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Kolbus exits ‘sunset’ bookbinding industry

Tuesday, 24 April 2018
By Print21

Kai Büntemeyer, managing partner of Kolbus, explained the company’s decision in January to sell its gluer binders and bookline business to Müller Martini, saying the market for bookbinding equipment is stagnating.

Kai Büntemeyer, Kolbus.

The manufacturer will now focus on packaging machinery, expanding its components business and relinquishing bookbinding to Müller Martini. According to Büntemeyer, Kolbus Group’s turnover, more than 135 million euro ($216.7 million AUD) in 2017, is expected to fall by about 15 percent following the sale – but there is little future in bookbinding, which he describes as a saturated ‘sunset industry’. “In contrast, we foresee double-digit growth rates in manufacturing custom machines for packaging, which is why in future we want to concentrate vigorously on packaging made of cardboard and paper – specifically on luxury packaging,” he said.

Büntemeyer is not optimistic about the future of paper and print technology, and believes cost pressures on manufacturers are less ‘hair-raising’ in the packaging industry. “It isn’t that we see no future for printing and paper technology but the growth forecasts are, to put it mildly, modest,” he said. “Market volume will remain huge and ensure good business in the future but I see a problem for us machine manufacturers in that the printing industry will continue to rationalise and will need to massively boost its productivity.”

Kolbus’ existing casemakers will form the ‘backbone’ of its new packaging range, but according to Büntemeyer, the company is still venturing into uncharted territory and will need to hit the ground running. “The packaging sector will feel like a start-up for the next three to four years. We will need to set up a product range quickly, act creatively and grow dynamically,” he said.

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