Big new press leads relocation as Hannanprint abandons gravure plans

Shorter print runs resulting from the GFC and continuing market contraction have finally put to rest plans to introduce gravure printing at IPMG’s new Warwick Farm site, to which relocation will start this year (writes Peter Coleman).

The privately-owned company is buying a new stacked 96-page manroland Lithoman press to spearhead the move to the south-west Sydney site – which it bought for $29 million in 2008 – from inner-city Alexandria.

The $90 million total investment is also likely to include a Ferag Unidrum stitching line, and will see the shedding of about a third of the present workforce.

Managing director Stephen Anstice told GXpress that the value of the Alexandria site – now surrounded by residential unit and bulk retail developments – and colossal land taxes were a consideration in the decision to move.

Another factor may be the renewal of contracts to print most of News Limited’s heatset products and “all” of those of Fairfax Media.

The former British Oxygen site fronting Bourke and O’Riordan Streets was acquired more than two decades ago and, the company says it will vacate “one of the largest properties within Alexandria to become available for lease” by March 2013.

“We’re also installing a press with an expected life of 20 years, and don’t want to be moving it any time soon,” he says.

Anstice says the original plans for a gravure supersite at Warwick Farm were reconsidered when print runs started falling as a result of the global financial crisis: “Last year, we noted that run lengths had continued to deteriorate, and much of this volume – including magazines and newspaper inserts – will not return,” he says.

Web-offset is now seen as more flexible and appropriate to meet the needs of Hannanprint’s clients.

The highly-automated new 96-page Lithoman press – with a quarto-style 578 mm cut-off – will be configured as two 48-page presses, with units and dryers literally stacked on top of each other. To be installed next year, it will include manroland’s Aurosys paper roll handling, and high-level automation, possibly including plate logistics.

Anstice says other existing Lithoman presses will be moved to the site, one displaced press moved to Melbourne, and older equipment retired. the company’s Brisbane site is also to be upgraded.

An extra 4000 m2 of high-bay warehousing is to be added to the 35,000 m2 of existing buildings on the 12.8 hectare site. IPMG will also build a siding to connect it to the South Sydney Freight Line network, enabling it so save up to 19 truck movements a day.

The company says energy reduction measures include rainwater capture and improved water cycle management, solar panels, heat recovery and the use of gas instead of electricity in many processes. “Our aim is to operate the most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable plant possible,” says Anstice.

Relocation will take 12-18 months, and IPMG says it expects most the 280 staff will transfer from Alexandria. The high level of automation will see about 140 people made redundant.

The last two years have also seen IPMG expand its investments in digital marketing, with businesses covering managed hosting, digital creative, email and mobile technology platforms and social media.

Last month, the company acquired the remaining shares in digital creative agency Holler Sydney.

• IPMG subsidiary Offset Alpine Printing has followed its PICA and National Print Awards successes with three ‘Benny’ awards in the Printing Industries of America competition. Its ‘Capabilities+’ book won categories for high fidelity printing, self-promotion and special innovation against competition from 3200 entries from 13 countries.

The book is a showpiece of special effects and techniques that demonstrate the company’s skills and abilities and acts as a reference tool for creatives.

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