Former apprentice takes top job

Manroland Sheetfed appoints new CEO, focused on own events over Drupa

Kern: "an entirely home-grown talent"

Manroland Sheetfed has a new CEO and has opted to run its own ‘world tour’ instead of exhibiting at Drupa.

Mirko Kern has taken over as CEO from long-serving executive Rafael Penuela, who becomes chairman.

Kern was previously managing director at DC Druck Chemie Group which, like Manroland Sheetfed, is part of Langley Holdings’ €331m (£284m) turnover Print Technologies group of businesses.

The press manufacturer said Kern’s appointment was “something of a home-coming” as he began his career with the then-Manroland group in 1989 as an apprentice, and went on to hold a variety of positions across the organisation before leaving to join print chemicals specialist Druck Chemie in 2011.

Langley Holdings founder and chairman Anthony Langley said: “I am very pleased that it has been possible to undertake this transition with entirely home-grown talent.

“On behalf of the board and personally, I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Rafael Penuela for his outstanding leadership of Manroland since we acquired the business in 2012 and to warmly welcome Mirko Kern to his new role as CEO. We wish him every success.”

One of Kern’s key tasks will be ensuring the press manufacturer is back in the black this year, after Manroland Sheetfed again posted losses in Langley’s most recent results for calendar year 2023. 

In his review of the group’s businesses, Langley said that Manroland Sheetfed had suffered from a shortfall in orders during the period, “principally from its Chinese market which historically represents around 40% of business for new presses”.

“The situation improved towards the end of the year but with many Western customers of Chinese printers reshoring, the situation is far from clear. Logically this should ultimately benefit Manroland’s Western customers, however there is significant underutilisation in much of the sector and investment remains subdued,” he stated.

Manroland branding on Gladiator, Langley Holdings' sailing team's yacht -

Manroland’s cost base has been reduced by around €10m via last year’s restructuring that resulted in 181 roles being cut at it Offenbach HQ, mostly voluntarily.

Apprentice intake has been maintained, and Langley said he expected a positive contribution from the press manufacturer in 2024.

Manroland Sheetfed will not exhibit at the upcoming Drupa expo. Instead, the firm has embarked on a ‘World Evolution Tour’, described as “a fully-immersive experience designed to unite print industry enthusiasts and highlight the latest global advancements driving excellence and sustainability in the packaging sector”.

Events have already taken place in China and Japan, with other key hubs to follow.

Kern’s promotion has resulted in two other people moves: Druck Chemie Germany general manager Simon Wolf becomes managing director of the Druck Chemie Group; while Sebastian Seum the former head of finance at Druck Chemie takes on the same role for the Print Technologies division, which also includes pressroom chemicals specialist BluePrint Products.

Manroland Sheetfed is also set to appoint a new managing director at its UK wing. Peter Redmond left the business at the end of last year after nearly five years in the role. He is now director of service at AB Graphic International.

Acquisitive group Royal Sens is putting in two new Manroland Sheetfed presses at its operations in Holland.