Paper Merchants
06-11-2007

If we revisit 1975 there existed the big 5 paper merchants e.g. Bowater-Spicers-Edwards Dunlop/BJ Ball Wiggins Teape and Dalton groups. From these groups emerged over the next decade many smaller up to mid size merchants e.g. Moirs - Howarth, Commonwealth Paper - Walter T Mailing – Vilenski – Jaeger - Mitchell Ross – VRG – Tomasetti - Regal - K W Doggett - CPI and many others. Gradually these independents have folded into each other, names have changed and Trade Practices Law has turned the market into a free for all where paper merchants are import agents and independent import agents are forced to sell direct.

Australasian overseas mills offices have also increased from the 80’s e.g. Kymmne - Stora Enso – APP – Mondi – Sappi – Westvaco – AA – Holmen - Norske etc which for a small population is unsustainable.

This increased competition reduced profitability to its lowest survival level. Paperlinx as we now know it utilised Dalton and PaperlinX office as discount houses to combat competition.

The paper merchants and forms printers ignored the changing printing and copying process of the A4 laser printer which allowed the emerging contract stationers to dictate the price of copy paper and to control distribution of this commodity now at 230,000 tonnes consumption per annum and still today without the some positive action of their own consumers copy paper product stewardship recovery.

To summarise the fine paper market has been a dog’s breakfast for 30 years. With its current scenario possibly self inflicted but with a country possessing only one manufacturer for fine paper, one for newsprint and two for packaging there are few positives for reinvestment without further paper merchants consolidation.Triangle and Ram’s demise is no surprise but a relief to those who consider that profit is necessary for their future.