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Transcontinental's annual meeting focused on growth and a tribute to its employees

Press release from the issuing company

MONTREAL, March 22 -- Transcontinental is holding its annual meeting of shareholders today at 4 p.m., and management will be focusing on growth, confidence in the future and paying a warm tribute to employees. That is what Remi Marcoux, executive chairman of the Board, said to representatives of the media just before lunch this morning. He was accompanied by Luc Desjardins, president and chief executive officer, and Benoit Huard, vice president and chief financial officer. "I'm convinced that we have a solid game plan, the people to carry it out, and the financial solidity and business credibility to keep growing and remain a winner in the new economic environment," Mr. Marcoux said. After describing how proud he is of the value Transcontinental has created for shareholders since the Horizon 2005 business project began in November 2001, Mr. Marcoux reiterated his full confidence in the future of the company. The executive chairman of the Board noted that the rise in the Canadian dollar has made acquisitions in the United States more affordable, and that Transcontinental is in a sound financial position to be more active on that front. Recently returned from a trip to China, Mr. Marcoux played down the threat this emerging economy poses to Transcontinental. Among other things he mentioned the advantage Transcontinental's targeted niche strategy gives it at the international level. Lastly, Mr. Marcoux pointed out that Transcontinental's business credibility, "built patiently over 30 years," gives it unique growth potential and has made Transcontinental a business partner to an impressive list of major North American corporations. "It is through our culture of trust and openness that we have been able to build our approach to outsourcing in newspaper printing, premedia and custom publishing." For his part, Luc Desjardins noted that at the annual meeting he will be paying tribute to Transcontinental's approximately 14 000 employees for making Horizon 2005 such a success in a difficult economic period. His presentation will include a video of some 20 employees from all across North America, who will review the achievements of Horizon 2005, comment on the major investments made over the past year and express their expectations for the new business project, Evolution 2010, launched in November 2005. The president and CEO will list the steps Transcontinental has taken to counter the sharp increase in the Canadian dollar, namely by making investments in property, plant and equipment that are much higher than average compared to its main competitors, paired with investments in employee training to instill the culture of continuous improvement company-wide. He will also speak of the importance of Transcontinental's targeted strategy, "which means being the best in each of our niches," of its business model, which builds customer loyalty "by continually adding value-added services," and of the greater emphasis than ever before on "the innovative talents of our people and organic growth." Mr. Desjardins will also talk about the major achievements of the Media sector in 2005, namely the 5th anniversary of the Mi©tro free daily paper and the partnership with Yellow Pages Group to publish innovative niche-specific guides. He will note the growth potential of the Media sector and the advantage its strong and prestigious brand names give it as it shifts into digital media. Finally, he will give an overview of the five priority "Issues for 2010" under Evolution 2010: the development of new products and services on multichannel digital platforms, the introduction of an integrated marketing services offering, the reduction of cycle times, organic growth in sales, and talent development. Benoit Huard, vice president and chief financial officer, will put figures to the challenges of fiscal 2005, namely the increase in the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar and underlining the measures taken since the 2001 launch of Horizon 2005 to counter these effects. He will then present financial results for 2005 and the first quarter of 2006, and will speak about the outlook for 2006 and the financial objectives of Evolution 2010. "We have every confidence in our future," Huard will conclude. "Our solid financial position allows us to pursue numerous business opportunities. You can be sure that we will continue to grow our business in the disciplined way our shareholders, customers and employees have come to expect."