RR Donnelley, who was the largest printer in the world, decided in 2016 to make a spin-off from its traditional graphic arts businesses (Moore Business) and stationery items (Tops Products).

Said spin-off resulted in LSC Communications, the new holding company of "Moore Business" and "Tops Products", which was held for about four years pending sale. However, in February 2020, the dramatic drop in the value of the shares of LSC Communications, owner of Tops Products, was announced and its sale process was halted.

TOPS Products is (after "ACCO Brands") the leading US manufacturer of stationery, supplying offices, schools and homes throughout North America and part of Mexico. Its best known brands are Oxford®, Pendaflex®, Cardinal®, Ampad®, Adams®, Quality Park®, Boorum & Pease® and TOPS ™.

In the month of April and after the fall and recovery of its shares, LSC Communications, released the following (Bloomberg):

"LSC Communications, announced that along with most of its US print and office product affiliates, it voluntarily filed a business reorganization under the US Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York "

The Company's decision follows a thorough evaluation of opportunities to reduce its debt and better position LSC to compete and deliver exceptional products and services to its clients.

LSC has sufficient liquidity to continue operating its business safely and efficiently and remains committed to serving its clients with the same high standards of

Quality and reliability they expect.

Subsidiaries of LSC in Mexico and Canada are not included in the legal proceedings and will continue to operate in the normal course.

Finally, on September 15, LSC entered into a share and asset purchase agreement with a subsidiary of the private equity firm Atlas Holdings LLC, with the support of some of LSC's secured creditors (group of creditors).

The transaction, which will lead to the specialist in printing books, catalogs and magazines listed on the stock exchange; logistics provider; and private provider of office products, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Atlas Holdings will acquire substantially all of LSC's assets, including its operations in Canada and Mexico, through a combination of cash and a credit offering of obligations under the secured term credit facility of the company and senior secured notes in the direction of the group of secured creditors. Atlas will also assume certain responsibilities of LSC, including, subject to certain preconditions being met, obligations related to LSC's qualified pension plan.

Atlas Holdings has other interests in the paper / packaging industry

Greenwich, Connecticut-based Atlas Holdings is no stranger to the printing, packaging and paper industries. Andrew Bursky and Tim Fazio started Atlas in 2002 with the purchase of a small paper mill in rural Indiana that employed 85 people. Today, Atlas and its affiliates own 21 companies that generate more than $ 6 billion in annual revenue and employ approximately 22,000 people in more than 200 manufacturing and distribution facilities around the world. Atlas targets underperforming or discontinued corporate vendor operations, bankruptcy purchases, out-of-court restructurings and reorganizations.

Its holdings within the paper industry include Finch, a paper manufacturer specializing in uncoated papers; Twin Rivers Paper, a manufacturer of lumber, specialty packaging, labels, and publishing papers; Marcal, a manufacturer of paper towels and paper products; and Millar Western, an Alberta-based pulp producer.


If we do an analysis of their opportunities and threats, the latter have been around Tops for a long time:

Unfortunately, the external environment shows more threats than opportunities, especially due to Corovid 19, which accelerated the economic contraction in the US and the "excessive" use of technology, which is a natural and frontal substitute for stationery for office and schools.

TOPS must do (if it has not already done so) a deep internal analysis where it must take into account that its competitive position is second, since the first is "ACCO" and that it is also in an industry, whose growth is being very slow, therefore in general terms you should implement strategies such as:

1) Diversify (if time allows) in Latin American markets, where their products still have a strong demand and take advantage of their economy of scale to offer competitive prices.

2) Develop strategic allies in emerging countries such as Latin America, to reduce economic and market risks.

3) Immediate cut of unnecessary expenses and that do not add value.

4) Redesign your purchasing strategy and look for substitute suppliers outside of China.

5) Outsourcing all activities that are not part of the "core business" as its marketing area which is very primitive and obsolete.

6) Having reviewed the profitability by product, eliminate those that are not highly profitable or do not justify that they add value.

7) Review of profitability per customer and their payment performance, to eliminate those that do not add enough value to the company.

8) Change your perception of the market, putting a greater focus on the consumer rather than the distribution channel

9) Take more seriously the implementation of a better ERP & CRM that allows them a greater knowledge of supply and demand, inventory movement and customers.

10) Accelerate e-business implementation.

11) Modernize business management.

Well, these are just some recommendations that we humbly recommend from Mexico to our friends at TOPS, wishing them a better future now under the management of Atlas Holdings.

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