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Wholesale lab scores $2.6 mil grant

PMI Imageworks, major competitor to Glenn Innes-based wholesale fulfillment operation Photo Create, scored a $2.6 million government grant in April – over one-third of the funds required for a $6.1 million expansion of its operations in the Melbourne inner northern suburb of Brunswick.

Chris Zapris (far right) takes Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine (centre) and local MPs on a tour of the PMI Imageworks operations.
Chris Zapris (far right) takes Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine (centre) and other state politicians on a tour of the PMI Imageworks operations.

Although hardly known to most of the photo industry, and apparently intent on keeping a low public profile, PMI Imageworks is a large operation running multiple Indigo digital presses, wide-format printers and silver halide minilab equipment.

Photo Counter reported on the establishment of PMI Imageworks in 2012.

The announcement of the grant – from the ‘Melbourne’s North Innovation and Investment Fund’ (MNIIF) was made jointly by the Premier of Victoria, Dennis Napthine, and the Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane. The fund stems from the closure of the Ford plant in Broadmeadows, and is designed to boost manufacturing employment in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

They claimed that the grant – for capital investment – will create 110 new jobs at PMI Imageworks, boosting employment from the 30 to 140.

PMI Imageworks handles around 40 – 45,000 individual orders per day sent in from a range of customers among which are believed to be Snapfish, and UK online giant, PhotoBox (which also has a local website). The client list is well-guarded by PMI Imageworks – which can be partially explained by the fact that its clients are also online competitors!

PMI Imageworks wholesale fulfillment centre in Brunswick.
PMI Imageworks wholesale fulfillment centre in Brunswick.

However, one outside-the-box client Photo Counter can confirm is UNICEF, which now offers a full range of products from photographic prints through to photobooks and gifts produced by PMI. UNICEF has dropped conventional cards and gifts to raise funds and moved into the photographic industry. And just as Fujifilm operates the websites for clients Big W and Harvey Norman, PMI Imageworks is the operator of the UNICEF website.

In an interview with Greek-Australian news website Neos Kosmos, PMI Imageworks CEO Chris Zapris said: ‘We are a wholesaler to some of the world’s biggest online brands.’

He told Neos Kosmos the most popular printed item in the PMI Imageworks range is photo books, of which the website claimed they produce ‘thousands upon thousands….daily’.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the PMI project is an example of the type of innovative and high-tech investment in equipment that will allow Australian industry to transition into the advanced manufacturing sector.

‘Melbourne’s north has faced significant challenges recently. But these new investments are a show of confidence in the region and in the change of direction that is taking place in manufacturing which can be a catalyst for new jobs,’ he said..

‘The MNIIF will help entrepreneurial businesses like PMI undertake new job creating projects during this transition period.’

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says PMI is a sophisticated printing company thats mission is to become Australia’s most technologically advanced digital printer.

‘PMI is a leader in this hi-tech industry and a company with a lean structure and flexible production techniques to enable tight turnaround times,’ he said.

One Comment

  1. PG PG June 13, 2014

    I hope that PMI and PC don’t have a race to the bottom although PC has been in the space for some time now, not sure if Australia is a big enough market for them to go head to head.

    We offer a 1 hour service premium for photo books these past 6 years, it is a growing market. Maybe we could get a grant too for an Indigo!

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