Sappi Fine Paper North America today announced the approval for its $2.5 million capital project to re-build a specialty paper coater at its Westbrook Mill in Westbrook, Maine.
According to Sappi, the project involves an upgrade in the web handling, coating and drying capabilities of #20 coater, which will result in expanded manufacturing capacity, allow for use of a wider range of raw materials and improve energy efficiency.
"This is tremendous news for Westbrook Mill," said Donna Cassese, Managing Director, Westbrook Mill, SFPNA. "Over the past few years, we have made significant gains in safety, yield, equipment reliability, and productivity; all of which have strengthened our market position globally. These accomplishments helped set the stage for the decision to invest in our Classics line."
The Westbrook Mill makes specialized release papers. The Classics line is used to provide the textures and patterns for synthetic fabrics used in automobiles, fashionable footwear and apparel as well as decorative laminate surfaces found in flooring, kitchens, and baths, Sappi said.
There are some disturbing rumors about some items that appeared in the USPS’s Annual Compliance Report (ACR), which was filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission on December 28th. In the report, the USPS issued a formal response to the PRC’s 2010 ruling that the Standard Flats (SF) product is “underwater” and its rate must be increased until it covers its costs:
•There’s still plenty of work that needs to be done on SF cost containment; work executed by the USPS with guidance from advocacy groups, such as ACMA. Automation is supposed to provide much cost relief, but FSS success remains an open item. In any case, we believe there is evidence of excess capacity and that operations need tightening.
•Until (or unless) SF costs are reduced and SF covers its costs, the USPS proposed in this year’s ACR a provisional annual increase for SF, to begin next year and run for three straight years to 2016. The rate is CPI times 1.05 or 5% above the average for all other mailers, assuming the entire CPI cap is used. For instance, if the cap is 3%, this means that the average increase for SF would be 1.05 x 3% = 3.15%.
•The USPS points out that any proposed rate schedule is speculative, because it relies on “numerous assumptions” typically based on anticipated market conditions at the time of such potential rate hikes. The USPS Board of Governors will evaluate market conditions and business strategy concerns each year. (In other words, we read this as a rough statement of intent – and only for right now.)
The USPS’s 2012 ACR contained the aforementioned SF rate increases only to comply with an order from the PRC that came five months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on the appeals case, United States Postal Service v. Postal Regulatory Commission. This was the case in which the USPS challenged the PRC’s right to make its order for SF rate increases in the Commission’s 2010 ACD. (ACMA submi tted briefs in that case supporting the USPS’s argument.)
While it is tempting to squeal like a stuck pig over this, we should also remember that there are many others calling for a much larger rate of increase, including some who actually make policy decisions. Personally, we feel the USPS tried to strike a middle ground between what catalogs could handle and the amount required to be responsive to PRC concerns.
Oil rose to its highest level in almost three months in London amid signs of growth in China, the world’s second-largest fuel consumer, and as Saudi Arabia, the biggest crude exporter, reduced supplies.
Brent futures advanced as much as 1.4 percent to the highest since Oct. 18 after China’s customs agency reported overseas sales jumped 14 percent in December from a year earlier, exceeding the 5 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. The nation imported 271 million metric tons of crude last year, 6.8 percent more than in 2011, according to the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs. Saudi Arabia reduced its crude production in December to a 19-month low, said a Gulf official with knowledge of the kingdom’s energy policy.
“The Chinese data is allaying concerns of a hard landing,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London, who predicts Brent crude may advance to $115 a barrel this month. “Saudi Arabia will need to rein in output this year after making up for outages in 2012, and the latest numbers suggest they’re doing this.”
Brent for February settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange rose as much as $1.53 to $113.29 a barrel. It was at $112.95 as of 11:54 a.m. local time.
Research company Warc has downgraded its global ad spending forecast to 4.0% growth this year, down from an August forecast of 4.9% growth. It cited continued uncertainty about the global economy in making its revision.
Next year, global ad spending will increase 5.5%, Warc projects.
The fastest-growing advertising medium this year will be online, with spending surging 13.8%. All other media will show modest growth to declining spending, including cinema (up 3.8%), TV (up 3.2%), out-of-home (up 2.9%), radio (up 2.0%), magazines (down 2.5%) and newspapers (down 2.7%).
The countries showing the most growth in ad spending this year will be Russia (up 12.3%), China (up 10.9%), Brazil (up 9.8%) and India (up 8.5%), Warc said. Ad spending in the U.S is expected to be up only 2.2% this year.
The Burgo Group plant in Verzuolo (Cuneo) has obtained its EMAS registration from the Ecolabel and Ecoaudit board of the Italian Department for the Environment.
This is a very important result for this paper mill where the Group was founded more than a century ago.
On October 22nd, 2012, during renewal of the EMAS registration for the Company’s plants in Toscolano Maderno (Brescia) and Mantova, it was decided to extend the same certification to the Verzuolo site; the ruling is valid for all the facilities until April 22nd, 2015.
EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is a system that companies and organisations sign up to voluntarily, undertaking to monitor and improve their environmental efficiency, and providing the control authority and local population a tool to assess their environmental impact.
Urban Outfitters, Inc., a leading lifestyle specialty retail company operating under the Anthropologie, BHLDN, Free People, Terrain and Urban Outfitters brands, today announced record net sales for the two months ended December 31, 2012.
Total Company net sales for the two months increased to $666 million or 15% over the same period last year. Comparable retail segment net sales, which include our comparable direct-to-consumer channel, increased 9% while comparable store net sales decreased by 1%. Direct-to-consumer returns at stores are charged against store sales. Excluding these returns comparable store net sales would have been low single-digit positive. Comparable retail segment net sales increased 33% at Free People, 10% at Urban Outfitters and 5% at Anthropologie. Direct-to-consumer net sales increased by 38% for the period and wholesale segment net sales increased 21%.
