Press, bindery orders soon as PBL goes ahead with print plans

It’s ‘back to the future’ as PBL Media defies a trend towards outsourcing and announces plans to print its own magazines again.

Drawing attention away from media interest in PBL’s debt level, chief executive Ian Law today announced plans to build “a state of the art print and distribution facility” – probably in western Sydney – to produce the magazines of its subsidiary, ACP Magazines, from 2011.

He says the plan for a single centralised facility follows “exhaustive analysis” of available printing options: “It became clear during the process there were compelling reasons to take control of the production of our publications,” he says. “The new technology available will deliver significant financial and operational benefits to the company when it is fully operational.”

Law says most of the costs related to the establishment of the facility will be funded through long term leases of land, buildings and equipment, with “little demand for up front capital”.

PBL has negotiated an agreement with contract printer PMP to continue to print most of its titles during the transition period.

Three potential sites for the new production and distribution facility have been identified, and a decision is to be taken soon. “At least five new, high speed state-of-the-art press and bindery lines will be installed, and the Network Services distribution arm will relocate to the site.

Discussions with major press and binding equipment manufacturers are to be finalised “in the next several weeks”, he says.

ACP is Australia’s largest magazine publisher with more than 80 weekly and monthly titles. Law says the significant volume of internal work provides a platform which will ensure the facility will be profitable in its own right. “We have identified additional cost savings relating to freight and other ancillary services that can be achieved by printing in one centralised production and distribution facility,” he says.

The new press and distribution facility will feature the latest equipment and resulting productivity and efficiency would add significantly to ACP Magazines’ capacity to

deliver value to readers and advertisers. “The new facility will provide ACP Magazines with a lower cost base for its existing business and it will provide greater flexibility in terms of new publishing initiatives,” he says.

• Ian Law, who took up his present position when PBL Media was formed in February 2007, was previously managing director of West Australian Newspapers, which embarked on a $210 million reequipment programme during his tenure.

He has recently been joined on the PBL board by incoming chairman Tim Parker, a UK businessman who replaced CVC Asia Pacific partner Adrian MacKenzie, who was chairman of PBL Media from formation. Board members are Parker, MacKenzie and Maarten Ruijs of CVC, James Packer and John Alexander of Consolidated Media Holdings, and Law and Pat O’Sullivan of PBL Media.
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