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Debt-laden printer accentuates the positive with new MPA partnership

The double whammee of the recession and the digital revolution means it’s been a pretty tough time in the print industry of late. Geon was bailed out by its bankers not long ago, Benefitz has shifted its focus away from the dwindling offset printing market and the troubled Blue Star Group recently agreed upon a capital restructuring in an effort to trade its way out of $300 million worth of trouble. But Webstar, the specialist web printing division of Blue Star Group New Zealand—and the latest entrant to the local magazine printing sector—is still optimistic and has signed up as a strategic business partner of the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA). 

Webstar’s new west Auckland facility currently employs 40 people, and expects to create more than 50 new full-time positions over time (although Blue Star’s New Zealand chief executive David Jupe said at a bondholders meeting a couple of months ago that 190 people had been trimmed across the group over the past three years). At the same meeting, Blue Star chief executive Chris Mitchell said investing in web-based design technology and winning the lucrative ACP Media contract meant the company was in much better shape than its competitors, namely Geon.

“Our newest Auckland printing facility is already producing high-quality ACP Media magazines, such as Woman’s Day, Metro, Next and Fashion Quarterly,” says Bernie Roberts, general manager of Webstar New Zealand. “The partnership with MPA will help us further build and maintain a more effective magazine and print promotion strategy.”

In tandem with the latest binding technology, Webstar is also developing a broader fulfillment option for its clients with the intent to offer both mailing services and an increased range of inserts, onserts and special options by the end of this year.

“The equipment we have purchased offers high levels of automation, besides speed and efficiency. Coupled with Webstar’s new association with MPA, this will help us to set new industry benchmarks in magazine printing,” he says.

Kath Hurley, MPA marketing & communications manager, says Webstar’s support is a boost to promoting the interests, standards and development of New Zealand’s robust and ever diversifying magazine publishing industry.

“One goal of the partnership is to increase reader subscriptions through consumer and trade promotions and education about the strengths of printed publications,” Hurley says. “With Webstar’s support MPA is also looking to build the capabilities of all magazine industry employees to strengthen market share and position.”

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