Heidelberg Ramping Up for Debut of VLF Presses
PI: Your plant in China is now producing folding equipment and small-format Printmaster PM 52 presses for the local Chinese market. Do you see the day, though, where more manufacturing intended for export moves over there?
SCHREIER: We have no plans for export. That was always a very clear message to everyone that we will only manufacture in China for the local market. Why? There are approximately 100,000 print shops in China. They need entry-level equipment. We already have enough to do just to satisfy their needs for this entry-level equipment, which they can also buy from Chinese manufacturers.
We want to show these Chinese printers that they can start out with an entry-level product that produces good quality and then later order a bigger machine manufactured in Germany. This is also a good message for our employees in Germany. They completely support this approach—to us opening the door to smaller Chinese print shops. Those are the companies that will then come back and order bigger machines produced in Germany. That is our strategy. We don’t produce for exports; we produce for local needs.
PI: Heidelberg has enjoyed a very good balance sheet recently. You’re on a March 31st fiscal year that has just ended. What is your outlook for the next fiscal year, partly given fluctuating U.S. stock markets and predictions of an economic slowdown?
SCHREIER: We realize that we’re in a cyclical business. For us, as a machine manufacturer, the only target is to be prepared. We cannot predict the future, but we can be prepared for the future. At some point, there will be a downturn. I don’t think that his downturn will be in the next 24 months, but after that I don’t know. This is why we are preparing very well for a downturn. Not because we are producing bad products, and not because printers don’t want to produce print.