When is a Book Not a Book? – September 2013 M&A Activity
Unfortunately for those of us involved in the more mundane pursuit of increased revenue and profits gained through the repetitive application of ink on substrate, the growth of the Artist’s Book movement and endurance of personal stationery will not come close to reversing the larger trends impacting the industry, as evidenced by the deals announced in September.
As I projected during my recent presentation in the NAPL booth at Print 13, the transactional/transpromo printing sector will be under continued stress from the constant pressure from credit card issuers, utilities, communication providers and others that issue monthly statements to “go electronic.” International Paper named the e-statement trend as a key factor in its decision to shut down its massive paper mill in Courtland, Alabama. The giant paper manufacturer also cited the overall decline in the demand for the grades of printing and copier paper that have been manufactured at Courtland since 1971. On the other side of the country, Harbor Paper in Hoqiuam, Washington, a small mill manufacturing copier grade papers, closed after struggling, unable to pay for its electricity.
American Express indicated that the same trend, increasing e-delivery of its monthly statements, was behind its announcement to close its in-plant facility in Weston, Florida. American Express will now outsource its declining volume of statements delivered via U.S. mail.
Ennis continued its steady beat of acquisitions of printers that manufacturer specialty products, purchasing Folder Express in Omaha, Nebraska, and picking up the Custom Envelope Division from Cenveo. In the strategic choices available to commercial printers, product specialization, customer selectivity or service diversification, Ennis appears to clearly be driving growth by finding and investing in specialty product niches, now having appeared on our deal log five times in the past two years, with the three previous transactions all focused on printed forms and related product specialties.