KingsWeb Inc., a Mississauga-based commercial printer has closed its doors. Managed by the Slater family for over 25 years, the company operated out of a 50,000-square-foot facility.

The company had approximately 70 employees running two shifts, six days a week.

Multiple calls to the company yielded a simple message saying that the office was closed. The company also operated Queenstone Services, a trade printing sister company in the same building.

The company operated four Mitsubishi presses out of its sheetfed press division and a full-size, 6-unit Mitsubishi press out of its web press division.

KingsWeb claimed it was the only 6-colour Mitsubishi full web press in North America and one of the few in the world able to print stochastic on a web press through a thermally stabilized, computer-controlled process.

German press manufacturer manroland AG is currently negotiating to purchase WIFAG AG, a Germany-based technology and services company that specializes in the newspaper printing market.

manroland, which also holds a strong, global market-share position in the newspaper market, has signed a letter of intent for the purchase. Negotiations are expectd to be finalized this spring.

“Our industry is marked by an ongoing and necessary consolidation. The current situation allows us to actively grasp the opportunities in the market to strengthen our business,” says Gerd Finkbeiner, CEO of manroland.

Last fall, WIFAG AG announced the reduction of 300 jobs and the search for a strategic business partner.

David Shea, Chairman and CEO of Bowne, late yesterday announced an agreement that would see Chicago-based R.R. Donnelley & Sons purchase New York-based Bowne & Co. for approximately US$481 million in cash.

Shea, 53, first joined Bowne during that company’s 1998 acquisition of Donnelley Enterprise Solutions Inc. He was named as Bowne’s Chairman and CEO in 2006. In a joint statement about the pending RRD acquisition, Shea stated, "R.R. Donnelley's broader array of products and services will quickly create expanded opportunities for Bowne's customers and employees.” 

Bowne primarily operates in various financial-services sectors around the world, with 50 global offices and 2,800 employees. In Canada, Bowne has locations in Calgary, Montréal, Saint-Laurent, Toronto and Vancouver.

“Bowne is an exceptional fit with RR Donnelley," stated Thomas Quinlan, RR Donnelley's CEO. "This combination satisfies all of the strategic imperatives that we evaluate as we consider acquisitions.” 

News of the acquisition, approved by the boards of both companies at US$11.50 per share, came late yesterday as R.R. Donnelley announced its fourth-quarter results, including a net loss of US$79.5 million relative to the year-ago quarter. The company also reported a full-year cash flow from operations of US$1.4 billion. Bowne generated revenues of approximately US$675 million during 2009.

Both R.R. Donnelley and Bowne are two of the more historic printing companies operating in North America, at 145 years of age and 253 years of age, respectively.

Action Comics #1, one of the rarest comic books in existence, has fetched the record US$1 million at auction, which more than doubles the previous record for a comic book.

Issue #1 of Action Comics marks the first appearance of Superman, and was first published in April 1938 (as a June issue) for a cover price of 10 cents. The auction was conducted by online company ComicConnect.com, which was sold to an anonymous New York-based buyer just one minute after the auction was posted.

The issue in question was graded by an independent firm called CGC, which gave the book a rank of 8.0 out of a possible score of 10. Even minor imperfections, damage, or even restoration efforts can drastically lower a value of a vintage comic book.

Superman was created by American Jerry Siegel and Canadian Joe Shuster. It is estimated that only 100 copies of the original run of Action Comics #1 remain today (there have been numerous reprints), and few can be categorized as 8.0 (very fine) or higher.

CNN Money: Superman comic sells for record $1 million

HP’s financial results for its first fiscal quarter (ended January 31), included a 4% revenue increase in its Imaging and Printing Group, relative to the year-ago quarter. Company-wide first quarter net revenues increased by 8%, reaching US$31.2 billion.

"HP is well-positioned to outperform the market," stated Mark Hurd, HP CEO, in a press release. "The strength of our portfolio, leaner cost structure and accelerating market momentum give us the confidence to raise our full-year outlook."

First quarter revenue was up 9% in the Americas to US$13.6 billion. Revenue was up 1% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 26% in Asia Pacific to US$12.1 billion and US$5.4 billion, respectively. Revenue from outside of the United States in the first quarter accounted for 65% of total HP revenue, with revenue in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) increasing 41% over the prior-year period while accounting for 10% of total HP revenue.

The company’s first quarter of 2010 received a boost from its Enterprise Storage and Servers division, which reported total revenue of US$4.4 billion, up 11%.

Within the Imaging and Printing Group, “Supplies” revenue was up 1%, while commercial and consumer hardware revenue increased 4% and 21%, respectively. Printer unit shipments increased 16%, with commercial printer hardware units up 11% and consumer printer hardware units up 18%. 

Cober Printing Ltd. finalized a deal to take on the sales staff and clients of Kitchener-based Allprint Ainsworth Associates, which filed for bankruptcy protection on February 5.

“We are in the process of transitioning all the sales staff and clients over to us, as well as any production people needed to support those sales,” says Peter Cober, President of  Cober Printing, which is also located in Kitchener. “We have met with all of the salespeople and they are on board, and the clients also seem to be quite comfortable with it.

