Bob Lockley retires after half century

Bob Lockley retires after half century
Print chief calls time on 52 year career, latterly at the top of newspaper industry

Newspaper print manager Bob Lockley is retiring at the end of November, wrapping up his 52-year career in print, 33 of them with Fairfax, bowing out as Fairfax Media’s group director, print and distribution.

Lockley – one of the most influential print executives in the country - began working in the industry in 1966 as a compositor at Cumberland Newspapers at Parramatta, western Sydney, where he spent 18 years climbing through the ranks, working his way up to production manager.
He then joined Rural Press in Windsor as general manager of printing, remaining until the company merged with Fairfax in 2007.

Lockley explains, “I moved my way through Cumberland, which put me in good stead for Rural Press in 1984. The biggest thing for me was how we grew the business over 24 years, and growing our commercial printing business on the back of our mastheads, which was great.

“The biggest achievements at Rural Press were the building of the North Richmond press in 2000, plus the upgrading of all plants around the group to the latest newspaper technology, and the merger with Fairfax in 2007.  That was a huge leap forward, taking control of all the Fairfax presses, and then to grow the commercial business in those sites.”

Following the merger, Lockley became Fairfax’s CEO of printing, successfully leading the restructure of company’s printing model, in which the major Melbourne and Sydney broadsheets were switched to tabloids and the two print sites  Chullora and Tullamarine were closed and sold off.
Lockley also rationalised the Fairfax NZ print sites, upgrading and changing structures.

“We built up the heatset printing business in Australia, and are now running at number three. In coldset commercial printing we are the biggest in Australia,” says Lockley.

While printed newspapers have been in a steady decline for readership, and advertising sales, Lockley’s changes have kept print profitable for Fairfax. By 2015, he had saved the publisher 60 per cent of total print costs.

The changes included the transfer of print production from Tullamarine to Ballarat in Victoria, and Chullora to North Richmond in New South Wales. Lockley was a committed manroland user and one of the German giant’s biggest customers in Australia.

Throughout his career Lockley experienced massive changes in the industry, noting that, “The computer plate evolution in about 2000 was the biggest change, then the next biggest is the ability for hybrid presses in heatset and UV in coldset presses.

“Automation has been amazing in all of these presses, and the stronger focus on health and safety across the industry has been important over the years.”

Greg Hywood, CEO, Fairfax, says, “Under Bob Lockley’s leadership, Fairfax embraced cutting-edge production methods and rationalised our printing footprint. His successful closure of Tullamarine and Chullora was instrumental in setting our publishing business on the road to a sustainable future. He has also built us a successful commercial printing business.”

Lockley was also a key member of several industry bodies, leading the Single Width User Group since 1990 and acting as a board member of the Australian Catalogue Association, the Pressgang Committee and Environmental Advisory Group.

Lockley says, “I have had a fabulous career, and I am not getting any younger. It has been awesome; I want to enjoy time with family.  This will be a new chapter, and a new era. I want to travel, see more of the countries I visited through work, and stay fit and enjoy time with my grandkids.”

As for the future of newspaper print in Australia, Lockley says, “If anybody has the answer to that, I would like to know…”

Source: Australian Printer

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