Elanders Print & Packaging has taken over the mass customization specialist, Schätzl Druck und Medien. As of July 6, 2021, the company from Donauwörth will join the Elanders Group. Elanders, one of the largest suppliers in industrial digital printing in Europe, is thus acquiring one of the German flagship companies when it comes to mass customization and print. Bernd Zipper had the opportunity to talk to Sven Burkhard, CEO of Elanders Print & Packaging, and Ulrich Schätzl, CEO of Schätzl Druck und Medien, regarding the background.
Bernd Zipper: Hello everyone, was this a friendly or unwelcome takeover?
Ulrich Schätzl: We feel like we’ve been taken over in a friendly way – or better, in a friendship like manner! It feels good. The entire process over the past few months has been very much characterized by us, i.e., Sven and I, joining forces and developing ideas.
Sven Burkhard: Not only that, we as Elanders, will become even more flexible with Uli’s team and this now gives us the opportunity to drive our growth strategy with an additional “speedboat” in the group. This in no way means that we are not already fast, but we can benefit from Schätzl’s experience, especially when it comes to smaller, individual orders and finishing.
Bernd Zipper: But if you look at the service portfolio of your companies, I notice some remarkable parallels. The idea suggests that Elanders has bought a competitor from the market. This is currently quite in vogue…
Sven Burkhard: Well, not really. Of course, we have encountered each other in competition. But at our plant in Waiblingen, we are set up for industrial inkjet printing and can process very large print batches excellently. Of course, we also do smaller runs there, also individually, but together with Schätzl, we can achieve points in the mass customization sector for B2B and B2B2C with individual single copies, and that complements our strategy perfectly. For example, it is conceivable that a publisher could order a small preliminary print run from us, which could be implemented by Schätzl and the large print run then produced in Waiblingen. We complement each other perfectly.
Bernd Zipper: Elanders is a corporation, Schätzl is a medium-sized company. How does that fit together?
Ulrich Schätzl: I can’t tell you yet. You certainly have to get used to each other. Our internal corporate culture is certainly different from that of our colleagues. But in the network with Elanders, the advantages and, above all, the joint clout absolutely outweighs the disadvantages. And if you want to work together, then you always have to adapt to each other.
Bernd Zipper: In recent years, you have consistently transformed Schätzl – from an offset printer to a specialist in digital printing or mass customization. A painful path, since you really turned the entire company upside down.
Ulrich Schätzl: Yes, but that was necessary. We had the choice of continuing to struggle as one of the many offset printers, which would certainly have worked. Or we could move into market segments where we can achieve different margins and we have a clear USP. That was our motivation. And it wasn’t all that wrong, because I hardly think we would have been attractive to Elanders as a normal, analog printer.
Bernd Zipper: But again, Sven – Schätzl doesn’t make anything that you couldn’t already produce yourselves, does it?
Sven Burkhard: We are already very good at print, and we are also very good at print procurement. The combination of print and logistics is what our large customers need. As Elanders, we produce long runs or – as in the photo book sector – many books of a similar design. Schätzl is so flexible, so automated and adjusted to smaller, highly individual runs, which complements our concept very well. Together, we are now represented in almost all segments of digital printing and can offer our print products for B2B and B2B2C in the shortest production time, regardless of the print run. There are not many who can serve this market so comprehensively. At the same time, we can now offer products in different price segments, which opens up new opportunities for publishers and for marketing in particular to rethink production. A lot will happen here, and we want to be among the first companies to “reinvent” the book market – in small and large print runs, produced quickly and in line with demand – in high quality and anywhere in the world. That is our vision.
Bernd Zipper: A few years ago, Elanders took over Schmid-Druck in Kaisheim, also in the Donauwörth region. Was the close proximity to the Elanders packaging producer another reason for this?
Sven Burkhard: Of course, we are always looking for synergies and the proximity makes us even more flexible. We are often really busy, especially in the run-up to Christmas – if there are colleagues nearby who can help out if necessary – that’s good. Waiblingen and Herrenberg, our other two locations, will not be neglected, everything complements each other well and we can leverage synergies together. Already today there are productions where we manufacture parts in Waiblingen and Kaisheim. In the future, we will have another production site with special, additional capabilities – the combination makes the difference. And there will also be further investments in Waiblingen, where there will be exciting developments in the near future.
Bernd Zipper: The press release says that Schätzl is an important building block for the future strategy of Elanders. What does the future of Elanders look like?
Sven Burkhard: Printing is changing. Run lengths are getting smaller. There is much more on-demand printing than there was a few years ago. We believed in this early on and have been offering our customers solutions for years on how they can print more on-demand. We will certainly continue to invest in the worldwide synchronization of our machinery and roll out a global production system – this is the only way we can offer our brand customers the same service worldwide. Schätzl plays a major role here, because the company has learned from experience that we must also be able to replicate worldwide. Moving towards mass customization and a top price/performance ratio. In my opinion, this is the only way to survive and grow in this hot market in the future.
Bernd Zipper: What is the new name of Schätzl Druck und Medien?
Ulrich Schätzl: Well, Schätzl Druck und Medien. Although we are now part of Elanders, we want to be present on the market as Schätzl. Similar to Schmid Druck, we are already part of the Group, but we can operate largely independently. And that is also important for the Schätzl employees. Through this move, we can now secure jobs and development opportunities in the long term, which is not a foregone conclusion in our market. Some printers wonder whether their jobs will still be there in a few years. In this respect, the takeover of Schätzl is an important step for everyone.
Bernd Zipper: One might have the feeling that Elanders is already participating in the concentration of the market. Are further acquisitions to be expected?
Sven Burkhard: Bernd, you know me. If something makes sense, if a healthy company is operating in a profitable niche and synergies can be clearly seen for us, then we will certainly not hesitate. But companies that are not profitable or companies that have slept through the topic of digital transformation are definitely not on our shopping list. Our focus is clearly profitable growth, and we do that together with my team, with my colleagues, here at Elanders.
Bernd Zipper: And the next steps? How does bringing a new company into the Elanders world work?
Sven Burkhard: First of all, each individual company, and this applies to all our companies, is capable of surviving on its own. So, we don’t have to rush into anything now, because as you can imagine, there is a lot of work to do now. I am not a fan of hectic measures, so we will take our time and work on our mass customization strategy together with Uli and his team.
Bernd Zipper: Thank you very much for the interview and God bless the arts!