“The rest of my day will be spent focusing on the company’s CSRs and estimators and support staff,” continues Cober, who expects to complete these arrangements sometime next week. Work from Allprint is already starting to filter into the Cober Printing facility.

Cober says he is currently not pursuing any of the hard assets from Allprint Ainsworth, which includes three older 40-inch Heidelberg perfecting presses, as well as a 29-inch Heidelberg perfector and an HP Indigo 5000. While Cober Printing also runs Heidelberg perfecting presses, including a 40-inch 10-colour and a 40-inch 5-colour, Allprint’s offset machines are of an older generation.  

Cober Printing has long been recognized as one of Canada’s most technologically innovative commercial printing companies. The company currently runs three HP Indigo presses, including a recently purchased 7000 model.

“We have a lot of expertise with Web-to-print applications and digital storefronts, in-house mailing and very sophisticated distribution and fulfillment, with RFID and barcodes, for example,” says Cober. “So we think we have the opportunity to do a fair bit of up-selling with [Allprint’s] existing sheetfed clients – to get more dollars out of them.”

While Allprint has filed for bankruptcy protection, the company is more than likely headed for receivership. Company owner, Klaus Ertle, said he was retiring last Friday, February 12, as the 50,000-square-foot Allprint facility ceased operations.

If Allprint Ainsworth does enter receivership, its presses and hard assets would be then auctioned off.

Read PrintAction's February 16 story: Allprint Ainsworth Enters Bankruptcy Protection


Allprint Ainsworth Associates, a 34-year-old commercial printing company based in Kitchener, Ontario, filed for bankruptcy protection with company owner, Klaus Ertle, subsequently announcing his retirement.

After being contacted about the company’s pending closure or restructuring, printing-industry veteran Ertle responded via email that he is retired as of February 12, 2010.

On February 12, The Record news organization, based in Kitchener, published a story that Allprint Ainsworth had filed a notice of intention under Canada's Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

According to The Record, the bankruptcy protection notice was filed on February 5, with Toronto-based Farber & Partners Inc. being appointed as trustee in the case.

Klaus Ertle served as production manager at Ainsworth Press prior to founding his own company, Allprint, in 1976. Allprint acquired shares of Ainsworth Group from Southam Inc. in 1993 and then consolidated the two printing firms. The company employs around 80 people within a 50,000-square-foot plant.

Read The Record Article

Flint Group today signed an agreement to acquire Torda, a manufacturer of printing inks for packaging markets in Northern and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. In 2009, Torda generated revenues of approximately €23 million.

According to Flint, this acquisition represents the company’s third step taken in the past 12 months to expand into Eastern European markets. In 2009, Flint Group acquired the Russian packaging ink manufacturer and distributor Premo Inks. In January 2010, Flint Group announced the expansion to its packaging inks operation in Poland.

“We are delighted about the agreement with Torda. The company’s business model and performance is an excellent fit for our strategy,” stated Dr. Dirk Aulbert, President of Flint Group’s Packaging and Narrow Web division, in a press release. “Torda’s setup, especially in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East, ideally complements and expands our network of manufacturing and service facilities into these growth markets.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of March 2010.

Photo by Paul OrensteinFrançois Olivier, President and CEO of Montreal-based Transcontinental Inc., announced today that Canada’s largest printing company has signed an agreement to sell its U.S.-based direct-mail operations to IWCO Direct of Minnesota.

The agreement, with an undisclosed price tag, includes substantially all of the assets of Transcontinental's U.S. direct-mail group in Fort Worth, Texas; Downey, California; and Warminster and Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Transcontinental expects to close the sale by the end of its second quarter.

Transcontinental's direct-mail group in the United States generated revenues of US$153 million in 2009 and employs about 1,200 people. "Transcontinental has decided to focus on its other market segments," stated François Olivier, in a press release. "The sale of our U.S. high-volume direct mail operations will benefit customers, employees and the industry." 

IWCO Direct employs more than 1,200 people and lists the following regional sales locations in the United States: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Naples (Florida), New York. Philadelphia, Richmond (Virginia), San Francisco, and St. Louis.

"This [acquisition] provides a robust national total package footprint for our customers seeking innovative and cost-effective programs for customer acquisition, loyalty and engagement programs anchored by powerful strategy development," said Jim Andersen, IWCO Direct President and CEO.

Xerox Corp. becomes a US$22-billion technology giant after finalizing the US$6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, self-described as the largest diversified business process outsourcing (BPO) firm in the world.

On an annual basis, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), for example, processes over 1-million credit card applications and 12-million student loans, while also providing human-resource services for more than 4.4-million employees and retirees.

With the deal completed yesterday, Xerox now cliams itself as a US$22-billion technology and services company for business process and document management – a US$500-billion market, according to the company. Xerox ranked 147th on last year’s Fortune 500 list, with annual revenues of US$17.6, produced by Fortune magazine.

“For the past 50 years, Xerox has fortified its leadership in document management, creating new markets through our renowned innovation,” stated Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, in a press release, while also referring to the company as the new Xerox – “With ACS, we take another step forward.”