"We are pleased to announce a 15% increase in our Holiday sales, driven by strength in all brands," said Richard A. Hayne, Chief Executive Officer. "I am proud of the teams' execution as they delivered better product with more disciplined inventory management leading to improvement in regular price sales."
For the 11-month period ended December 31, 2012, total Company net sales increased to $2.6 billion or 12% over the same period last year. Comparable retail segment net sales increased 6% while comparable store net sales decreased by 1%. Direct-to-consumer net sales increased by 29% for the period and wholesale segment net sales increased 11%.
During the 11 months ended December 31, 2012, the Company opened a total of 46 new stores including: 15 Free People stores, 16 Urban Outfitters stores, 13 Anthropologie stores, 1 BHLDN store and 1 Terrain garden center, and closed 1 Anthropologie store.
The following open letter has been sent to Eric Schmidt of Google and highlights Two Sides’ concerns that Google and others are trying to promote their services as environmentally preferable to print and paper when there is significant evidence that electronic communication, and Google’s activities in particular, carry a significant and increasing environmental footprint.
Mr. Eric Schmidt
Chairman of the Board and CEO
Mountain View, CA 94043
Dear Mr Schmidt,
We read with some incredulity the news of Google’s encouragement to consumers to “Go Paperless in 2013.” This initiative is accompanied by pictures of trees and U.S. recycling data that presumably is intended to highlight the environmental benefits that will arise from “going paperless.”
Google is joined in the project by U.S. based organizations HelloFax, an online fax service; Manilla, an online bill management service; HelloSign, an e-signature service; Expensify, an online expense reporting service; Xero, an online business accounting service; and Fujitsu, which makes the ScanSnap scanner.
While the products and services delivered by Google are to be admired, this new initiative is clearly another example of a self-interested organization using an environmentally focused marketing campaign to promote its services while ignoring its own impact upon the environment.
Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc., a leading mid-west retail grocer with more than 150 stores has renewed their contract with Grandville Printing Company (GPC) to digitally print in-store shelf tags, price signs and posters every week.
Roundy's utilizes GPC's Nexgen™ program where shelf edge tags and price signs are delivered bursted and boxed in plan-o-gram order by aisle for each individual store.
Roundy's started working with GPC in April 2010 by piloting the Nexgen™ program in four (4) of its stores. During that time, Roundy's partnered with GPC's creative and technology team to take full advantage of the Nexgen™ "just-in-time" four-color variable data print engine capability. "Roundy's continues to expand the use of our program and we look forward to meeting their needs in the future," said Chris Nunez , Director of Digital Printing for GPC. Roundy's tags are now centrally printed using HP Indigo™ digital presses, cut and packaged in plan-o-gram order, boxed and delivered every week for delivery to the stores. In addition to the hours of store's weekly labor savings, Roundy's pricing and marketing departments now have the ability to make changes faster and benefit from relevant messaging to consumers at the shelf.
Oil halted a two-day advance in London amid signs of rising inventories in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude-consuming nation.
Brent futures were little changed after adding 0.5 percent yesterday. U.S. crude supplies increased 2.4 million barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute. An Energy Department report today may show inventories rose 2 million barrels, a Bloomberg News survey of 11 analysts showed. Gasoline and distillate stockpiles also climbed, the API said.
“Inventories will likely rise in the spring,” said Andy Sommer, a senior oil analyst at Axpo Trading AG in Dietikon, Switzerland, who predicts Brent will remain at about $110 this month. “Supply and demand in the market are pretty much balanced, with a slight deficit, but that is a normal seasonal pattern. We see downside risk once we come into the spring.”
Brent for February settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange slipped 19 cents to $111.75 a barrel as of 12:10 p.m. local time.
Norske Skog has confirmed that around 110 staff at its mill in Kawerau will be made redundant, following the closure of one of its paper machines at the plant today.
The redundancies will become effective over the next three to four months.
They were signalled in September when Norske Skog said it would halve production at the mill partly due to falling demand for newsprint.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union delegate Bruce Habgood said the machine would be closed down by 6am this morning.
''It's been an unpleasant situation for everyone... but it's been dealt with as professionally as possible.''
He knew of several affected staff who had found new jobs. ''But unfortunately, given how depressed the eastern Bay of Plenty is, let alone the Bay of Plenty as a whole, there's going to be a quite a few people who have no jobs to go to.''
A Norske Skog spokesman said a significant number of staff affected by the machine closure had been redeployed at the mill.
The company had offered those being made redundant assistance in gaining new employment, including help with preparing CVs and interview training.
The mill will continue to operate one paper machine, and produce newsprint for the New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island markets.
Norske Skog said in September the decision to close the machine was driven by falling demand and unfavourable exchange rates that made large-scale exports to Asia unprofitable.
Cascades Tissue Group said that it has achieved Green Seal Standard, GS-1 re-certification of Sanitary Paper Products for its entire line of Cascades® and North River® away-from-home towel and tissue products.
In September 2011, Green Seal made major revisions to its GS-1 standard. The standard was first established more than 20 years ago for products such as bathroom tissue, facial tissue, paper towels, napkins, wipes and placemats. Overall, it sets the environmental, health, and social requirements for sanitary paper products and comprehensively addresses environmental life-cycle issues spanning raw materials, manufacturing, packaging and product use and performance.
The re-certification encompasses 114 branded products, all made from 100 percent recycled fiber, the company said.
