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Advocate expands with commercial printing purchase

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Atlantic Canada’s largest independent printing company, Advocate Printing and Publishing Company Ltd., grew even larger today with the purchase of most of Transcontinental Inc.’s Dartmouth-based commercial printing business.

After two years of negotiations, the deal, announced in Halifax this afternoon, acquires Transcontinental’s sales and client services team, who are moving to Advocate’s Burnside office, along with printing equipment from a 60,000 square-foot commercial printing facility.

The deal does not include Transcontinental’s national clients, newspaper publishing, newspaper printing, or retail flyers.

In an era of uncertainty in the print industry, Advocate’s president and CEO Sean Murray says it’s proof the company is committed to investing in Atlantic Canada.

“We are passionate about Atlantic Canada and Atlantic Canadian business,” he says. “We work to enhance our economy and our communities through better communication. Printed product is everywhere and an important component of every marketing mix. We are very proud of this opportunity to better service the marketplace.”

Advocate’s flagship printing facility in Pictou, N.S., will see the bulk of the new production, while Bridgewater, N.S.; St. Stephen, N.B.; and Dieppe, N.B., will also receive modernized equipment over the coming weeks.

Transcontinental staff were notified this afternoon of the sale, and about 55 people were laid off. Murray says along with sales and client staff, several production positions will be offered to support increased output in Pictou and Bridgewater.

“We believe in community and take our role in the communities where we operate very seriously,” he said. “We are thrilled that this purchase will ensure more work that will increase our staffing levels in Pictou and Bridgewater as well as our New Brunswick facilities.”

Shane Sponagle, vice president of sales, says the company is working to make the transition for incoming employees as smooth as possible.

“It will hopefully be an easy transition for them and their clients because we’ll offer all of the same things and more than they’re used to having at their disposal,” said Sponagle.

As for Advocate’s current clients, Sponagle says the move means even more options.

“It just solidifies our position as the largest commercial printer in Atlantic Canada,” he said. “We’re in this for the long haul, we’re not going anywhere, and they can expect we’ll be around for a long time,” he said.

Details of the sale, including price, have not been released. Mike LeBlanc, vice president of production, says a 40-inch press with coating capabilities will move to Pictou, and a five-colour printing press will go to Bridgewater.

“I think the slow downturn in printing is starting to settle down,” said Leblanc, adding the new equipment will enable crews to work on projects they didn’t have the capacity for in the past.

Advocate has approximately 350 employees, which, in addition to the commercial printing divisions, includes the media division that publishes 10 newspapers, 21 trade and regional magazines (including Halifax Magazine), and operates a flyer distribution division, commercial photography, creative design, and digital services.

The company works throughout the Atlantic provinces with printing facilities in Pictou and Bridgewater in Nova Scotia and Dieppe and St. Stephen in New Brunswick.

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