MONTREAL - Transcontinental (TSX:TCL.A) says the print medium isn't dead even though the recession has forced Canada's largest printer to adjust to rapid transformation in the communications and advertising business.
The Montreal-based company's founder said Thursday that the printing, newspaper publishing and marketing firm will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of customers.
"Transcontinental was born out of change," Remi Marcoux told shareholders at the company's annual meeting.
"We will continue to evolve in pace with our customers, whether businesses or consumers, to meet their new needs and new expectations."
He said the company's long-term success will be assured by its transformation over the past year and its ability to offer new services based on digital communications.
Transcontinental has closed plants and shed 2,000 workers to save $110 million annually, including $80 million in savings last year.
It also plans to dramatically reduce its U.S. footprint by agreeing to sell its direct marketing business. It remains the leading direct marketer in Canada.
Chief executive Francois Olivier said the company acted quickly to counter the effects of the recession.
"The recession has made us stronger," Olivier said. "Today we are a more flexible business, more focused on our assets and strategic priorities, with a solid balance sheet."
Nonetheless, he expects that the company's key printing sector will continue to grow slowly with a gradual recovery of advertising, which directly or indirectly drives more than 80 per cent of its business.
The company continues to see rapid growth of new media but Olivier is cautious about pursuing dramatic changes to its operations.
Still, it has created a new sector that is focused on one-to-one advertising and new digital communications such as email-based marketing, e-flyers and custom publishing.
Next month it will complement its printed store flyer service by launching a web version called Dealstreet.ca for English consumers and Publicsac.ca in French.
The goal is to help retailers get more bang out of their advertising dollars while giving consumers another venue to search for and compare shopping deals.
Major investments have allowed Transcontinental to win new contracts with Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B), the Globe and Mail and the San Francisco Chronicle.
While Olivier said Transcontinental is willing to consider acquiring a portion of Canwest Global Communication's (TSX:CGS) newspaper assets, it has no interest in becoming a daily newspaper publisher.
Transcontinental is Canada's leading publisher of consumer magazines and the second-largest community newspaper publisher. Its digital platform delivers content through more than 120 websites.
The company has 12,500 employees in Canada, the United States and Mexico, with $2.3 billion of revenues in 2009.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares were down two cents at $12.55 in afternoon trading.