“Cascades has offered Green Seal-certified paper towels and tissue since 2005,” said Dr. Arthur Weissman, President and CEO of Green Seal. “In achieving certification to the revised GS-1 standard, the North River and Cascades products continue to represent leadership in sustainability in this industry.”
Yankee Publishing Inc., an institution in New Hampshire (it is based in Dublin) and New England through the bimonthly Yankee (launched in 1935) and the since-1792 weather-forecasting annual The Old Farmer's Almanac (acquired by YPI in 1939), announced on Jan. 4 the purchase of Manchester, N.H.-based McLean Communications. All of McLean's properties are New Hampshire-endemic, which are led by New Hampshire magazine, New Hampshire Business Review and Parenting New Hampshire.
McLean's custom publishing unit publishes Celebrate New Hampshire for the state's liquor commission and annuals for the Manchester and Nashua chambers of commerce. They complement YPI's The Official New Hampshire Visitors' Guide for the state's division of tourist development and New Hampshire Ski and Snow magazine.
With all of the synergy, it is no surprise that McLean president/publisher (since 1995) Sharon McCarthy said that "YPI was my first choice" after the company's parent, Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based Independent Publications Inc., announced its intention to sell the unit last fall.
Terms of the transaction were not announced, but the Dec. 28, 2012, closing ensured the lower capital gains rate prior to the Jan. 1, 2013, passage of new tax laws designed to keep the U.S. from going over the "fiscal cliff."
Irving Paper has a new target to beat in 2013 as it ends 2012 with record-breaking production. The team of over 300 employees pulled together to make 408,214 tonnes of quality specialty grade paper. While production has increased, the team has worked hard to reduce the mill’s impact on the environment. Over the past five years, Irving Paper has achieved a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of about 20,000 cars off the road.
Saint John is the province’s forestry hub; and Irving Paper is a significant contributor to the local economy, generating about $30 million in wages and buying over $132 million a year in goods and services from New Brunswick suppliers. The mill is also active in the community – including volunteering with the award-winning PALs program at Glen Falls School, revitalizing local playgrounds, and supporting meal programs.
Turkey's first Speedmaster XL 162 from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is destined for packaging print shop Sentez Packaging Group (SENTEZ), a Selcuklu Holding affiliate in Istanbul. The Speedmaster XL162 six-color press with coating unit, elevated feeder and delivery and logistics will be installed end of the first quarter 2013. With its new press and a workforce of around 450, the company will move to a new 50,000 sqm building to centralize its print production.
"After intensive investigations and discussions, I am certain that we will manage to achieve the planned high quality printing and productivity standards with the new press from Heidelberg", says SENTEZ operation manager Hakan Çilingir. Prior to their purchase decision, SENTEZ had been working with equipment from a competitor. The company decided on the new large-format investment after thorough testing at Heidelberg with their own jobs in terms of stability, speed, quality, cost efficiency and make-ready times.
Main reason for the investment is the group's intention to considerably boost their productivity. Straightforward operation and robust technology deliver the reliability in production that will place the company's economic success on a firm footing.
"We have a close business relationship to Heidelberg Turkey, and we feel confident with the local service team's reputation in the market. Since we plan to increase our export ratio and intend to meet our customers' demands without restrictions of any kind, we have chosen Heidelberg as a reliable partner to ensure a long-term sustainable production," underlines owner and managing director Süleyman Öncel.
SENTEZ operates a total of three production sites in Istanbul. In addition to sheetfed offset print production, the company also runs production lines for flexo and rotogravure printing.
With mergers and acquisitions now hitting prerecession levels, it’s no surprise that Metrocorp Inc., the publisher of Boston and Philadelphia magazines, is expanding its reach by acquiring a majority stake in Slice Communications.
This small Philadelphia-based boutique public relations and social media agency that was founded in 2008 works with a variety of clients in the technology, professional services, customer services and non-profit sectors.
The roots of the deal began growing in 2012 after Slice Communications executed some successful social media campaigns for clients of Boston and Philadelphia magazines.?
“They went extremely well,” Staci Bender, founder and principal of Slice Communications, tells FOLIO:. “That was what really propelled this forward. We had a really good working relationship and for Metrocorp, they wanted to further engage and develop their community strategies with the insights and analytic tools that Slice brings to the table. Being a social media and public relations agency, that really interested them moving forward—being able to offer some of these services to their clients.”
Slice Communications will continue to function as an independent business unit within Metrocorp, with Bender and her team overseeing day-to-day operations and management of the business.
Oil rose, trading near the highest level in almost four months in New York on estimates that U.S. refiners boosted crude use and amid signs of an economic recovery in Europe.
West Texas Intermediate futures advanced as much as 0.5 percent, the third consecutive daily increase. Refineries probably raised their average run rate last week by 0.2 percentage points to 90.6 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey ahead of an Energy Department report to be released tomorrow. Economic confidence in the euro area increased more than economists forecast in December, data from the European Commission in Brussels showed today.
“Oil has a moderate up-side bias due to improving market sentiment and a slow tightening of the supply-demand balance,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, who predicts Brent will rise to $118 a barrel this quarter. “But tightening doesn’t mean the market is tight, just that the oversupply is shrinking.”
Crude for February delivery was at $93.78 a barrel, up 59 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:28 a.m. London time.
The U.S. Postal Service posted a net loss of $816 million for the month of November, the second month of its fiscal year. Of that amount, $467 million was due to a required prepayment into the USPS Retiree Health Benefit fund, which the Postal Service has defaulted on paying for the past two years.
