2019 IN REVIEW: A roller coaster year for ANZ print

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Every year is a big year in the print industry, and 2019 was bigger than most, as the industry continues to rapidly evolve in the face of ongoing digital disruption, with wins and losses, highs and lows. Print21 has been there every step of the way, to bring you all the news, insight and analysis as it happened.

New, news, news: and Happy Christmas from all at Print21
News, news, news: and Happy Christmas
from all at Print21

The year was a roller coaster ride alright, with highs and lows in every direction – but ending on a high with the completion of the biggest heatset web plant in the southern hemisphere at Ovato Warwick Farm, which opened in its new form just last week.

Key takeaways from 2019 in ANZ print were the ongoing huge investment in digital print production from the major technology developers, reflecting their belief in the future viability of the industry; the increasing importance of data and its integration into print; the resilience of certain sectors of print – catalogues being a prime example; the continued consolidation of all areas of print; and, crucially, the opportunities emerging for printers of all sizes coming from the blurring of the boundaries between different types of print thanks to digitisation.

The ability of Australian and New Zealand print – far from the centres of the print universe – to produce outstanding work was recognised as never before. Momento Pro, for instance, won what is effectively best printer in the world with its best in show Benny, and it wasn’t alone in winning international accolades.

Investment in new technology by ANZ printers, who have a global reputation as early adopters and innovators, continued, with those investments in latest technologies by printers large and small a feature of the year as they backed their belief in their own strategies with their own cash. Finding a niche and owning it is clearly a winning strategy: Beacon Print, for instance, prints its own and other community newspapers, and has just invested in a new newspaper press – that’s not a story you hear every week.

And in an industry which has been battling an ageing leadership, one of the highs of the year has undoubtedly been the emergence of young people, male and female, with new ideas, youthful energy, and an ability to take the best of the old craft and marry it with the new data-driven tech world that they inhabit.

Disruption means casualties, and there have been more than a few of those. The last couple of months in Melbourne in particular have seemed like a firestorm with major outfits there such as Whirlwind, Rooster IMC, The Bindery, Waratah, and Adherettes all sinking. But disruption also means opportunity, and the pages of Print21 magazine have seen a constant stream of businesses that are taking those opportunities highlighted over the year.

The year has seen ongoing consolidation in all areas as two went into one many times – with printers, suppliers, developers, and publishers all buying each other – and we have witnessed the high-stakes battles royal in New York between industry heavyweights Xerox and Fujifilm, and latterly Xerox and HP, to remind us all that there are multiple agendas going on in print at any one time.

One of the big winners of the year – and one which is beneficial for all of us – was Media Super, the print industry super fund. It achieved the number three spot in the annual performance table of all 187 super funds, so big congratulations to Graeme Russell and the team – keep up the good work.

As we look to next year, it will be defined by drupa, the world’s biggest trade fair held once every four years, which sets the agenda for print. Plenty of ANZ printers will be making the trip to Düsseldorf, as the show itself evolves in line with the times.

Like everything in life, print cannot be defined by a single generalisation. Yes, parts of it took a battering in 2019, but equally other parts showed vision, agility, and growth.

Each headline in Print21 is essentially someone’s story. We rejoice with those seeing success and sympathise with those whose plans have not come to fruition. One of the many great things about the era in which we now live is that mental health is no longer a taboo subject. For any who may be struggling as a result of this year, please reach out to someone – the stigma has gone, we are all in this together. Kudos to people like Böttcher’s Steve Gamble, and Andrew Ward at Konica Minolta for their great work in this area.

There will be plenty to look forward to in 2020, in an industry which is a microcosm of the changing world in which we inhabit. Print21 will be at the heart of it of course, we look forward to seeing you there.

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