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Quebecor World Plants Continue Realignment

April 2000
MONTREAL—As Quebecor recreates itself into Quebecor World following the acquisition of World Color, the company finds itself growing in some sectors and pruning itself in others. On one hand, a plant in Illinois is undergoing rapid expansion; on the other hand, a plant in St. Paul, MN, is shutting down.

Quebecor World Direct, the direct mail division of the company, is in the midst of creating a Midwest mega-facility in Effingham, IL, (the site of the former Quebecor Petty plant) that officials say will provide a comprehensive offering of direct response products and services in one location. The site will also include a lettershop and distribution into the postal system, similar to the mega-facility that has been created in the Southeast.

"We are implementing our customer-based strategy with a focus on satisfying our customers' requirements more comprehensively than ever before in this industry," says Ronald Covelli, president of the Direct Group. "We have listened to our customers, made acquisitions, and invested heavily to develop and enhance competencies unmatched in depth and scope. We will continue to listen and remain on the cutting edge to create products and services essential for our customers to succeed in their competitive environment. We are enthusiastic and excited about the positive impact this will have for our clients."

In addition to a multimillion-dollar investment for complex in-line and off-line finishing and imaging, this facility will be augmented with equipment and personnel from other Quebecor World plants. Most of the assets of an Aurora, IL, plant will be consolidated into this location. Personnel from facilities within the Direct Group will also be relocated to Effingham.

But for Effingham's yin, there is a yang in St. Paul.

Quebecor World says that in April it will close its printing plant there, one of the largest—and most historic—printing plants in the Twin Cities area.

Quebecor told its 553 workers that the site would join plants in Nashville and Houston, which were also closed as the firm eliminates redundancies and excess capacity in the combined operation.

"The decision to close the (St. Paul) plant was a difficult one, but was made because it doesn't fit our overall sales strategy with the acquisition [of World Color]," explains Sean Twomey, Quebecor's vice president of business development, in a published report. Twomey also notes that the plant had failed to meet financial targets.

An undetermined number of Quebecor's St. Paul workers may be able to transfer to other Quebecor plants. In addition, an outplacement service has been hired to help workers prepare resumes and find jobs locally.

Some of those employees have worked at the plant since the 1960s, when it was owned by Webb Publishing, publisher of Family Handyman and several other magazines. The magazines were all sold off after British media tycoon Robert Maxwell bought Webb in 1986. Quebecor took over in 1989, and undertook a $10 million expansion in 1998 after it landed a large contract.

The good news for workers at the plant is that the Twin Cities printing industry is extensive, and the job market there is tight—the unemployment rate in the city is a remarkable 1.6 percent. Indeed, when word got out that the plant was closing, proposals were immediately put forth for a job fair.
 

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