The industry’s peak association PIAA saw a financial loss in 2017 of $1.4m, some 10 per cent more than the 2016 loss of $1.27m, as membership hit a new low of 621, with less than 500 of those paying members.
However some 40 per cent of the loss was due to a $571,000 downgrade in land and buildings valuations, the actual operating loss was $831,000, meaning the loss was down by a third. On the other hand Other revenue rose by $445,000 to $690,000, from $246,000, most of this would have come from PacPrint, which is only once every four years.
Andrew Macaulay, CEO of the association says, “We are heading towards breaking even right now. We can see the last of the significant structural changes which needed to be made. The PIAA is getting up, fitter, leaner and better.”
Last time PIAA ran a surplus was 2015, but this was due to the $1m raised from the sale of assets, which contributed to a $385,000 overall surplus. The balance in 2014 was a small deficit of $46,000. The losses since then have been sustained from the sale of the Auburn national headquarters, which raised around $4m.
The association ended 2017 with $2.1m in current assets, down from $3m the previous year. It has $5.57m in non-current assets, down from $6.2m in 2016. Liabilities were down by $100,000 to $570,000. Closing balance for the year showed total equity of $7.15m.
Member subscriptions in 2017 shrank by a third to $1.3m from $1.7m in line with the declining numbers of print businesses now in the association. Revenue overall rose to $2.27m from $2.1m.
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Staff costs were down by ten per cent to $1.97m in 2017, and by the end of that year staff numbers stood at just seven full time employees. Administration costs were down by 20 per cent at $800,000. Total expenses were down by 12 per cent at $3.1m from $3.5m.
Macaulay says, “We have reduced the operating loss from the year prior. We have gone from nearly 40 staff to 25 staff when I started, to six staff today. So there is a structural cost and change in that. Revaluations had to be made on assets, as they were not valued as they should have been.”
Paying member numbers are now 482, who between them contributed some $1.3m, compared with $2.2m five years prior. Walter Kuhn, PIAA president says, “There has been a numbers of things affecting membership numbers, including the rationalisation of the industry. Fergies in Queensland for argument’s sake is gone now. Companies have bought other companies, while some have closed.
“There has also been a lot of smaller members and companies falling away from the association due to issues in the previous year, around a public disagreement within in the board. Instead of being discussed and managed internally in the board, it was taken to the media, which was not healthy in the industry. A lot of people thought that was not correct.”
There are estimated to be around 3000-4000 commercial print business in the country, including the 500 franchise stores, with the vast majority of those not in the PIAA being the smaller operators.
The PIAA has also outsourced some of its industrial relations work, which Macaulay says will save it money moving forward, while providing more value.
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He says, “We have reduced the delivery costs of the industrial relations service, while broadening the services offered. We went from four directly employed staff to eight full time equivalent contracted staff.
The financial statement for the year reveal staff bonuses were up from $29,000 to $127,000, but Macaulay says this was due to new salary structures where KPIs were introduced and has not impacted the actual wage bill. Staff salaries were down by $90,000 to $718,000.
Kuhn is optimistic for the future, he says, “We believe that the membership base now is solid moving forward, with a good strong membership, and the members are saying they are coming back.
“The industry has gone through a massive change, as an association we need to change as well, otherwise we will not be here. It is costly to make the change if it is not done on an incremental basis. The association did not change for a long time.”
“I believe the work we are doing now is winning back the trust of members. They acknowledge and appreciate it.
“I would like to see it return to surplus. It is based on membership, it is based on what the members want. They could pull out and get the organisation to fold. Or they could back it, commit themselves and ensure it becomes profitable.”
The PIAA spent $1257 on subscriptions to a number of think-tanks during the year including The Federal Forum, The Centre for Independent Studies, The Sydney Institute, and The Institute of Public Affairs, all of which could fairly be described as associated with and or representing views on the right of the Liberal Party.
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