Historic brands go as Ovato bids to compete with digital

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The name PMP - one of the survivors of Australia's printing and publishing industry - is no more, following a rebrand as Ovato.

Gone too, are historic former IPMG business names such as Offset Alpine Printing - made famous by a mysterious 'night before Christmas' fire while owned by a group of high-profile investors including stockbroker Rene Rivkin - the Hannan family's technology-leading Hannanprint and Earl Baskerville's Inprint.

PMP Group shareholders learned in November that the company - which embraces 20 businesses and operates across Australia and New Zealand, the UK and India - was to be rebranded as Ovato... which, as it happens is also the name of a cryptocurrency for loyalty and rewards.

The move comes more than a year after the merger with the Hannans' IPMG, which had owned OAP, Hannanprint and Inprint.

PMP's origins were as Pacific Magazines and Printing, based on Rupert Murdoch's Southdown Press, News' Pacific Publications, and printing businesses Progress Press, Griffin Press and Wilke & Co - the latter two historic printers which had been established in 1858 and 1895 respectively - floated as a public company in 1991 to reduce News' then problematic debt. News however stayed as a 45 per cent shareholder until 1997.

PMP added Showmega - the prepress, press and video business accumulated by the Sidwell family - in 1996, but was to unload Pacific Publications in two stages to Seven ending in 2002, after attempts to merge with the Hannans' IPMG had been blocked by regulators. The magazine business - which still publishes flagship Southdown titles such as New Idea and TV Week - are now part of Seven West Media, which also publishes the West Australian newspaper.

PMP finally acquired IPMG in 2017, the same year that Ive Group bought Phil Taylor's Franklin Web and AIW Printing for a reported $116 million. While consolidation within the two rival groups took out some uncompetitive capacity, Ive's construction of a new Franklin unit in Sydney anchored on two new 80-page manroland Lithoman heatset presses, has upset market balance, again creating headaches for PMP.

Once owned by publisher and businessman Kerry Packer, Offset Alpine is famous for a mysterious fire on December 24, 1993 which destroyed all its ageing but very-well-insured printing plant, leading to a massive increase in its share price and an investigation by regulators and police which ran for more than ten years.

The rebrand as Ovato sees the company's ASX listing code change from PMP to OVT and its core competencies focussed around "four pillars" of print, distribution, agency and production, "to support the business's vision of turning audiences into customers and driving growth".

Chief executive Kevin Slaven - who came to the merger from a 16-year career with IPMG and previously tech reseller Tech Pacific - says it provides an opportunity to focus on its clients and their needs directly. "While each of our businesses will come under the single brand, our work and commitment with all our clients will remain constant."

A new partnership with data and analytics business Quantium will link Ovato's house-to-house distribution capabilities and data with their data-cloud and AI platform. Slaven (pictured) says this will permit enhanced delivery targeting and measurability for print channels and campaigns, with analytics and ROI metrics "more akin to digital advertising".

Peter Coleman

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