ACM clears Beaudesert plant in unreserved auction

Australian Community Media is clearing the magazine and printing plant at the former Beaudesert Times site in Queensland it bought from Nine Entertainment.

Peter Brand of National Auctions is offering the sheetfed printing and finishing equipment mostly built up by the Hodgson family prior to their sale to Fairfax Media in 2012. An online auction closes at 1.00 pm on March 31, with all lots unreserved.

Equipment includes four sheetfed presses - a five-colour Roland R505-LV from 2008, a 1999 Komori L428 and two single-colour Heidelberg GTOs - plus MBO folders, a CMC magazine overwrapper, folders, laminating, stitching, cutting and paper handling equipment and a Mercedes Benz truck.

Fairfax Media - which sold out to Nine in December 2018 - bought the family-owned Beaudesert Times and Jimboomba Times in the growth corridor of southeast Queensland in 2012.

The papers trace their history to October 1908, when the Beaudesert paper was created from the merger of two existing titles, and the Hodgson connection to the same time. Frank Hodgson (grandfather of then managing director Mark Hodgson) worked as manager and accountant for Irish-born politician Patrick Leahy, who held a controlling interest. Hodgson bought the paper progressively following Leahy's death in 1927.

Recent growth came hand-in-hand with that of the neighbouring town of Jimboomba, for which the company launched a new title in 1991. The company's website recalled how Hodgson had called staff together and challenged them to come up with ideas on circulation growth.

General manager John Bartlett rose to the challenge with a mock-up of a quarterfold publication he called the Jimboomba Times, and the first issue was produced that November. Both papers were then printed on a Heidelberg MO sheetfed press. In 2001 circulation hit 12,000 copies, with distribution rising beyond 20,000 homes and businesses in the area.

The company installed a four-unit Goss Community with an unusual DIN-sized 630 mm cut-off and quarterfold, to bring production inhouse in 2001, adding two four-high Tensor towers to it in 2004 and 2006.

In 2009, it added the CMC 2000 system for plastic wrapping, similar to that at the Canberra Times. But as Brand says, "like any piece of equipment, it's only worth what someone will pay for it."

Fairfax closed its own high-capacity production site at Ormiston in suburban Brisbane after contracting News Corp Australia to print many of its publications at Murarrie in suburban Brisbane, before the sale to Nine.

It is understood most of the production staff are losing their jobs and the property will then be offered for sale.

The property in Beaudesert's Short Street - currently listed 'off the market' by valuation site with estimates between $357,000-536,000 - sold in August 2012 for $1.35 million, almost ten times what it had changed hands for in 1994.

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