Active Display CEO departs

Active Display Group CEO Deane Hubball has left the company following the loss of the board’s confidence, while a number of additional staff across sites have been made redundant.


Australian Printer has seen an internal staff memo detailing a list of challenges and changes at the business, which lays out plans for decommissioning all of the company’s screenprinting, screenmaking and screen washing equipment, vacating its Chelsea Heights warehouse, and relocating the entire Boxlink business.


The redundancies include four sale staff across Victoria, Queensland, Dandenong South, and within its Assembly business, while another staff member within a probation period will not be kept on by the company, and departed yesterday.


The memo, which is signed by now-acting CEO David Gittus, says the business has not kept pace with the rate of change in the market, and that Active’s profit has fallen significantly.


It notes, “We have kept the number of redundancies small by focusing recently on not replacing and restructuring around employees who have resigned over the past few months.


“It has become increasingly clear to our owners WPP AUNZ and to the Active Display Group board of directors that we need to significantly and more quickly transform the Active business into one that can get back to its former levels of profitability in this new commercial environment – because it is here to stay.


“WPP AUNZ and the Active Board were not confident that Deane had the strategies and plans in place needed to transform the business, and not within the timeframe that is needed.


“For now the plans to move everything into a single site have been shelved in favour of a less disruptive option to consolidate down to three Melbourne sites.”


The memo details that traditional large customers have reduced orders throughout 2018, while customers shopping around for better prices have put pressure on the company to do the same work for less – a common problem within the industry.


A spokesperson from parent company WPP AUNZ says, “WPP AUNZ can confirm that CEO of Active Display Group, Deane Hubball has left the business.


“We can also confirm that a small number of staff have also left the business, however out of respect for those involved we will be making no further comment.

“While a search for a new CEO is underway, executive chairman, David Gittus will step into the role as interim CEO. Gittus was a director and CEO of Active Display Group for over 25 years and has remained closely involved with the business in his role as executive chairman.


“An announcement about a new CEO will be made in due course.”


The memo notes that the company is holding information sessions with employees both today and tomorrow to outline the changes.

Active has made major investments this year, primarily across its flatbed and robot Inca Onset UV printing setup, supplied by Fujifilm. The Onset X3 and Onset X1 both have an ABB robot to taking printed sheets off the bed and stacking them, and were launched at a customer event in April. The memo notes that the new printers are now faster and less costly to run than screenprint, contributing to the decommissioning of equipment.

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