Heidelberg preparing digital move

Darryl Danielli
Friday, March 5, 2010

Heidelberg has confirmed that it is talking to possible digital partners to enable it to sell digital presses in 170 countries and said that a deal should be in place by the end of the year.

"We want to supply [the machines], service and consumables and we are currently in the evaluation stage to talk to several possible partners, who have an attractive product portfolio and for whom Heidelberg is attractive," said chief executive Bernhard Schreier.

"These are ongoing discussions and within this year we want to have made that decision."

Speaking to PrintWeek prior to Heidelberg's pre-Ipex briefing, where the company announced a raft of enhancements to its product range, Schreier said the deal could actually be concluded in "a few months" but he believed it would probably take nearer six months or possibly longer.

"The relationships are there, the sales, service, and logistics networks are there and we will bring a lot of benefits and value to the party. It just needs the right product portfolio to complement that," he said.

He wouldn't be drawn on the identity of the possible partner, but said that it wouldn't necessarily be just one and explained that the group was looking to integrate both inkjet and toner-based technologies into its portfolio.

"We have to find out what combination makes sense for our customers," Schreier added.

The manufacturer will focus on a "complete digital portfolio" and not just high-end production workhorses, although Schreier said that all of the machines would have to offer high image quality.

"The vast majority of our customers, around 60-70%, are already in digital, but it could be anything from a small Konica Minolta anywhere up to an iGen or HP Indigo or beyond. But within this range the vast majority are in the lower end," he said.

"The key element is that they [the digital presses] will have to be value-added by Heidelberg through our workflow, through our services and through our application knowhow."

The possibility of Heidelberg tying up with a digital vendor was first mooted by ex-Heidelberg sales chief Jürgen Rautert in an exclusive PrintWeek interview last April.

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