Koenig & Bauer: sheetfed 'has bucked industry trend'

Jo Francis
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Koenig & Bauer expects to break even in the current financial year, after filing 2020 results that were “significantly better than the industry average”.

Pleßke (far left) with the rest of the Koenig & Bauer board
Pleßke (far left) with the rest of the Koenig & Bauer board

The German press manufacturer has just filed year-end figures that were in line with the estimates released last month. 

Sales fell by 17.4% to just over €1bn (£862m) “despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic”, including travel restrictions that affected the group’s sales pipeline. 

Order intake fell by 14.6% to €975m. 

K&B said that it had outperformed its peers in terms of order intake, with the  German VDMA association reporting orders down 21.9% in the same period. 

Chief executive and board spokesman Dr Andreas Pleßke said the group’s Sheetfed division had “bucked the industry trend the most clearly, entering the new year with a good order intake”.

Sheetfed is K&B's biggest business unit. Sales in 2020 were €419.3m, down nearly 14% on the prior year. 

Some €58m in costs associated with its P24X performance improvement and efficiency programme helped to propel the group to a massive EBIT loss of €68m, compared to a €70m positive figure the prior year. 

The underlying EBIT loss, excluding one-offs, was €19m. 

The net loss for the year was €103m (2019 net profit: €52m).

K&B said it came close to breaking even in Q3, and was EBIT positive in Q4 before one-off costs of €6m. 

Pleßke said the business had “held up better in the difficult year of 2020 than our industry as a whole”, thanks to its broad product portfolio spanning sheetfed, digital, packaging, post-press, web offset and specialty areas such as metal can printing and security printing. 

"A large number of initiatives are being taken to further develop and systematically expand the proven broad product range in line with market requirements, digitise processes and service offerings and simultaneously reduce manufacturing costs," he said.

He also said that the “heavy” investments in its digital printing and corrugated business were beginning to pay off, although the start-up of the RotaJet for digital beverage carton printing at Tetra Pak had been delayed due to the pandemic. 

It has now sold six RotaJet systems for décor applications, and has developed the platform for flexible films “in cooperation with an outstanding international player in this field” with a press set to go into production with the partner this year. 

Beta testing of the B1 sheetfed VariJet 106, developed with partner Durst, will now begin this year. 

In Q4 2020 the first CorruFlex system for corrugated packaging was commissioned at THIMM in Romania. 

“This means that all three Corru models for direct corrugated-board printing have now been successfully placed on the market,” K&B stated. 

The group has also established a cross-functional sustainability department. K&B’s goal for 2021 is to use 100% green electricity.

For the current year K&B expects to break-even at the EBIT level, with sales growth of around 4%.

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