Fit@All is progressing well

For KBA 2014 was a year characterised by the realignment of our traditional commercial and newspaper press business to realistic future prospects as well as of our company to existing potential in growth markets, such as digital and packaging printing, under the working title Fit@All.

We have made very rapid progress with the most extensive restructuring project in the company’s recent history and we were pleased to see its positive results earlier than expected. More detailed figures will be announced with the publication of our consolidated financial statements for 2014 on 20 March. In light of the less dynamic market developments, massive interference to established processes and structures, and a painful rescaling of our capacities for all involved, positive figures for the first year of the implementation of such a comprehensive restructuring programme were by no means a matter of course.

However, they indicate that KBA is on the right track with Fit@All. We will push ahead with this consistently and I hope that in 2016, the year of Drupa, we will achieve our goal of an even more flexible and long-term profitable KBA Group.
Economic issues, turbulence on the financial and foreign exchange markets as well as global conflicts have made many investors in our industry uneasy. We felt sizeable effects of this on our order intake for commercial and newspaper web presses in 2014. Demand here fell sharply and is expected to fall still. This is why we bundled the significantly smaller business volume with web offset presses and our offerings for the growing inkjet printing market in one business unit with the goal of a sustainable outlook. The collaboration with Hewlett Packard (HP) to produce a web press for the digital corrugated printing segment is expected to contribute to positive sales and earnings. Moreover, we also anticipate a continued increase in profitability from the restructuring measures carried out in 2014 and those planned at our web press facilities.

Sales and incoming orders in our sheetfed offset segment in 2014 were roughly on par with the previous year boosted by our strong footing in folding carton printing and metal decorating. This is in addition to expansion in further growth segments of the packaging market initiated by our subsidiaries KBA-Flexotecnica and KBA-KAMMANN.

A new company structure with the parent, Koenig & Bauer, as a holding and legally autonomous operating business units is expected to contribute to us reaching our goals in the relevant market segments. The KBA AGM on 21 May 2015 will decide on the implementation of the new company structure. Internally we have been working in accordance with this new structure with the business areas sheetfed offset (KBA-Sheetfed Solutions), digital and web (KBA-Digital & Web Solutions), securities (KBA-NotaSys) and production (KBA Industrial Solutions) at our sites in Radebeul and Würzburg over the past few months. In the future special and niche markets served by our subsidiaries will be pooled together in one segment, Special.

We have learned that it is better to actively counter structural shifts in the print industry accelerated by changes in media consumption and new technology than simply hope for the revival of lost markets. The current somewhat fragile economic and political environment, and the fast pace of this shift make futurepredictions and long-term projections difficult and risky. Nevertheless, I am confident that the positive development of the KBA Group will continue in 2015 and that together with our dedicated customers and employees we will continue to press ahead with print in all of its facets.

Claus Bolza-Schünemann
president and CEO, Koenig & Bauer AG