A highly selective guest list of 650 customers, staff and partners watched Claus Bolza-Schünemann unveil a new corporate identity for the world’s second largest press manufacturer in Würzburg last week as KBA once again became Koenig & Bauer.
But taking a cue from popstar Prince, the key identifier will a specially designed ampersand glyph, a three-metre high representation of which now stands outside the factory. The symbol will be seen as a lapel badge and is already used on the company’s Twitter account. It sits between the names of the two engineers who founded the company 200 years ago, Fredrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer.
And while the new corporate identity is timed to mark the start of the company’s third century, it also marks the completion of a strategic change, focusing the business on packaging and industrial sectors rather than on newspapers and publication printing which have dominated for the majority of its two hundred years.
“We restructured the business in 2014,” says CFO Mathias Dähn. “We had to shed 1,500 jobs, organised into separate divisions with no cross subsidies and strong corporate governance.” A focus on 'profitability first' has worked. “We achieved the best result in the company’s history in 1999,” he says.
“We have changed over the last few years,” says Claus Bolza-Schünemann. “Now we have 63% share of the market for large format litho presses in packaging.” Packaging of almost all shades is now the focus for the future, and one that the company believes to be immune from digital substitution and which is growing at 4% a year.
As 70% of the revenues derive from packaging, this will give the company an inherent growth rate of 2.8%. It is of course aiming for more than this – “we have a track record of growing market share”, says Dähn. Additional revenue growth will come from further efficiency savings, operational improvement and of course from services.
As evidence Dähn points to a doubling of market share in flexo presses since the acquisition of Flexotecnica from 3% to 6%. A new management team installed last year will accelerate the growth in what is an expanding sector, however flexo has been highlighted as one of the areas where 2016 results were disappointing.
A Neo Evo flexo press will be one of three machines in a 2,100m2 packaging demonstration hall that has been completed at the Würzburg factory at a cost of €8 million. It will also house a CorruCut flexo corrugated press-die-cutter and a RotaJet inkjet press that is the first machine to sport the new corporate livery of dark grey using lighting to make the maker’s name stand out and vertical neon stripes to show the status of the machine. The plan is to roll out the livery in the run up to Drupa while company literature and the website are the first to adopt the new stylings.
The RotaJet is an entirely different proposition to most other inkjet web presses. It runs with a flying splicer (lifting the heads as the splice passes beneath) and configured for expansion in both the number of colours and width printed. The width will also mean that the RotaJet can be a 1:1 replacement for a Timson, using the same reel widths and finishing equipment to reduce the styles of paper that a publisher needs to manage.
The missing packaging press is the Varijet, a hybrid inkjet and offset press that was announced at Drupa last year. This belongs to the sheetfed operation based near Dresden where there are two prototypes. There is also a concept for what the press will look like in the livery it will don when shipped.
“We still have some homework to do because folding carton work is extremely quality demanding,” says Bolza-Schünemann. “The quality we reach today is not good enough for market. At the moment we want to avoid showing something to that markets which is not ready to be sold. We can’t say whether it will be ready in three months or another six months – but we don’t want to keep the market waiting for 6-7 years.”
He might also point to the new corporate slogan, introduced along with the Koenig & Bauer name to underline that the company is looking forward to the third century: “we’re on it”.
The presses will get a new livery as the new guise for Koenig & Bauer is rolled out across the portfolio. The names of the company's founders 200 years ago now appear on its latest inkjet press, the RotaJet.