Bob Lockley is retiring at the end of the month, ending his stint as Fairfax Media’s group director of print and distribution.
As one of the biggest figures in Australian print Lockley has overseen and directed Fairfax during the most tumultuous period in its history with the GFC and internet resulting in its newspapers seeing sales crumble, leading to the controversial but successful move out of Tullamarine and Chullora to existing regional print sites.
Commenting on his career Lockley says, “I have been able to help build up the industry, grow our commercial business on the back of our mastheads and seen innovations with technology.”
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Lockley began at Cumberland Newspapers in Parramatta, Western Sydney where he spent 18 years progressing from compositor to production manager. He then joined Rural Press in Windsor as general manager of printing in 1984, staying until the company merged with Fairfax in 2007.
Following the merger, Lockley became CEO of printing at Fairfax, leading the restructuring of the company’s printing model.
In 2015, he oversaw changes, including the transfer of print production within NSW and Victoria which would save the publisher 60 per cent of total print costs. The major Melbourne and Sydney broadsheets were switched to tabloids and printing was transferred from Tullamarine to Ballarat in Victoria and Chullora to North Richmond in New South Wales.
Lockley also rationalised the Fairfax NZ print sites, upgrading and changing structures.
[Related: Fairfax ad revenue drops]
Lockley says, “Rationalising printing plants in Australia and New Zealand was big for me. There were also moves in the industry such as hot to cold metals and the introduction of automation. The most significant change I saw was computer to print. Rationalisation of the industry will be the next biggest change.
“I spent decades building up the print business, and then the global financial crisis hit and the digital evolution came along. It is now going to be about rationalising rather than building up.”
Lockley has also been active in industry bodies relating to print, leading the Single Width User Group (SWUG) since 1990 acting as a board member of the Australian Catalogue Association, the Pressgang Committee and Environmental Advisory Group.
Lockley says, “I am looking forward to getting fit and stay involved within the industry, whether it’s with SWUG or other associations. I’m also going to spend more time with the grandkids and seeing life outside of work.”
About the future of print, Lockley says, “It is interesting and always changing, but difficult to predict. It’s definitely hard to know.”
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