Despite the November loss, fiscal year-to-date results have been mixed. While November mail volume declined by 3.4%, it is up 2.8% year to date. Similarly, total revenue was down 1.3% in November but up 2.2% for the first two months of the fiscal year, and standard-mail revenue, used most often for marketing mailings, was down 4.3% in November but up 3.0% year to date.
First-class mail, the USPS' most profitable product, accounting for 43% of total revenue, continued to decline both in November (off 5.0%) and year to date (down 2.0%).
The Rottneros Group has decided to continue to produce groundwood pulp at Rottneros Mill. The initiative to improve the groundwood mill's process has resulted in the mill producing and marketing a new grade with properties that are particularly attractive to board manufacturers.
There are plans to produce between 40,000and 50,000tonnes of groundwood pulp in 2013 and it will constitute the new board grade as well as current printing paper grades.
The Board of Rottneros announced in May 2012 that it had entered into negotiations concerning the termination of continuous groundwood pulp production at Rottneros Mill. Negotiations, which were concluded mid-year, resulted in the organisation having to reduce its staff by around 50 posts. Twenty or so employees are now being offered continued work.
Walgreens had December sales of $6.71 billion, a decrease of 4.0 percent from $6.99 billion for the same month in fiscal 2012.
Total front-end sales decreased 1.3 percent compared with the same month in fiscal 2012, while comparable store front-end sales decreased 2.3 percent. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 4.0 percent while basket size increased 1.7 percent.
Sales in comparable stores decreased by 6.1 percent in December. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 1.3 percentage points, while generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 3.2 percentage points.
Calendar 2012 sales were $70.51 billion, a decrease of 3.7 percent from $73.19 billion in 2011.
Fiscal 2013 year-to-date sales for the first four months were $24.03 billion, down 4.4 percent from $25.15 billion in the comparable period in fiscal 2012.
UPM has finalized the employee information and consultation process with the Central Workers’ Council of UPM France and the Workers’ Council of the Stracel mill. The mill ceased production of coated magazine paper on January 4, 2013.
The consultation process was started in July, 2012. The process is part of UPM’s asset review announced on 31 August 2011, aiming to adjust company’s magazine paper capacity to match the needs of its global customer base.
The current customers of the UPM Stracel will be served from other UPM mills. UPM Stracel mill has been producing 270 000 tonnes of coated magazine paper grades. The mill has 250 employees.
As the next step, UPM will continue the negotiations of the sale of assets and part of the land of the Stracel mill to the joint venture created by VPK Packaging Group and Klingele Papierwerke.
“We have taken the necessary time needed to find the best possible solution for the Stracel mill and its employees. The process was done together with all relevant stakeholders and we want to thank them all for their cooperation” says Jyrki Ovaska, President of UPM Paper Business Group.
“The project of VPK and Klingele to convert the mill into a recycled fibre based containerboard mill is serious and provides an option to create a new industrial future for the Stracel site and for a number of its employees. The aim is to conclude these negotiations as soon as possible,” says Ovaska.
Potpourri Group announced yesterday that last month, it had acquired Cuddledown, Inc., a multichannel direct retailer of high-end bedding related products, for an undisclosed sum.
In a statement sent to the press, Potpourri Group president and CEO Jonathan Fleishmann said his company was attracted to Cuddledown because of the strength of its management team, led by president and CEO Chris Bradley, its impressive growth and the complementary nature of it product and customer base.
"We believe Cuddledown will benefit from the rebound in the housing market as well from (our) 17 million name customer database, with 2.7 million 12 month buyers," Fleishmann said in the statement. "The core of this database is middle to upper income female baby boomers and is the same as Cuddledown’s."
Yarmouth, ME-based Cuddledown is the third acquisition closed by Potpourri Group since 2010. It acquired Country Store from Readers Digest Association in 2010 and Fetch Dog from private investors in mid-2012.
Online sales rose 12.31% year over year in November, maintaining the pace set in October, among small and midsized retailers indexed by Dydacomp, a provider of order management software. Books blew away all other categories in the index at the start of the holiday shopping season with sales growth of 49.20%, followed by growth of 16.09% in sporting goods.
“The growth was driven by both an increase in the number of order transactions and an increase in the average order size,” says Fred Lizza, CEO of Dydacomp.
Book sales, with an average order value of $128.55, include sales in several specialty niche categories, Dydacomp says. “The nearly 50% jump in year-over-year growth in November sales for the books category was a surprising jump, although books have shown significant growth rates all year long,” Lizza says.
Catalyst Paper Corporation announced today that final approval has been received for listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) of its new class of common shares (new Shares) created pursuant to its reorganization under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act that completed on September 13, 2012. The new Shares will begin trading on the TSX on January 7, 2013 under the trading symbol “CYT”.
Catalyst also announced that it has initiated a Small Shareholder Selling Program (SSSP). The program gives shareholders of record as of January 3, 2013 holding 99 or fewer new Shares the opportunity to sell all of these Shares without incurring commission charges thereby minimizing their cost and inconvenience. While the SSSP does not include a mechanism to buy new Shares, the TSX listing will provide that opportunity for those who wish to purchase additional new Shares.
The SSSP will begin on January 7, 2013 and will expire on February 28, 2013, unless extended. Shareholders wishing to participate in the SSSP must sell all of their new Shares. Catalyst will arrange for orders received pursuant to the program to be sent to a participating organization of the TSX (the Broker) for execution after clearance of such orders for trading. Orders received and cleared for execution will be placed with the Broker no later than 12:00 p.m. on the next business day for execution by the TSX. Orders may be aggregated, but not netted, by Catalyst or the Broker. The price received by shareholders for their new Shares will be the average price received on all orders placed with the Broker for execution on a given day, regardless of when any individual orders are executed on that day.
