As Europe's largest independent print company, Polestar Group knows the printing business. Founded in 1998, and based in London, the company prints everything from magazines to brochures, including big names like Cosmopolitan, Company, Stylist, Lonely Planet Traveller, Top Gear, and Good Food. Barry Hibbert has been CEO since 2001, and has overseen industry change, the expansion of Polestar's offerings and its gain in market share.
Barry originally studied engineering and worked in electronics production before moving into executive roles. He was a director for Europe at Harman International, a consumer electronics company, before moving into the printing industry in 1993. He then worked as group managing director at British Printing Company and was European CEO at Httprint Europe before taking on the chief executive role at Polestar.
Barry says that his past experience has helped him significantly in his current role. I've gone from an engineering background and manufacturing into general management, Barry says. In my role at Polestar I have to have an understanding of the business on an operating level, so having an engineering background in my CEO role is an important skill set to have. Most of the dynamics that we operate have an engineering bias towards us anyway because we're basically a manufacturing business.
In Barry's time heading Polestar, the industry has changed dramatically. The popularity of the internet and other digital mediums has meant a decline in magazines, one of Polestar's main focuses. Although this is bad for the industry, Barry says it has proven successful for Polestar. The industry itself is declining, so the printing industry as we know it is declining but weve actually gained market share during this period. Our growth has come unfortunately at the expense of competitors, but also from natural attrition in a declining marketplace. So we're seeing significant consolidation. I think in my 13 years as CEO I've seen eight of my 10 major competitors go into administration or consolidated, and this worldwide change is continuing.