ACS will initially be branded ACS, A Xerox Company.  It will continue to be led by CEO Lynn Blodgett, who has been elected by the Xerox Board of Directors as an executive VP for the parent company – reporting directly to Burns.

“The breadth of ACS’ offerings – from HR benefits management and IT support to automated toll collection and electronic health records – is a significant competitive advantage and one we will continue to leverage through investments, innovation and global expansion,” stated Burns.

The Globe and Mail has announced special Olympic coverage taking the form of a Sunday edition in the Vancouver region. During those weeks, the paper will become the only 7-day daily in the province.

"The Olympic Winter Games will be an historic moment for Canada and also for The Globe and Mail as we publish a Sunday edition for the first time in our history," said Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail.

The paper will also boost its staff at its B.C. bureau from 16 to more than 50 during the games. The Globe and Mail is the official national newspaper supplier for the Olympic games and is owned by CTVglobemedia, which also owns CTV, the official Canadian network for the Games in Vancouver.

Torstar, meanwhile, will be offering The Toronto Star free at all newsstands and vending machines for the duration of the Winter Olympic Games, until March 1 and while supplies last. The campaign was announced across various media outlets including CFRB and 680 News in Toronto this week.

UPDATED Feb. 11: Twenty-six hours before the first event of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, George Kallas, President of Vancouver-based Metropolitan Fine Printers, carried the flame through Burnaby toward opening ceremonies at BC Place.

While ski jumping qualification is scheduled to begin this Friday at 1:00 pm, the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympics is set for a few hours later at 9:00 pm (EST). Organizers have not yet named who will officially light the Olympic flame in the stadium, with speculation centering on Wayne Gretzky, Rick Hanson, or family members of Terry Fox. 

George Kallas has been a major part of the Vancouver Olympics initiative for several years now, beginning with Metropolitan’s printing of the official Vancouver bid book back in 2004. In October 2009, Kallas traveled to his birth country of Greece, as part of the Governor General of Canada’s delegation, for the official flame handover at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

A few days later, the Olympic flame arrived in Canada and began the longest domestic Torch Relay in Olympic history, reaching 1,030 communities on a 106-day journey across the country – 45,000 kilometres. A total of over 12,000 torchbearers will have participated by the time the flame reaches its destination.

Kallas – torchbearer number OTR105-092 – will start his Thursday 11:00 am run at 6875 Aubrey Street in Burnaby and carry the flame along Sperling Street, ending at Charles Street.

The torch’s progress can be followed live on CTV’s Website.

UPDATE: Photo of Kallas bearing the torch, courtesy of CTV's web video feed:

The Guardian newspaper of Prince Edward Island reports that Kwik Kopy Design and Print Centre of Charlottetown has acquired Island Offset Inc.

According to the newspaper article, Kwik Kopy Design and Print Centre is operated by brothers Shawn and Troy MacKenzie.

The Kwik Kopy Design and Print Centre has been in business since 1984, according to the paper, and currently employs 30 full-time staff.

Read the article from The Guardian

Contac Services Inc., founded in 1978 as a third-party logistics company for the travel industry, has purchased the assets of Forum Productions Inc., a commercial printer based in Delta, British Columbia.

Contac, based in Vancouver, lists the following service entities within its business: Contac Print, Marketing, Logistics and Travel.

According to a press release about the deal, Contac is picking up 39 pieces of equipment from Forum, including: a 6-colour, 40-inch press; a 4-colour, 29-inch UV hybrid press; and a die-cutter/foiler.

With the added capacity and technology, Contac claims it now has one of the leading printing facilities in Canada, as it can now increase daily print output to more than 1.6-million sheets per 8-hour shift on offset presses.

“With a powerful and innovative print production facility, Contac has both the equipment and experience necessary to handle complex print projects,” stated Garry Gunter, Contac’s General Manager of Print Operations, in the press release. “The acquisition of Forum’s printing equipment was exactly in line with our growth goals for 2010.”

Forum’s client list included such companies as Canada Post, the City of Vancouver, Tourism Richmond, Tourism Vancouver Island, Boston Pizza, Direct Buy, Canadian Cancer Society, and Vancouver Community College.

Contac, a privately held company, also lists facilities in Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Europe and Asia.

Goss International announced it has integrated Akiyama's North American operations within its own U.S. operations. As a result, Goss will sell and support Akiyama products in both Canada and the United States.

Under the agreement, several members of the Akiyama sales and service team in North America have joined the Goss International organization. Goss International’s large-scale U.S. parts and service operation now supports printing companies operating more than 800 Akiyama presses in North America. Independent dealers will continue to market Akiyama products in some regions of the United States and Canada, working collaboratively through Goss International.

Both companies are affiliated with Shanghai Electric Corporation, with Akiyama being controlled by the Chinese company. Shanghai Electric became Goss' second-largest shareholder in June 2009.

"Our North American infrastructure provides a substantial platform to support existing customers as well as a growth strategy for Akiyama products in the region,” said Goss International president and CEO Jochen Meissner. “The Jprint presses in particular, with their innovative perfecting technology, offer a compelling alternative to traditional four-over-four sheetfed perfectors.”

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