Oil declined for a third day in London amid speculation that talks between Sudan and South Sudan may lead to the resumption of crude exports.
Brent futures fell as much as 0.5 percent, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate lost as much as 0.6 percent. Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir will meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Jan. 13, having agreed last week to set up a demilitarized zone along their border “without further delay.” Morgan Stanley said that Brent will come under pressure as demand eases after winter in the Northern Hemisphere and supplies in Angola, Nigeria and South Sudan are restored.
“The improved supply-demand balance should put marginal downward pressure on Brent prices over the next few months,” Hussein Allidina, head of commodities research at Morgan Stanley in New York, said in a report. “We assume production will return from South Sudan through 2013.”
Brent for February settlement slipped 33 cents to $110.98 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 11:09 a.m. local time.
“The 112th Congress adjourned without having passed postal legislation. Such legislation could quickly restore the Postal Service to profitability and put the organization on a stable, long-term financial footing. This lack of action is disappointing.
The Postal Service has worked closely with the Congress over the past two years to advance a framework for a viable business model that will allow us to quickly respond to the evolving needs of our customers. As a result of frequent communication with Congressional leaders, we have modified important parts of our five-year comprehensive business plan, including the pace of consolidation of mail processing facilities, to give Congress maximum flexibility to make needed legislative changes. Unfortunately, Congress has not enacted these changes. As we sought to provide solutions to enable legislative change, we pursued cost-reducing and revenue-generating activities. Over the past two years we have reduced head count by approximately 60,000 career employees. We have consolidated 70 of our mail processing facilities. We moved to reduce hours at many of our Post Offices. We also have worked to substantially increase our package volume along with introducing a same-day delivery service.
As we look to the coming year, we are on an unsustainable financial path. We are currently losing $25 million per day, we have defaulted on $11.1 billion in Treasury payments and exhausted our borrowing authority. The Postal Service should not have to do business this way, which has undermined the confidence of our customer base and the $800 billion mailing industry we serve. We will be discussing with our Board of Governors a range of accelerated cost cutting and revenue generating measures designed to provide us some financial breathing room.
We encourage the new 113th Congress to make postal reform an urgent priority, and to work steadily toward the quick passage of reform legislation. We will continue to work with leaders of our House and Senate oversight committees and all members of Congress to help make this happen.”
On December 5, Burrows Paper Corporation completed the acquisition of the remaining 75 percent equity interest in Innopak Hong Kong Limited (the investment company that owns 100 percent of Innopak Heshan) from Innopak Holdings Limited. Until recently, Burrows was a 25 percent stakeholder in this joint venture packaging company.
The move further expands Burrows' ability to provide global customers with worldwide access to premium packaging for their products, company officials stated.
"We are very proud to welcome the Innopak team into the Burrows family," said Burrows Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Bill Burrows . "The synergy of our two companies holds great potential for mutually beneficial integration and significant growth opportunities. Through our shared values and commitment to quality, we will achieve our primary goal of providing superior packaging products to customers, as well as broader opportunities for employees."
Innopak Heshan is a converter of specialty paper and board-based foodservice packaging products. Innopak's current offerings include specialized hand carry bags, grease-resistant wraps, color printed clamshells and more.
The company was established in 2007 and its manufacturing facility is located at Longkou, Heshan, Guangdong, China. Stringent Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems guide Innopak's ISO9001:2008 and QS registered operations.
While the industry as a whole is struggling with declining print ad revenues, there’s hopeful news going into the New Year, as some big magazine publishers are reporting major growth in digital revenues.
The 'Atlantic' announced that digital advertising revenue increased 32% in 2012 compared to the previous year, and now makes up over half (59%) of its total advertising revenues. Its events business, AtlanticLive, which produces events like the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Washington Ideas Forum, posted a 24% increase in revenues compared to the previous year.
2012 marked the third year in a row of profitability for the company overall.
The strong growth in digital revenues went hand in hand with big increases in the audiences for The Atlantic’s digital properties. In November, TheAtlantic.com attracted 13.1 million unique visitors, while TheAtlanticWire.com attracted 4.7 million unique visitors -- both record-breaking numbers for the company. TheAtlanticCities.com passed 1 million unique visitors for the first time in August, less than a year after launch. Together, the three Web sites saw traffic increase more than 50% in 2012 compared to 2011.
Separately, Wired said digital advertising contributed half of all ad revenues in the final quarter of 2012, according to Ad Age. For the year overall, digital ads contributed 45% of the brand’s total ad sales. That’s up from just 10% in 2006. Currently, about 90% of Wired’s digital ad revenues come from the Web, as opposed to mobile channels.
In the New Year, regional media company Yankee Publishing, Inc. welcomes some new additions—the company has acquired the entire portfolio of McLean Communications, which include five regional New Hampshire titles—its first such acquisition in 25 years.
“Essentially all of the assets of the corporation were included,” says Jamie Trowbridge, president and CEO of Yankee Publishing, Inc. “I’ve been watching this company grow in New Hampshire throughout the years and it’s a great fit with our company.”
Trowbridge declined to release financial terms of the deal.
The publisher and president of McLean Communications, Sharron McCarthy, came to New Hampshire-based Yankee Publishing after learning that the business’ parent company, Independent Publications, Inc., would be putting McLean Communications up for sale. The whole deal, says Trowbridge, took about three months to complete.
