In a recent letter to its clients, Quebecor World, the magazine printer, reveals in painful,
exasperated detail just how badly the distribution system has been screwed up in the wake of the wholesaler implosion. It’s an eye-opening
view into the distribution world.
According to Quebecor’s memo, the supply chain was achieving a relative sense of normalcy until Source Interlink’s court-ordered injunction
came through, which turned the system on its head once again: "Just
when it appeared the turmoil was clearing up after the magazine
national distributors had reassigned almost all of the Anderson News
and Source Interlink wholesaler copies to new wholesalers, a NY judge
issued a court order prohibiting publishers and national distributors
from denying shipments to Source Interlink’s wholesale magazine
Once the court order came through, Quebecor said, the copies had to
be re-consigned—again—resulting in a deluge of shipping requests and
changes that created havoc with Quebecor’s already delicate
distribution plans. "Clear direction from some publishers and national
distributors became further blurred when instructions to hold in the
morning were then reversed in the afternoon. This caused QW plants and
QWL CF locations to start and stop destination re-flagging of pallets,
load planning, truck rerouting and stopping of equipment in route on
the same day."
The court order, Quebecor said, created a "mixed bag" of
instructions from publisher clients and national distributors, often at
odds with each other, moving the printer to urge its clients to stay in
close touch with their national distributors. "The unbundling and
segregation of hold versus no-hold titles based on individual publisher
and national distributor notice created considerable weekly pool rework
and delays," said the letter.
And according to Quebecor, Anderson’s recent operational shutdown
was done without formal notice, and some national distributors have yet
to find wholesaler suppliers for the Anderson allotments. Those titles
are still on hold at the Quebecor locations "pending receipt of
national distributor disposition notice."
As trucks arrived at 11 Anderson-owned Prologix East
locations between February 6 and February 9, they found the wholesaler
facilities closed. Trucks had to be re-routed back to QW plants. The
News Group, which co-owns Prologix with Anderson, re-opened the
Prologix East facilities on February 11.
In an effort to control the situation, Quebecor is now
requiring notices be received
one week prior to the required date of change—even while it says it will continue to act on notices of
change from publishers and national distributors. "It has become clear
that day to day release changes cannot be accommodated without
sacrificing control of the distribution process."