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Transcontinental selling book printing business to Marquis

A husband and wife and their daughter hold books at the dinner table in Sahtlam, B.C. Transcontinental said it will focus on four-colour web offset printing for book markets in Canada and the U.S., a niche where it has already established a reputation.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

Transcontinental Inc. is selling its book printing business, including two plants in Quebec, to Marquis Book Printing Inc. as it plans to focus on a niche segment of the printing market due to competitive pressures.

The Montreal-based media company said Monday it made the decision to sell the business for an undisclosed price after a review of its business plan and long-term strategy.

"We thought long and hard before deciding to sell the assets of our Sherbrooke and Louiseville plants," said Francois Olivier, president and CEO of Transcontinental.

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"Over the past several months we have made strategic decisions based on changes in the book printing market. We are sure that our one- and two-colour book customers in Quebec will continue to be well-served by the new acquirer."

The assets being sold include the Transcontinental Gagne printing plant in Louiseville and the Transcontinental Metrolitho printing plant in Sherbrooke, which together employ some 200 people. The employees will be transferred to Marquis, which will decide how to proceed with staffing levels, said a Transcontinental spokeswoman.

Transcontinental said it plans to specialize in certain types of markets, given the highly competitive nature of the industry in recent years.

It said it will focus on four-colour web offset printing for book markets in Canada and the U.S., a niche where it has already established a reputation.

"We remain well-positioned to respond to the demands of our customers who are looking for better marketing solutions in our areas of specialization, including educational book printing," Olivier said.

Marquis said the acquisition will elevate its position in the market and allow it to develop new markets and products.

"These acquisitions are aligned to the Marquis business plan, which will see us continue to grow in Canada and in foreign markets from our base in Quebec," said Serge Loubier, president of Marquis.

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"These new acquisitions, the variety of content and the talent of our employees will enable us to take advantage of promising business opportunities. If we are at this stage today, it is due to our client's trust, and we intend to continue innovating and growing together in the future."

Marquis said it will meet with new employees over the coming weeks to evaluate "their overall potential with respect to the company's business plan."

The company already owns three production plants in Quebec, as well as graphic and pre-press production centres and a sales office in the province.

Transcontinental is the largest printer in Canada and fourth-largest in North America. It is a publisher of magazines, French-language educational resources and community newspapers in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

It has been consolidating its production in a smaller number of modern plants as it increases its digital media offering.

In March it announced that two of the six Quad/Graphics plants – one in Dartmouth, N.S., and one in suburban Montreal – would be closed.

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Transcontinental said earlier this year that its plan to launch a television production business will create content that can be cross fed with its magazine, newspaper and digital operations.

The company had said it's not looking to become a broadcaster but wants to leverage the content already produced in its other platforms.

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