Who will bet on offset?

Author:Penhallow, John

With elections coming up in France (municipal) and in Germany (regional), there is much talk about front-runners and who will gain if so-and-so pulls out. In the narrow web printing world, flexo and digital make the running, outdistancing all other technologies in both media coverage and sales. But offset is still a force to be reckoned with.

Mark Andy, Gallus and Nilpeter all offer a range of offset presses. They are coy about saying how many presses of each technology they sell, but at least some of their customers are going for offset. They include Lithographie Billet in France, which already runs flexo and digital presses, and has recently installed a Gallus RCS 430 offset line. The new press has six offset stations, with three that can be used for screen or flexo. It is Billet's first venture into rotary offset.

So, the question to answer is with all those flexo presses (Billet has four), why install a mainly offset line? Surely not to reduce investment--the new Gallus, with all its bells and whistles, cost a cool $2.2 million. CEO Arnold Deregnaucourt explains, "We already have a semi-rotary offset press, but the new Gallus runs twice as fast and is particularly good at high-speed printing on structured surfaces, and on things like PE 120 micron."

But pride of place, according to Deregnaucourt, must be given to the inline hot foil unit supplied by Pantec. "Now, in a single pass, we can print up to three different hot foils onto the same label. First trials of the new press show that it can achieve multiple hot foils at 120 fpm, or more than twice as fast as with the older press."

And as 30% of all French champagne bottles carry labels from Billet, the gain in productivity is significant.


Alone among the big market leaders, Herma is vertically integrated, making (mainly) labelstock, but it also has a strong presence in labeling equipment and labels. Financial figures just out show the Herma Group growing by around 1% in the 2019 financial year and increasing its sales to $410 million (EUR 364.4 million). Herma plans a "sporty plus" of 5% for 2020 but sees great uncertainties due to incalculable trade and global political risks.

A new coating plant is about to start operation--and this will create valuable capacities in the high-turnover self-adhesive material business. With the present world economic slowdown due to the coronavirus, Herma may need to trim its expectations...

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