Who will be print’s flag-bearer?

By Darryl Danielli, Monday 22 May 2017

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Despite it being more than a year since its demise, if you put the word Polestar in a PrintWeek headline then it’s still guaranteed to be one of the most read stories.

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PrintWeek editor Darryl Danielli

Despite the now accursed name being consigned to the annals of history – and the toxic legacy of the business being such that if the ‘P’ word is muttered, the speaker must cross themselves, turn three times and spit over their shoulder to avoid bad luck – its profile in print and beyond was unmatched.

So, it got me thinking about who will be the Polestar of tomorrow?

Not in the ‘the company that everyone loves to hate’ kind of way or for being labelled the “one of the worst failures of a European leveraged buy-out deal in recent years” by the FT, but for being a print group that graces the financial pages for all the right reasons this time.

Because we desperately need a high-profile flag-bearer that will restore the sector’s tarnished reputation in the financial world and beyond.

Right now there are two clear front runners for the honour: Paragon Group and Walstead.

With its recent acquisition of DST, Paragon Group has nudged ahead in terms of scale, but Walstead Group isn’t far behind, and with St Ives undergoing a strategic review that could result in it selling its £220m print ops, then the field is wide open.

But who knows, perhaps the fact that the two business don’t cross swords in terms of the markets they’re active in means they could both bolt on the relevant parts of the St Ives businesses.

And then we could end up being blessed by two £500m-plus doyens of the finance world, rather than being forever cursed by the reputation of one. 

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