Substantial new business wins at Prinovis UK have helped Bertelsmann Printing Group post strong inaugural half-year figures.
Bertelsmann decided to combine its global gravure and offset printing operations into Bertelsmann Printing Group last year, with the new divisional structure taking effect from 1 January.
Sales at the print wing were down 5.3% to €774m (£657m) in the six months to 30 June, with the drop largely attributed to the sale of its Spanish operations to Wyndeham Group owner Walstead last May. Like-for-like sales were “roughly on par with the previous year” the group said.
EBITDA jumped by 17.5% to €47m. Bertelsmann cited a combination of improved capacity utilisation and successful cost-cutting as being behind the improvement.
The Liverpool gravure site picked up a huge amount of additional work – understood to be around 65,000 tonnes per annum – following the collapse of Polestar in April.
“Prinovis UK is delighted to have won significant new business in the first half of 2016,” UK managing director Richard Gray told PrintWeek.
“This, in addition to the continued support of our other UK-based clients has substantially improved capacity utilisation in both the Liverpool plant and our sister businesses in Germany.”
Newspaper supplements for DMG Media and Telegraph Media Group were among the work that relocated to Liverpool from Polestar’s stricken Sheffield site, which subsequently closed down.
Prinovis is also printing The Sun’s new monthly movie magazine, Popcorn.
The additional tonnage represents a near-50% increase on the 142,000 tonnes produced by the plant in 2014. Figures for 2015 will not be filed until later in the year.
Gray said the firm had also picked up additional volume from the UK retail and mail order sector.
“We continue to believe in the value quality printing can bring to all our customers,” he added.
Bertelsmann Printing Group employs around 9,000 staff, and processes circa 1.6 million tonnes of paper per year. The biggest operations within the division are the four Prinovis gravure factories (Liverpool plus three sites in Germany), the giant Mohn Media web offset site in Gütersloh Germany, and book printing operation GGP Media, also in Germany.
The overall Bertelsmann Group posted record operating profits for the period. Sales were flat at €8bn, but operating EBITDA of €1.11bn was at “a record level”.
Chairman and chief executive Thomas Rabe said there had been positive development across the group’s eight divisions, which include book publishing giant Penguin Random House, magazine publisher Gruner & Jahr and broadcaster RTL: “The best operating result in Bertelsmann’s history, the high profitability of our businesses, and significantly improved group profit of nearly a half-billion euros gives us confidence for the full year,” he stated.
Penguin Random House was boosted by the soaraway success of novels by Paula Hawkins and Jojo Moyes, with a further 2.2 million copies of Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train sold during the period, and 3.8 million of Me Before You and After You by Moyes.
Rabe also told Reuters that the Brexit vote would not hold back investment plans for the UK. "We consider Great Britain as an open market and one of our most important markets. We want to develop our position further in Great Britain and continue to invest," he said.