Hearst pays US$55 million to let Transcontinental exit SF print

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Of its day, it was the flagship printing plant and a leader in the move towards outsourced print. Now production of the San Francisco Chronicle is being handed back to its publisher Hearst Communications.

Canadian printer Transcontinental has announced that its TC Transcontinental business will transfer printing operations of its facility in Fremont, California, to Hearst on April 2, receiving US$42.8 million ($54.66 million) cash from Hearst by way of compensation for early termination of its agreement.

TC Transcontinental will still own the newspaper plant, which it will rent to Hearst until the end of 2024, but it is moving other equipment - along with retail printing work - to its other sites.

Canada's largest commercial printer, Transcontinental has been moving out of the newspaper segment as part of a policy to focus on packaging. It has sold its 12 newspapers in Quebec, and will shut its Metropolitain printing plan in Montreal this month as La Presse completes its exit from print with the closure of its Saturday edition. The last weekday edition of La Presse - which has focussed on a tablet digital edition - was published at the beginning of 2016.

The then 144-year-old San Francisco Chronicle switched "at a stroke" from 30-year-old flexo presses to full colour in July 2009, under a 15-year contract with Transcontinental, which added up to 24 pages of heatset gloss to the mix that November. The Canadian printer spent US$230 million on the plant which is equipped with hybrid triple-wide manroland Colorman XXL presses - with pioneering integrated QI Press Controls' IDS closed-loop colour density control system and microdot-based mRC colour - and Goss/Ferag mailroom equipment.

At the time, then sales and marketing vice president of manroland called it a "model for other newspaper publishers".

The pre-Christmas handover agreement was in stark contrast to closure of the newspaper, threatened with closure following falling circulations and lack of an agreement with unions on wage and benefit concessions.

Pictured: Three lines of Colorman XXL presses at the Fremont plant;

On our homepage: Trucks wait to fulfil the distribution part of the contract

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