It is a year to the day since Worldwide Online called in administrators McGrath Nicol on 25 February 2010.
Franchisees and Worldwide head office have told ProPrint of an extreme turnaround in culture, service and management since the business was acquired by a group led by WA-based Crystal Printing.
Crystal Printing previously operated from the same major printing hub as Worldwide and is now its preferred supplier.
Worldwide Online’s managing director, Rob Dallimore, would not comment to ProPrint, but the word from head office was: “The business is now far leaner, but more proactive towards franchise owners and improving their businesses.”
Franchisees told ProPrint they had seen a big change from the days of the old regime, when they often found themselves knocking on head office’s door with little response.
Kirsten Williams, manager of the Chatswood store and a long-standing member of North Sydney franchise, said the short-term improvement was “pretty phenomenal”.
“Before we never felt like a priority. Now the service is changed, the turnaround times have improved and the accuracy of the factory has improved,” she said.
Williams noted that the quality of offset work from the Perth hub had improved dramatically since Crystal Printing took over.
“They are moving to all ISO-approved machinery and we have not sent one job back or had a reprint,” she said.
“Before the takeover the factory’s service was irregular, certainly much slower with turnaround and if a job was printed wrong, we really had to fight to get a credit and get it fixed.”
Wayne Mackay, who owns a number of franchises in Queensland, pointed to the print credentials as the reason for the positive turnaround.
“They are really speeding things up. We are getting better marketing material, and the owners are actually listening to the group,” he said.
“Before they were a bunch of capitalists who didn’t understand the industry, but because these guys have worked in print they are more understanding. They know the pain and the heartache.”
The owner of South Australian franchise, who asked not to be named, said he was “very happy” with the improved support from head office and the “franchise focus”.
Head office was reluctant to give specific figures but said: “Sales have remained steady over the past year, and as far as the franchisor is concerned, we are continuing to perform above our expectations.”
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