CATALOG Market — Recovery Is a Custom Order

BY MARK SMITH

Technology Editor

Consumer spending was the only positive note on the economic front for some time, but that doesn’t mean the numbers still couldn’t stand some improvement. Now that the recovery has broadened to include business spending as it continues to gain steam, catalog printers have reason to be more upbeat about business prospects going into 2004, thanks to the trickle-down benefits of all this spending.

“Positive economic trends bode well for the catalog industry in 2004,” agrees Dan Knotts, president of Magazine, Catalog and Retail Industries at RR Donnelley. “As consumer confidence builds, catalogers will see growth again—albeit at a slower rate than they experienced before the economic downturn.

Top 10 Catalog Printers
  Company Segment
Sales
(millions)
Total
Sales
(millions)
1 Quebecor World
Montreal
$998 $6,242
1 *RR Donnelley
Chicago
$998 $4,754
3 Quad/Graphics
Sussex, WI
$954 $1,800
4 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$218 $1,366
5 Arandell Corp.
Menomonee Falls, WI
$208 $226
6 Perry Judd’s
Waterloo, WI
$90 $290
7 Brown Printing
Waseca, MN
$76 $380
7 The Dingley Press
Lisbon, ME
$76 $80
9 Trend Offset
Los Alamitos, CA
$75 $187
10 Spencer Press
Wells, ME
$73 $82

Sales figures are based on above printers’ self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.

* RR Donnelley’s figure for this market segment also includes ad inserts.

“The key market forces and factors we monitor reflect a cautiously optimistic view of print demand and include strength in U.S. retail sales, e-commerce sales and ad spending, which all affect the health of catalogers,” Knotts continues. “An increase in catalog production of 1 percent overall could result as early as the second quarter of next year. However, we expect major consumer retailers and business-to-business operators to grow even faster as they have more scale to leverage in an upturn.”

Mark Deterding, president of the Banta Catalog Group, also uses the “cautiously optimistic” phrase to describe the outlook for 2004. “We are seeing both page counts and run quantities starting to increase with the up tick in the economy,” he explains.

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