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2005 Market outlook Printers in Full Court Press

December 2004
By far, the biggest development in the publication and catalog printing sectors has been the dramatic upswing in capital investment. In some cases the same equipment is slated to serve both markets, while other machines are going into plants dedicated to one or the other application.

The ranks of multiple web press purchasers includes the likes of Perry Judd's and Trend Offset Printing, but vying for the title of biggest spender are Quebecor World (22 presses) and Quad/Graphics ($200+ million for a range of equipment). Dave Boles, COO, North America, at Quebecor World, and Thomas Quadracci, president and CEO of Quad/Graphics, were kind enough to share some insights on these business moves.

PI: Why are the catalog and publication printing industry sectors experiencing an equipment buying spree? Is the answer different in any way for the two markets?

BOLES: We find it interesting that most of our competitors tend to lump 'mag/cat' together, as we refer to it. We still maintain that having market-focused factories is important. There are subtle things that make each of our divisions successful, and having scale in each is very important in today's printing environment.

We ordered 64-page presses because we live in a highly versioned world, no matter what segment of printing we're talking about. Increased pagination is going to give us much more favorable splits. For some time, we've had a real focus as a company on creating short-run mentalities and core competencies within longer run environments.

The time was right (to invest in new presses) in the sense that we'd pretty much completed the integration of World Color Press and Quebecor Printing. We had to instill a better sense of operating discipline and have sound strategic plans in place for each component of our business before we felt it was time to invest money in our platform.

The presses are just one part of the answer. I look at printing press technology as kind of a me-too thing, if you have the financial resources to make the type of investment we are making. It is the other things that ultimately win out in the market, such as having sound operating practices, financial discipline and cost control.

QUADRACCI: Quad/Graphics' approach to equipment purchases is, and always has been, strikingly simple: Continually upgrade to the newest, most efficient equipment when it becomes available. We have a long-standing practice of replacing equipment once it has served its useful, economic—vs. mechanical—life.
 

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