Catalog and Publication Outlook -- Proceed with Caution
Being Adaptable Is Key
Much like RR Donnelley, no one at Quebecor World is wearing rose-colored glasses. Sean Twomey, executive vice president of market development at Quebecor World, admits that these are troubling times, indeed. “We believe that 2009 is going to be a very difficult year for printers, as is the case with all manufacturing industries.”
“We’ve seen decreasing magazine ad sales, canceled titles, wholesale layoffs and production departments rationalizing capacity,” adds Kevin J. Clarke, Quebecor World’s president of publishing services. “And, there are the traditional issues—like rising paper, postage and distribution costs—as well as competition with the Internet, which could be more problematic than ever before, due to the severity of the present recession.”
Both agree that weakening magazine ad sales will be the most significant challenge heading into 2009. Some publishers are changing the formats of their publications, like Rolling Stone’s recent switch from tabloid to traditional format (which Quebecor facilitated seamlessly, says Twomey). Or, US Weekly’s transition to more regionalized news coverage to drive value (which Quebecor was instrumental in orchestrating, according to Clarke).
There’s also a shift in what types of magazines are finding/maintaining success. There is certainly a decline in mass-market publications that appeal to a broad range of people. Some of those titles are being challenged because the editorial content isn’t as timely or, because it’s so general, it loses its appeal to readers who want fresher, more insightful information.
Having spent $330+ million on its North American network, Clarke claims that Quebecor World is now better positioned to handle the economic instability that lies ahead.
The company aligned its six operations into three, which has provided great synergy, and its traditional printed products are aligned with other options, such as direct mail, co-mailing, co-stitching, etc. As a result, Clarke points out that the company is poised to handle challenges in 2009 in three major ways: its market strategy, pooling corporate resources and leveraging the benefits of sustainability.