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Agfa Consolidates Plate Production in Europe, To Open New Facility in China

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Press release from the issuing company

Mortsel, Belgium (November 7, 2001) - As a consequence of the fast introduction of Computer-to-Plate technology, Agfa is confronted with a decline in the demand for analogue printing plates in Europe. This contrasts with the situation in the Far East, where demand is stable. Therefore the Agfa-Gevaert Group intends to invest in a new production line in China, operational by mid 2003, that will produce printing plates for the Asian market. Furthermore, in order to improve its cost efficiency, Agfa intends to streamline its fragmented European printing plate manufacture. This restructuring on a European level could have an effect on approximately 400 jobs in the Leeds facility (UK). To reinforce its position in the graphic market, Agfa focuses on market segments with major growth potential, such as newspaper production and prepress for packaging as well as digital technologies for plate-making, proofing and workflow management. High-growth regions, such as the Far East will also be a major priority. This strategy fits in with the Horizon growth and efficiency plan launched on 27 September. In addition, Agfa needs to improve the profitability of its analogue plate lines, a mature business struggling with severe price erosion. "In light of the accelerated transition from analogue to digital processes, and the sharp decline in prices for analogue plates, we have decided on a major overhaul of our manufacturing strategy", says Marc Elsermans, General Manager of Agfa's Graphic Systems Business Group. The demand for analogue printing plates in Europe is declining more rapidly than expected. This contrasts with the situation in the Far East where demand is stable. The investment in a new production line in Wuxi (China) would improve our efficiency in plate manufacturing for the Asian markets. The new production line in Wuxi is expected to be operational by mid 2003. Agfa's printing plate manufacturing is fragmented as a result of the many acquisitions made in recent years. The remedy is twofold: a streamlined product portfolio and rationalised, highly efficient worldwide manufacturing. The various European plants will therefore specialise in well-defined product lines. As a result, the plant in Wiesbaden (Germany), where approximately half of Agfa's analogue and digital printing plates are currently produced, could take over analogue plate production for the European market from the Agfa site in Leeds (UK). The Leeds facility would, in turn, manufacture all substrate for the fast growing Lithostar digital plates. Approximately 400 jobs could be lost in the Leeds plant as a result of this reorganisation. Agfa is also continuing consolidation of its production of press room and process chemistry. The production of Margate (UK) may be transferred to Belgium in the second half of 2002. The adjustments to manufacturing capacity at Leeds together with the resulting redundancies should be phased over the next 15 months. The Management is now entering into full consultation with the employees likely to be involved, and their union and staff association. Agfa states that these measures are designed to safeguard and strengthen the company's printing plate business in the long term. About Agfa The Agfa-Gevaert Group is one of the world's leading imaging companies. Agfa develops, produces and sells analog and digital systems that are principally destined for the graphics industry, healthcare, non-destructive testing, micrography and cine film, as well as consumer-oriented photography. Agfa has its headquarters in Mortsel (Belgium), employs approximately 22,000 people in 40 countries and has 120 dealers throughout the world. Together, they achieved turnover of EUR 5.260 billion in 2000. Further information about Agfa and its products can be found at: www.agfa.com

 

 

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