Stream, Geon, Salmat and PMP join in offshore debate at ProPrint roundtable

At a roundtable event in Sydney on Wednesday morning, senior printers, print managers and buyers from Geon, Salmat, Stream Solutions, PMP, PMA Solutions, Caxton Web, the University of Sydney, Bright Print Group and E-Bisprint dissected the offshore issue.

Geoff Selig, chairman of Caxton Web and former Blue Star chief executive, said that the issue was nothing new.

“Overseas print has been here for years and years. It’s part of the market. But it’s highly emotive, and more so at the moment because the economy has been tight and print that was produced has completely disappeared.”

But while Selig didn’t think it was top of the list of threats to the industry, print jobs of all shapes and sizes could disappear offshore.

“I don’t think it needs to be millions of dollars worth of print. If they’ve got the time, even on a reasonably small job, there are savings on the surface,” said Selig.

“Putting aside the risk factor, the question is to what extent do people build in the cost of insurance, the issue around sea or air freight, the issues in terms of people and time, managing the process and the soft costs?”

There was consensus among most of the attendees that printers could protect themselves from jobs disappearing offshore by diversifying their offering outside print production.

Bright Print director Debbie Burgess said: “It’s really about trying to align ourselves in the value chain and become more of a knowledge offering as opposed to just a straight-out manufacturer.

“I think we need to recognise that very quickly, otherwise we’re all going to go the way of the dodo if we don’t position ourselves [correctly] and look at our value propositions,” she added.

However, Burgess conceded that unlike for big print groups, making that transition was not necessarily easy for an SME player.

“We also have to be very mindful that a lot of the work that would normally have come to us over the years is being leapfrogged directly because perhaps we don’t have the end-to-end offering that somebody like Stream or Geon might have with all the other diversified products they can offer clients.

“We [printers] were and are still essentially manufacturers, so until we can get out of that space and become [something more] to clients, the threat is very real,” she said.

Phil Okill, managing director of PMA Solutions, which sources a range of print and non-print items offshore, said “instead of worrying about it”, printers should “start sourcing offshore themselves”.

“I think if printers spent as much time concentrating on their business processes, offering better services and streamlining their operations as they do worrying about what’s coming in from offshore, they’d be a lot more profitable,” said Okill.

“Because really the issue is a beat-up and as soon as the industry itself understands that [the better because] this isn’t going away because clients are going to go offshore directly themselves,” he added.

Stream general manager Andrew Price said that it wasn’t just buyers or print managers looking offshore, but printers themselves.

“I’m guessing probably more than 50% of print that comes in from Asia comes from printers outsourcing to Asia,” said Price.

University of Sydney print buyer Judy Berghan said: “From a client viewpoint, you can’t underestimate the emphasis that’s put on me to give greater value back to the university. So I’m looking for people who want to give me that greater value and if offshore is part of your product base, then that’s fantastic.”

Comprehensive coverage of the ProPrint roundtable will appear in the November issue of ProPrint.

Who was there?
• Judy Berghan, manager, University Publishing Service, University of Sydney
• Debbie Burgess, director, Bright Print Group
• Nick Debenham, chief executive, Business Process Outsourcing, Salmat
• Paul Freeman, managing director, E-Bisprint
• Steven Maidens, general manager, Publishing & Directories, PMP
• Tony Onsley, executive general manager for strategy and growth, Geon
• Phil Okill, managing director, PMA Solutions
• Andrew Price, general manager, Stream Solutions
• Geoff Selig, executive chairman, Caxton Web

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.