Bertelsmann exits gravure with final Prinovis plant closure

Darryl Danielli
Monday, January 23, 2023

Prinovis is to wind down its last remaining print plant, heralding the swansong of gravure technology at its parent, German media giant Bertelsmann.

Structural decline and rising costs made Ahrensburg unviable
Structural decline and rising costs made Ahrensburg unviable

Prinovis management informed the 545-strong workforce at Prinovis Ahrensburg, near Hamburg, last Thursday that it would cease operations at the site by 31 January 2024.

Ulrich Cordes, managing director of Prinovis and CFO of Bertelsmann Printing Group, described the decision to close the loss-making site as a difficult but unavoidable due to market conditions.

The company blamed the structural decline in the European gravure printing market over the past decade driven by falling demand for high-volume magazines and catalogues.

Cordes added: “Beyond this, the repercussions of the pandemic and the enormous increase in paper and energy prices have caused our clients to repeatedly review their marketing activities over the past two years and often to switch to digital communication solutions."

The news follows the announcement last November that Prinovis will wind down its Liverpool site, signalling an end to publications gravure printing in the UK.

The Liverpool closure was similarly blamed on the acceleration of the decline in the gravure market since the pandemic. The circa 250-staff Liverpool factory is slated to cease operations at the end of June.

The Liverpool announcement itself came a year after Bertelsmann signalled the closure of its 470-staff Prinovis Dresden gravure operation, which ultimately shut down at the end of last year.

According to German media outlet NDR, while the Ahrensburg closure news didn’t come as a surprise to the site’s workforce, the union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (Ver.di) and the works council were reviewing their options, following the announcement, including possible industrial action.

However, in the closure statement Bertelsmann Printing Group CEO Dirk Kemmerer stressed that goal was to find “socially acceptable solutions” for the impacted staff to give “certainty about the conditions and further course of the process as quickly as possible”.

“The employees here in Ahrensburg have been doing excellent work for many years and have given their all for the company. I sincerely thank them for this,” he added.

“The fact that we nevertheless had to make this tough decision has nothing to do with their performance, but everything to do with the structural changes in the European market for gravure printing, and the grave consequences of the raw materials and energy crisis.”

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