Langley results: Manroland gears up for growing demand

Jo Francis
Monday, March 1, 2021

Langley Holdings has reported 2020 results for a “a year like no other”, while its press manufacturing subsidiary Manroland Sheetfed has “opened the taps” and returned to full production in anticipation of a post-Covid surge in demand.

Manroland Sheetfed: increase in projects, especially for large press sizes
Manroland Sheetfed: increase in projects, especially for large press sizes

Chairman Tony Langley said all of the group’s businesses were affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Group sales were down 6.5% at €766.8m (£662m) and profits more than halved, falling to €28.5m (2019: €59.9m). However, the group finished the year still with zero debt, and with a cash balance up €49.1m at €288m.

It also cancelled its dividend completely, which had been €90m the prior year. 

Sales at Manroland Sheetfed actually increased, from €203.5m to €214.7m, but orders dropped by 10.8% to €54.6m. 

“Although the factory under-recovered in 2020, the market organisation subsidiaries – numbering over 40 companies worldwide – made a combined positive contribution, albeit not enough to compensate the factory shortfall,” Langley stated. 

However, after implementing short-time working in March 2020, Manroland Sheetfed has now ramped up production in expectation of burgeoning demand for its latest Evolution range of sheetfed presses. 

Chief executive Rafael Peñuela Torres commented: “As in many other businesses our growth path until beginning of 2020 was disrupted by the pandemic. But finally we have observed during the last months in most of the countries a significantly increased number of projects for new machinery, especially in large size. 

“The level of new orders in the first weeks of 2021 confirms this change of trend in our industry. In order to anticipate a higher demand for our printing presses we are increasing with immediate effect our factory’s output to shorten lead times.”

During the year Langley Holdings also agreed a €19m deal to sell approximately 37 acres of surplus land adjacent to the Manroland factory in Offenbach, which is to be redeveloped as a data centre.

Langley Holdings also owns printing chemicals specialist Druck Chemie, which had “a very successful year” despite reduced printing industry demand, after it switched production to make hand sanitiser. Sales were effectively static at €59.4m (2019: €59.9m).

“The division more or less reached its revenue target and significantly overshot its profit target for the year… a very satisfactory result overall, thanks largely to adept lateral thinking by management,” Langley said. 

However, its UK operation, which has been persistently loss-making, “continued to underperform” and is now under review. Further details of the review were unavailable at the time of writing. 

In 2019 Druck Chemie UK lost €230,727 on sales of just under €1.5m. The prior year it lost €267,199 on sales of €1.6m. Separate figures for the business in 2020 are not filed as yet. 

Druck Chemie acquired HiTech Chemicals and BluePrint from Heidelberg at the end of last year in a €20.5m, cash deal. 

Langley expects the expanded business to generate sales of around €90m in future. 

Regarding the future outlook for the group, Langley said it had become apparent that the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic “will likely be with us for some time yet”, but he believed that with the vaccination roll-out underway “there is soon to be an economic pick-up as Covid liberation arrives”.

“Quite how sustainable this pick-up will be is another matter and only time will tell but whatever a post-Coronavirus future holds, I am confident that our businesses will adapt accordingly,” he said. 

“Coronavirus put to one side, they all still face their own unique challenges and always will. However, for the time being the group has so far successfully navigated the single most challenging economic and social phenomena in living memory. I expect that the future will be managed as adeptly.”

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