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Kodak pulls the pin on Heidelberg plate deal

Tuesday, 25 March 2014
By Nicholas Pond

Kodak runs the play, ending its five-year Heidelberg plate deal to go direct. Local Kodak top brass Steve Venn reveals he made the call to cut ties with Heidelberg as a distributor to nail down a competitive edge for the business. The move is predicted to kick off a fierce price war among rival suppliers.

Speaking with Print21 Venn confirms the split is a local decision to deal directly with customers again. He says it signals the start of a growth phase for the business following its emergence from Chapter 11.

“Take control of our own destiny” – Steve Venn, managing director, Kodak

“The industry has gone through an enormous amount of consolidation and that makes things keener than ever for competitive positioning. Essentially our entire sheet-fed plate business was going through Heidelberg, and we wanted to get back in front of our customers. Take control of our own destiny.

“It makes Kodak more competitive, at a time when customers are under extreme price pressures in some cases. But it’s not just a question of plate price, we’re looking forward to talking with customers about total solutions, from plates, workflow, colour solutions right through to working with customers considering a transition to digital,” said Venn.

Kodak issued its termination notice to Heidelberg in early January 2014 with its exclusivity agreement officially coming to an end on July 1, and it’s been making good use of its time.

Venn says, “We’ve been very active, getting out there and talking with customers, signing new contracts. There’s a lot of confidence, and a lot of customers are coming back to us and saying they’re happy to be dealing directly. When July 1 rolls around we’ll be more than ready to go.”

From July 1 Heidelberg picks up a new plate deal with rival graphics supplier Fujifilm, leaving printers with a tough choice ahead. The two companies have recently signed off a global partnership to develop an inkjet printing platform, and it is understood that Heidelberg has already been distributing Fujifilm plates in Europe. Locally, Fujifilm will continue to supply its own customers directly.

Venn extends his thanks to the team at Heidelberg saying, “Our working relationship has been very good. It’s been right for what we needed at the time, but the industry has moved on and time’s change.”

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