Bertelsmann to merge print operations

Jo Francis
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bertelsmann is to create Europe’s biggest printing group by putting all its print operations under one umbrella.

The new Bertelsmann Printing Group will officially come into effect on 1 January 2016. The €1.7bn (£1.2bn) turnover division will encompass Be Printers and the print operations of Arvato including Mohn Media. Its operations across Europe and the US span gravure, web offset and book printing as well as mailing.

The group employs around 9,000 staff, and processes some 1.6m tonnes of paper per year. The biggest parts are the four Prinovis gravure factories in Germany and Liverpool (850,000 tonnes) and the huge Mohn Media web offset site in Gütersloh Germany (500,000 tonnes), while its German book printing operation GGP Media (100,000 tonnes) has been described as “the Clays of Germany”.

The recent move in which Prinovis became 100% owned by Bertelsmann is seen as the final piece in the jigsaw to create the new super-printer.

Bertelsmann Printing Group will be headed by joint chief executives Bertram Stausberg, previously CEO of Be Printers and Prinovis, and Axel Hentrei formerly CEO of Arvato Print Solutions. Its product range includes magazines, catalogues, brochures, books and directories.

In a statement, Hentrei and Stausberg described the move as “a logical step forward” in a changing print market. “Offset and gravure printing are increasingly converging. Now, under a shared organisational umbrella, our print businesses can act collaboratively and leverage synergies.”

While the unusual joint CEO appointment has raised eyebrows, a Bertelsmann spokesman told PrintWeek it was not merely designed to be an interim measure. “RTL Group, the broadcasting division of Bertelsmann, also has a co-CEO structure, which functions perfectly,” he said.

Richard Gray, managing director at the £63.8m-turnover Prinovis UK gravure site in Liverpool, said: “From my point-of-view it’s a very positive step. It shows the market the size, strength and depth of the Bertelsmann Printing Group.”

Media giant Bertelsmann owns book publisher Penguin Random House, magazine publisher Gruner & Jahr and music business BMG. It had worldwide sales of €16.7bn last year.

The group has previously refuted speculation that spinning off its print businesses into a separate organisation would be a prelude to a sale or IPO of the operation. It reiterated that print was a "core business" this week.

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