Demand for Rapidas Soars among East European Commercial and Packaging Printers
The Russian Federation, followed by Ukraine, is the biggest market for sheetfed offset presses in the CIS. There are two main reasons: a lack of investment over the past few years has meant that existing equipment now badly needs upgrading, while a lot of private print enterprises have been set up and big combines privatised or listed on the stock exchange. This is driving a demand for new pre-press, press and post-press technology as companies gear up for a market economy.
KBA’s Radebeul plant has provided active support for some years, e.g. in the form of courses for executives from privatised and state printing plants. Each course is tailored to the needs of the participants. A few years ago the market economy, marketing and human resources management were central themes, now the emphasis is on processes and technology, in other words much the same as for participants from other countries.
During this economic transition in Eastern Europe KBA has steadily expanded its sales and service network in Russia. Here its priority is not just to sell new presses but to take the red tape out of spare-parts sales and to provide maintenance services for the huge number of vintage Planeta presses still in operation there. It now has highly-trained service teams – both for emergency response and scheduled maintenance – in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev, and in the individual republics extending to Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Visa-free passage among the CIS states facilitates co-ordination.
Driven by political change, goods procurement has gradually shifted way from the centre to import/export firms. Nowadays, capital investment is negotiated directly between the end user and the supplier. Guarantees by the state or the relevant authority have been succeeded by private finance, with funding models such as leasing becoming more common.
Rapidas of all Sizes for all Applications
Previously, most of the presses ordered in the CIS were relatively basic, both from the number of printing units and the level of automation. Now printers are going for cutting-edge technology. ZAO Lunapak (Alef) in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine), for example, recently pressed the button on one of the most automated sheetfed offset presses that KBA offers – a six-unit Rapida 162 size 7 press with two coaters and pile logistics – which prints and inline coats packaging for soap powder etc. With its high-tech pre-press and mailroom systems (Bobst die cutter) ZAO Lunapak can stand comparison with any foreign counterpart. Purt in Moscow runs a four-colour Rapida 142 packaging press with coater. At Kvadra Pack in Riga a six-colour Rapida 105 with two coaters and dryers prints high-grade packaging for the confectionery trade. One of the biggest private packaging printing firms in Russia is Poligrafoformlenie in St. Petersburg. Here, too, the press room boasts cutting-edge KBA sheetfed offset technology in the form of a five- and a six-colour Rapida 105 press with coater and delivery extension, plus a six-colour version with two coaters.
Moscow Textbooks, a specialist printer of books and all kinds of commercials, looks back on a long association with KBA during which it has installed Rapida 72, Rapida 74, Rapida 104 and Rapida 105 press lines. The company’s reference products include a sumptuous two-volume set commemorating Moscow’s 800th jubilee. Ivan Fyodorov in St. Petersburg, a publishing house that has taken over a printing plant, runs a number of Rapida 105 presses. Two other publishing-cum-printing firms – a combine, Poligraphic in Tver, and Krassnyi Proletarii in Moscow – operate large-format Rapida 130s, a press type whose popularity is growing thanks to its compliance with the GOST norms for book production in Russia.
CIS a Key Growth Market
Since 1999 KBA’s sheetfed offset sales to the CIS have increased eightfold. This year KBA will ship four times as many sheetfed offset presses to Russia as in 1999. In Ukraine it accounts for some 80 per cent of all imported half- to large-format sheetfed offset presses. Central Asia and Kazakhstan have also seen a big jump in investment, though from a smaller base. Following a slump in the early nineties, KBA’s press sales to the CIS have regained the high level that its Radebeul plant boasted under the old socialist regime, before the Wall fell. KBA estimates that, along with China, the CIS will become one of its biggest growth markets in the next few years.
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