AAA Fuel Gage 1/04/13
National Unleaded Regular:
Current Average - $3.295/gallon
Month Ago Average - $3.380/gallon
Year Ago Average - $3.288/gallon
Highest Recorded Average - $4.114/gallon on 7/17/08
Current Average - $3.914/gallon
Month Ago Average - $4.008/gallon
Year Ago Average - $3.820/gallon
Highest Recorded Average - $4.845/gallon on 7/17/08
Current Exchange Rates as of 1/04/13
American Dollar to Canadian Dollar = 1.008147
American Dollar to Chinese Yuan = 0.160461
American Dollar to Euro = 1.300971
American Dollar to Japanese Yen = 0.11332
American Dollar to Mexican Peso = 0.078024
Oil dropped for a second day, erasing most of its weekly gain in London, after U.S. Federal Reserve officials signaled the winding down of a stimulus program this year in the world’s biggest crude user.
Brent futures dropped as much as 1.6 percent, trimming its weekly increase to 0.1 percent. Members of the Federal Open Market Committee said they will probably end their $85 billion monthly bond purchases sometime in 2013, according to minutes of its latest meeting released yesterday. The U.S. unemployment rate may have held at 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of a Labor Department report today.
“The U.S. is at a dangerous point where it could declare victory too early,” said Guy Wolf, a strategist at London-based commodities broker Marex Spectron Group Ltd., who predicts Brent will trade from $100 to $125 this quarter. “The risks to growth estimates in the U.S. in the second half are quite high. Removal of monetary stimulus combined with a fiscal tightening could be disastrous.”
Brent for February settlement slid as much as $1.76 to $110.38 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It traded for $110.75 at 11:30 a.m. local time.
Colorfx announced its acquisition of Capitol City Graphics, also based here. With a 26-year history of outstanding customer service and customer loyalty, Capitol City’s operation will join with Colorfx to offer customers enhanced marketing solutions and access to a more robust printing platform.
“The team of print and mail professionals at Capitol City Graphics have an outstanding reputation for customer service and quality, and we look forward to bringing new value to its customer base,” said Jon Troen, president of Colorfx. “This is a great day for Capitol City customers and employees, whom we are excited to make a part of our growing team.”
Capitol City Graphics CEO Don Davidson added, “This new partnership will greatly benefit our customers. With the addition of design, photography and digital marketing, as well as the largest print and mail platform in the state of Iowa, Colorfx will allow us to offer our customers the expanded services they want while continuing to offer the service levels they have come to expect from Capitol City Grahics.”
Gap Inc. today announced it has acquired INTERMIX Holdco Inc., a multi-brand specialty retailer of luxury and contemporary women’s apparel and accessories, based in New York.
INTERMIX operates 32 boutiques across North America, along with an e-commerce site, offering a mix of luxury brands including up-and-coming designers for customers seeking elevated fashion. Gap Inc. sees an opportunity to expand INTERMIX’s unique network of stores, as well as add significant visibility and enhancements to its online site.
“INTERMIX has a distinctive position in this growing market with clear competitive advantage,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap Inc. “Their record of merchandising with a keen eye towards mixing multiple designer labels, complemented with exclusive product, is appealing to their loyal customers. This strategy reflects the strength of their brand vision and leadership team.”
International Paper today announced it has completed the acquisition of the shares of its joint venture partner Sabanci Holding in the Turkish corrugated packaging company Olmuksa, for a purchase price of $56 million. International Paper had obtained regulatory approval for the deal in the fourth quarter of 2012. The deal sees International Paper become the majority shareholder, owning approximately 87.5 percent of Olmuksa's outstanding shares. The change of control triggers a mandatory call for tender of the remaining public shares (approximately 12.5 percent float) of Olmuksa, which will be conducted in line with the regulations of the Turkish Capital Markets Board.
"Packaging is a core business for International Paper and this deal follows our commitment to expand profitably our strong global platform and regional presence," said Maximo Pacheco, President of International Paper Europe, Middle East & Africa. He added "It is an exciting opportunity to grow and serve our customers in a strategically important geography."
The Turkish corrugated market is currently the 7th largest in Europe with expected continued average growth rates of greater than 5% annually. The country is also strategically positioned to serve as potential growth platform to the Middle-East.
Gap Inc. today reported that December 2012 net sales increased 5 percent compared with last year.
Net sales for the five-week period ended December 29, 2012 were $2.08 billion compared with net sales of $1.98 billion for the five-week period ended December 31, 2011. The company’s comparable sales for December 2012 were up 5 percent compared with a 4 percent decrease for December 2011.
Year-to-date net sales were $14.52 billion for the 48 weeks ended December 29, 2012, an increase of 6 percent compared with net sales of $13.72 billion for the 48 weeks ended December 31, 2011. The company’s year-to-date comparable sales increased 4 percent compared with a 4 percent decrease last year.
Kohl’s Corporation reported today that for the five-week month ended December 29, 2012 total sales increased 4.0 percent and comparable store sales increased 3.4 percent over the five-week month ended December 31, 2011. For the November and December period, total sales increased 0.7 percent and comparable store sales increased 0.1 percent. Year to date, total sales increased 1.0 percent and comparable store sales decreased 0.3 percent.
Barnes & Noble, Inc. today reported holiday sales for the nine-week holiday period ending December 29, 2012.
The Retail segment, which consists of the Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com businesses, had revenues of $1.2 billion, decreasing 10.9% over the prior year. This decrease was attributable to an 8.2% decline in comparable store sales, store closures and lower online sales. Core comparable store sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, decreased 3.1% as compared to the prior year due to lower bookstore traffic. Sales of NOOK products in the Retail segment declined during the holiday period due to lower unit volume and average selling prices.
While Retail sales of NOOK products fell short of the company’s expectations, bookstore sales of core products exceeded the company’s expectations, and therefore, the company continues to expect fiscal year 2013 Retail comparable bookstore sales to decline on a percentage basis in the low- to mid-single digits.
