2019 in Review: Consolidation the name of the game

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As various sectors of print expanded and contracted, the benefits of buying a rival could not be underestimated, with 2019 seeing a flurry of consolidation in the print industry large and small.

Printers splashed the cash on buying businesses: 2019
Printers splashed the cash on buying businesses: 2019

IVE bought Salmat’s distribution business for $25m, and said it would be spending a similar sum in upgrading the operations. GJI Group had a busy year, buying Colour Corp first, then Signpac, to add to its growing portfolio of niche businesses. Lamson Paragon bought Gippsland Trade Printers; TC Printing bought Conlay Press; Guru Labels bought TyTags; Labelmakers bought LeMac; Avon bought Auscote in Brisbane, while also in Brisbane Vivid Finishing bought Elite Finishing; and Eckersley Group bought Cross & Hamilton. On the Apple Isle, Flying Colours bought Saunders Print in a major growth move, with Flying Colours chief Craig Pierce then taking a step back.

Southern Colour bought the assets of collapsed Rooster IMC, and took over the lease to the building in Mount Waverley, which has seen a succession of high profile print businesses occupy it, from Buscome Vicprint, through Penfold Buscome, to Geon, and then Rooster. Southern CEO Rod Dawson quipped that he told his staff it wasn’t Court #3 at Wimbledon, (the graveyard of Aussie tennis hopefuls). Also buying a large customer list was Finsbury Green, which bought the list and some of the assets of collapsed Waratah Group.

Label giant CCL bought Stuck on You for $8.1m, 25 years after owner Carrie Felton founded the business after failing to find the right labels for her son’s school supplies.

Across the Tasman, the heatset market went from three players to two when Mainland bought Inkwise. The biggest spend of the year was the $1.7bn investment by Nippon Paper in buying the Orora ANZ Fibre business.

On the supply side, paper merchant Spicers was bought by giant Japanese operation Kokusai Pulp & Paper, providing real benefits to the local market in supply – and six months later, Spicers bought the country’s biggest independent merchant Direct Paper, with the O’Neill brothers set to remain in the business. Terry Brisset handed over the reins of his roller business after virtually half a century, selling to Böttcher. The big two wide format players in New Zealand became one when Aarque bought Jenrite.

And over in New York, corporate lawyers were rubbing their hands with glee: first at the failed $6bn Xerox Fujifilm merger, which saw Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson lose his job and Fujifilm launch a $1bn lawsuit, which it then dropped when Xerox agreed to sell its stake in Fuji Xerox for $2.3bn – and latterly at Xerox’s hostile $33bn takeover bid for HP, a company nine times its size.

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