Bertelsmann plans to close its Nuremberg printing site by April 30 2021 in order to reduce the “massive overcapacity” in gravure printing.
As part of a wider realignment of the Bertelsmann Printing Group (BPG), the management has decided to close the operation in a bid to “counteract the ongoing erosion of prices and the losses forecast for the gravure segment in the years ahead”.
The plans will affect around 670 staff at the printing plant and adhesive binding facilities in Nuremberg as well as circa 250 people employed on temporary or short-term work contracts.
Bertelsmann chairman and chief executive Thomas Rabe attributed the “difficult” decision to the significant decline in volumes and prices in 2018 but said it was “unavoidable if our overall printing business is to be future-proof”.
“We are aware of our great responsibility for the affected workers in Nuremberg, will stand by all obligations that arise from the job security agreement through 2020, and will finance the social plan from group funds,” he said.
“With the aim of negotiating a reconciliation of interests as soon as possible, we will now immediately enter into talks with the employee representatives.”
RTV Media Group and the MBS agency, two other BPG subsidiaries located in Nuremberg, are not affected by the closure plans, nor are the Prinovis sites in Ahrensburg and Dresden and the group’s offset printing plants in Gütersloh (Mohn Media), Pößneck (GGP Media) and Würzburg (Vogel Druck).
The wider BPG group also includes gravure printer Prinovis UK, which a spokesperson told PrintWeek “is unaffected by any of the changes”.
The spokesperson for the business, whose 16pp Goss M600A hybrid web offset press purchased from the shuttered G&H site went live last month, added the Nuremberg operation produces “a tiny amount of work” for the UK.
Elsewhere, Bertelsmann said collaboration between the individual BPG printing companies will be “significantly intensified”. Among other things, this will involve standardising organisational structures and pooling other functions such as IT and Controlling.
The group said this will enable it to create “the best possible conditions for consolidating its market-leading position in a challenging market environment, aligning itself even better to its customers’ requirements, and continuing to shape the transformation of the printing industry from a position of strength”.
“The realignment of our printing activities is our answer to the far-reaching changes in the printing industry,” said Rabe.
“As a leading provider in Europe, the Bertelsmann Printing Group is in a good position. However, megatrends like digitalisation and individualisation, as well as the increasing convergence of gravure and offset printing, present the printing industry with major challenges.
“In the past year, paper price increases also led to restraint on the part of many customers. We have already responded to these developments with various measures in the past few years and are now responding with an even stronger integration of our printing and direct marketing businesses. We expect this will lead to further improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.”
There will also be changes within BPG’s management team. Current chief executive Axel Hentrei will retire after nearly 30 years with the company while Dirk Kemmerer, a member of the BPG board since February 2017 and chief executive of Mohn Media and Digital Marketing, will take over as chief executive of BPG with immediate effect.