8 January 2013
Heidelberg strategies outlined at briefing
WIESLOCH, GERMANY—Emerging markets, consumables, packaging, digital printing, and supplies and parts will be the key themes and objectives for Heidelberg going forward.

Company execs revealed its strategies during a media briefing for North American and European press.

The tour included visits to local clients who are successfully deploying the Anicolor presses, press production facilities, and the impressive Print Media Centre, as well as presentations from company execs.

Editors tour the massive press manufacturing facilities in Wieslock-Walldorf
Editors tour the massive press manufacturing facilities in Wiesloch-Walldorf

In broad strokes, the company presented an upbeat front about its sales and future potential, despite the challenges posed by anemic North American sales and digital printing inroads. One of the key messages that execs articulated were the advantages and advances of offset technology, particularly in packaging and commercial short runs, in an industry where digital has been considered the holy grail for a decade.

Heidelberg strategy
Print volumes in emerging markets—countries such as China and Brazil—are growing 6% annually, and will represent 40% of the worldwide print industry by 2015. For Heidelberg that means that more than half of its own revenue will come from those countries in the mid term, said Marcel Kiessling, who heads up sales, marketing and events direction on the company’s management board. Heidelberg will continue to focus on building infrastructure there and shift resources to these areas.

The U.S. and North America, though, is still a large market that needs attention, but has changed substantially over the last 10 years. North American sales dropped nearly two thirds after 2008, but are now generating growth of 2% to 2.5% annually, which is a strong signal, said Stephan Plenz, who oversees overall product strategy on the management board. But Plenz also stressed that North American printers are operating with some of the oldest equipment in the world and they can’t compete in the global market with shops that employ more productive and efficient equipment.

Packaging continues to be a positive segment on a global basis. Its printing value was pegged at 478 billion euros in 2011 and is expected to swell to 561 euros by 2016. Heidelberg’s focus over the last several years has been on flexible, labels and folding box, which now accounts for 25% of the company’s turnover. Yet even here, the more robust growth will come from Asia.

With its partner Gallus, Heidelberg has developed a full portfolio of products from prepress and workflow systems to large-format presses and post-press products. Its latest entry is the Linoprint L, an inkjet press for label and packaging printers designed to accommodate short runs.

A second digital offering, the Linoprint C (for commercial) presses will form the basis of Heidelberg’s digital thrust. These are Ricoh rebranded machines sold as Linoprint C751 and C 901 and they connect fully into the Prinect workflow.

They are also pegged as the value segment—those presses that spit out 60 to 90 pages per minute. Heidelberg reports that this is the fastest-growing digital equipment category and the most complimentary to offset. The replacement market, said execs, is going to these devices instead of the performance engines that produce 90-plus pages per minute. Since April 2011, when it began selling Linoprint, Heidelberg has shipped about 170 presses.

In the consumables area, the company said it’s market share tallies to about 4%, compared to 40% for sheetfed presses but the market for consumables is 2.5 as large as sheetfeds, offering plenty of room for growth. In North America its consumables generate about 40% of its revene.

In other news, Plenz said the company has no plans to venture into the inkjet market for commercial applications, describing sheetfed inkjet presses as “a technology looking for a market.” He said Heidelberg has the technology to build an inkjet press today, but can’t see the market potential. He sees more value in hybrid solutions that combine inkjet with offset – doing imprinting in finishing, for example, so as not to slow the press down. He also doesn’t see any need for Heidelberg to produce a roll-to-roll device citing the large number of suppliers and little scope for differentiation.

The company also introduced its new CEO, Gerold Linzbach, replacing outgoing CEO Bernhard Schreier who has steered Heidelberg for the last 13 years. While still new to the job—having put in just 130 so far—he said his priority is to restore profitability to the company as soon as possible.
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