In March 2020, with the onset of the pandemic in Germany, Apenberg & Partner had predicted an increased number of insolvencies for 2020 compared to 2019. In 2019, 91 insolvencies were recorded in the print and media industry; for 2020, 118 insolvencies were expected, but only 84 were actually filed. Now 104 insolvencies are expected for 2021. By way of comparison, there were as many as 233 insolvencies in the crisis year of 2009.
Due to the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency until the end of April 2021, it was unclear for a long time how hard the printing industry would be hit by pandemic-related closures. The fact that the deadline was extended several times meant that the forecasts were not accurate either. We must therefore continue to expect increased insolvencies in 2021. Almost every week you read about yet another closure of a traditional business on these catchy platforms, which of course is cause for concern.
However, are all these closures pandemic-related? On closer inspection, some businesses were already in trouble prior to Corona. The decline in printed newspapers, for example, caused problems for Johann Heider Druck & Verlag – yet this is a trend that has been observed for years. An early reorientation might have turned things around. The pandemic thus only accelerated the end by a little.
The sheetfed offset printer Griebsch & Rochol Druck, whose roots go back to 1661, was already in a restructuring process as it had already been struggling. A drop in sales of over 50% during the Corona crisis meant that the losses could no longer be absorbed. Here, too, it can be seen that the pandemic is increasingly leading to insolvencies where businesses already no longer had a secure economic footing.
The Brühlsche Universitätsdruckerei mainly produced travel and trade show catalogs. Since both sectors suffered massive losses as a result of Corona, dramatic falls in sales were not surprising and can therefore be attributed to the pandemic.
Ultimately, therefore, you have to look at all the businesses individually to find out the reason for the insolvency. Even before the pandemic, there were repeated closures for a variety of reasons. It is therefore not possible to make generalizations with these figures.
The fact that things can be done quite differently was demonstrated, for example, by Kartenmacherei at the beginning of the pandemic. CEO Patrick Leibold had reported that he, too, had lost orders overnight. But the team got together and developed new services that people would need in such an exceptional situation. Instead of wedding cards, the focus was unceremoniously adapted to the new needs of the customers. This, along with utilized potential savings and short-time work, actually developed the business in the long run.