER REACTIONS

Steve Sibbald
National officer, Unite
"There have been so many big stories this year it’s difficult to pick one. It would probably be a toss-up between Sun Capital taking over Polestar and Wyndeham buying St Ives web division. If pushed, I would say Wyndeham buying St Ives, because it has consolidated the industry so much. It is unrecognisable from where it was five years ago. If you had said then that there would be just two big players, people would have said you were being very pessimistic."

Kathy Woodward
Chief executive,
BPIF
"My great headline for 2011 is ‘the British book industry fights back’. Most are based in rural geographies and are the main employer in the region; instead of rolling over, they have upped their act. They are run by great entrepreneurs who have invested in the latest technology, re-engineered the supply chain, brought back overseas production, invested in training and development and are strong on the environment. And they are not afraid to market themselves."

Jacky Sidebottom
Managing director, Glossop Cartons
"Manroland going into administration. When an industry giant fails, it sends a shock wave through the industry and forces you to re-assess all your suppliers for stability and the implications for your own business if they fail. We have updated our disaster plan to include failure of a manufacturer, which is very sad. Obviously the timing adds to the magnitude of the story; there are so many employees and families facing uncertainty over Christmas, it makes your heart ache."

Michael Moradian
Owner, Print Express London
"The closure of Manroland was a defining moment for print. Although we don’t operate in that area of the industry, when one of the biggest manufacturers closes, it is huge. It was inevitable, though; with printers struggling to survive and get access to funding, it must affect manufacturers. The message next year is, as an industry, we have to concentrate on adding value and stop cutting each other’s throats. We just need to be more creative and more inventive."

Roger Severn
Managing director, Aquatint BSC
"I think lately the biggest news has been the news that we haven’t been reading, rather than the news we have been reading. There seems to have been a definite slowdown in the number of companies in trouble and the industry seems to be stabilising a little bit. At one stage, every time you opened PrintWeek it seemed that this company was going or that one. It is encouraging that the pace of that news has slowed."

Jo Watkiss
Communications director, Watkiss Automation
"I think by far the biggest print-related story this year has to be the debacle surrounding the News of the World. It is a perfect example of a dubious practice and poor control by management leading to very unfortunate circumstances. The thing is, it is still ongoing. While the
newspaper may have closed, News International is still very much in the spotlight as we head into 2012."

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