The NOOK segment, which consists of the company’s digital business (including Readers, digital content and accessories), had revenues of $311 million for the nine-week holiday period, decreasing 12.6% as compared to a year ago. Digital content sales increased 13.1%, while NOOK device unit sales declined during the holiday period as compared to the prior year. Digital content sales are defined to include digital books, digital newsstand, and the apps business.
Nordstrom, Inc. today reported an 8.6 percent increase in same-store sales for the five-week period ended December 29, 2012 compared with the five-week period ended December 31, 2011. Preliminary total retail sales of $1.72 billion for December 2012 increased 9.4 percent compared with total retail sales of $1.57 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.
Quarter-to-date same-store sales increased 5.1 percent compared with the same period in fiscal 2011. Preliminary quarter-to-date total retail sales of $2.65 billion increased 6.6 percent compared with total retail sales of $2.48 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.
Year-to-date same-store sales increased 7.0 percent compared with the same period in fiscal 2011. Preliminary year-to-date total retail sales of $10.81 billion increased 10.2 percent compared with total retail sales of $9.81 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.
Stein Mart, Inc. today reported comparable store sales increased 5.9 percent for the five-week period ended December 29, 2012. Comparable store sales for the quarter to date November/December holiday selling period were up 6.3 percent. Total sales for December were $176.5 million, an increase of 6.4 percent from the same period in 2011. For the year to date, comparable store sales increased 2.6 percent and total sales increased 3.2 percent to $1.135 billion.
Rite Aid Corporation today announced sales results for December.
For the four weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, same store sales decreased 2.2 percent over the prior-year period. December front-end same store sales decreased 1.0 percent. The New Year’s holiday calendar shift had a negative impact of 1.1 percent on front-end same store sales results. Pharmacy same store sales, which included an approximate 605 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions, decreased 2.9 percent. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 4.4 percent over the prior-year period. Increases in flu-related prescriptions and flu shots contributed 1.7 percent of this increase.
Same store sales for the 43-week period ended Dec. 29, 2012 increased 0.1 percent over the prior-year period. Front-end same store sales increased 1.4 percent while pharmacy same store sales decreased 0.6 percent. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 3.6 percent over the prior-year period.
As businesses ramp up marketing efforts to save the planet and regulators ready new guidelines to police them, it's becoming increasingly apparent that consumers aren't paying as much attention – at least if it's going to cost them more.
A Green Gauge survey by GfK finds that while 93% of consumers say they have personally changed their behavior to conserve energy in their household, they're becoming less willing to pay more for green products.
The survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, fielded last summer, finds five- to 12-point drops in the percentage of consumers willing to pay more for eco-friendly cars, biodegradable plastic packaging, energy-efficient light bulbs, electricity from renewable resources or clothing made of organic or recycled materials.
Much of the fault for the consumer pushback lies with marketers for over-hyping green products and making overly aggressive claims.
"You have this kind of heightened distrust," said Diane Crispell, consulting director at GfK. "Consumers have become hypercritical. You see it with green and health claims."
Any way you cut it, green is big business. Sales of environmentally friendly products in the U.S. exceeded $40 billion last year, according to data from various market tracking services and Advertising Age estimates. This includes $29.2 billion for organic food, more than $10 billion for hybrid, electric and clean-diesel vehicles, more than $2 billion on energy-efficient light bulbs and $640 million on green cleaning products.
The US Postal Service has said it will adopt above-inflation rate increases for its loss-making Standard Mail Flats service each year up to 2016.
The move is prompted by the Postal Regulatory Commission’s 2010 order that rates should rise towards full cost coverage, so that other mail services do not subsidise the shipping of items like catalogues.
But USPS suggested the pricing strategy was “risky” in its latest annual regulatory compliance report, out on Friday.
To make the Flats rate increases without violating its inflation-based price cap, USPS said it would be unable to increase rates for other Standard Mail services by quite as much as it would like.
As a result, it warned that complying with the Commission’s orders for Standard Mail Flats meant it would be “spending” too much of its price cap on generating income from “mail volume that may not be around to pay those prices in the future”.
One key reason USPS has shied away from increasing Standard Mail Flats rates to full cost coverage has been the danger that it would push catalogue publishers into finding alternative distribution channels, at a time when catalogues are already moving into digital outlets like tablets.
Assuming the “systemic” decline in Standard Mail Flats volumes continue, USPS warned that the rest of Standard Mail services would be required to shoulder a larger portion of network costs, and by keeping those rates “low”, “the Commission’s strategy could weaken these products’ ability to bear this burden”, USPS said.
The USPS Standard Mail Flats service had an 80.7% cost coverage in the 12 months ending 30 September, 2012, according to Friday’s report. This was a 1.4 percentage point improvement on the 2011 cost coverage, reversing a three-year decline in the service’s cost coverage.
Soundview Paper Company LLC announced that it has acquired Putney, Vermont-based (USA) Putney Paper Co, Inc., a subsidiary of APC Paper Holdings, Inc., a towel and paper products manufacturer.
Soundview Paper said the acquisition brings a broader range of commercial towel manufacturing capability into its finished paper products offering of tissue, towel and napkin products to retailers, distributors and other customers.
“We are very enthusiastic about this important addition to Soundview’s Away-from-Home business and the synergies created by putting these enterprises together," said John McLean, SVP Sales & Marketing for Soundview Paper Company. Putney is recognized for its high quality commercial towel products and has a heritage of making tissue from 100% recycled paper, fitting perfectly into the family of Soundview and Marcal brands.
"With the addition of Putney, we now offer our customers an even broader product array of towel and tissue products in the Away-from-Home segment,” McLean added.
Hearst Corp. has attracted 800,000 subscribers for the digital versions of its magazines, according to Hearst President David Carey, who revealed the number in a letter to Hearst employees circulated this week.
That’s a bit short of Carey’s earlier stated goal of accumulating 1 million digital subscribers by the end of 2012, but noting the growing popularity of e-readers and tablet computers, he expressed confidence that Hearst will reach that milestone soon.
The number touted by Carey includes customers with monthly subscriptions to Hearst titles on iPads and Android devices, as well as e-readers like Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle. Carey claimed that more than 80% of the subscribers are new to Hearst’s products. That's an interesting disclosure, which holds out the hope that the rise of digital magazines can provide incremental growth for the magazine business in general, rather than merely duplicating or replacing existing audiences.
Meanwhile on the Web, the number of monthly unique visitors to Hearst’s Web sites increased 30%, and page views from mobile devices grew from 39 million per month at the end of 2011 to 186 million per month at the end of 2012. The company’s brands have also accumulated a total of 7.7 million Facebook fans, as well as 5.5 million followers on Pinterest, and 4.7 million followers on Twitter.
Graphic Packaging Holding Company, a leading provider of packaging solutions to food, beverage and other consumer products companies, today announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisitions of Contego Packaging Holdings, Ltd., a leading food and consumer products packaging company based in the United Kingdom, and A&R Carton Holding B.V., which is A&R's European beer and beverage packaging business.
The combination of Graphic Packaging's European packaging business with these two acquisitions will create one of Europe's largest folding carton businesses. The two acquisitions will provide state of the art web and sheet-fed converting assets creating a manufacturing platform in Europe similar to Graphic Packaging's U.S. operations.
Crude slid for the first time in three days in New York on speculation that this week’s gains were unjustified as the U.S. budget deal is insufficient to ensure growth in the world’s biggest oil-consuming country.
Futures lost as much as 0.7 percent after rallying 2.6 percent in the past two sessions as U.S. lawmakers passed a bill to undo automatic tax increases and spending cuts that threatened the nation’s economic recovery. The accord won’t reduce deficits enough to avoid a sovereign-rating downgrade, Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday. Technical indicators showed crude may have risen too quickly, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“We’re seeing short-term jitters on the back of Moody’s comments of a potential downgrade in the pipeline if things are not improved in the coming months,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management Ltd. in Middelfart, Denmark.
West Texas Intermediate for February delivery dropped as much as 63 cents to $92.49 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $92.65 at 11:38 a.m. in London.
Global ad spending reached an estimated $519.0 billion last year, up 5.4% over 2011, according to revised figures from eMarketer.
In May, eMarketer projected global ad spending would total $538.0 billion for the year, up 6.8% over 2011.
The company revised that forecast due to continued economic uncertainty in many parts of the world.
Despite the revision, eMarketer projected global ad spending will continue to increase in the low single digits over the next few years, reaching a total of $628.2 billion by 2016. did they include a CAGR for the five years?
The fastest-growing ad market last year was Latin America, in which ad spending increased more than 11.0%, to $34.7 billion.
The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. today announced comparable store sales in the five weeks ended December 29, 2012 increased 2.4%. Total sales increased 1.5% to $512.9 million in the current year compared with $505.2 million in the prior year period.
Year-to-date comparable store sales increased 0.6%. Year-to-date total sales increased 0.3% to $2,718.6 million, compared with $2,710.3 million in the same period last year.
Costco Wholesale Corporation today reported net sales of $11.21 billion for the month of December, the five weeks ended December 30, 2012, an increase of twelve percent from $10.05 billion during the similar five-week period last year. This year's five-week period contained an extra day compared to last year, due to the timing of the New Year's holiday, which positively impacted total and comparable sales by approximately 2%.
For the first seventeen weeks of its fiscal year ended December 30, 2012, the Company reported net sales of $34.42 billion, an increase of nine percent from $31.68 billion during the similar period last year.
Limited Brands, Inc. reported a comparable store sales increase of 3 percent for the five weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, compared to the five weeks ended Dec. 31, 2011. The company reported net sales of $1.947 billion for the five weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, compared to net sales of $1.868 billion last year.
The company reported a comparable store sales increase of 6 percent for the 48 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, compared to the 48 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2011. The company reported net sales of $9.472 billion for the 48 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, compared to sales of $9.590 billion last year.
The Finance Authority of Maine last week approved roughly $16 million in tax credits for two groups making investments related to Great Northern Paper Co.’s mill in East Millinocket. FAME also approved a $300,000 loan for a Maine boat builder.
FAME claims in a media release the two decisions are “expected to help create and retain 448 Maine jobs” combined, although a breakdown of how many new jobs would be created vs. existing jobs retained was not available Friday.
FAME’s Board of Directors at its meeting on Dec. 20 approved the reward of nearly $16 million in tax credits to two community development entities — Stonehenge Community Development LXI LLC and Enhanced Capital New Market Development Fund X LLC — for their investments in the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket.
Enhanced Capital received a tax credit certificate for $8,125,260, while Stonehenge Community Development received a tax credit certificate for $7.8 million, according to FAME’s media release.
The tax credits are the first to be granted under the FAME-administered Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program, according to Chris Roney, FAME’s general counsel.
The program provides state tax credits of up to 39 percent to investors in qualified community development entities, such as Stonehenge and Enhanced Capital, that reinvest in qualified businesses in eligible low-income communities in Maine. The 125th Maine Legislature created the program and modeled it after the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program.
The two community development entities, which are both from Louisiana, each invested about $20 million in GNP’s East Millinocket paper mill, Roney said. So the tax credits they received were 39 percent of those investments.