The first sizeable offset press manufacturer files for bankruptcy

Ralf Schlozer
Jan 17, 2011

The downturn in offset press sales has claimed its most prominent victim so far. While several finishing and press component suppliers have folded in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Shinohara is the most prominent press manufacturer to file for bankruptcy protection so far.

With debts of over €70 million and revenues down to €20 million in the 2010 business year, Shinohara Co. Ltd. filed for bankruptcy protection last week on January 11th. This Japanese civil law filing is similar to a U.S. Chapter 11th. Shinohara’s sales dropped drastically in their past fiscal year from €45 million (5 billion Yen) in 2009 to €20 million (2.2 billion Yen) in 2010.

Shinohara has had quite a history in printing press manufacturing. The company was founded in 1919 and in 1948 moved into manufacturing of letterpress machines. Today the company’s focus has been on mid-size sheet-fed offset presses. Shinohara was mainly active in Japan, the United States, and selected countries in Europe.

According to the president Mikio Shinohara the company continues to manufacture and sell and support its products as usual. He pledges that Shinohara will do its ‘utmost to achieve a corporate revival.’ However a restructuring will be inevitable and will possibly end in a sale of assets. The market that Shinohara is in (small to mid-size sheet-fed offset presses) is one of the most competitive markets in the graphic arts, with a couple of large incumbents and some newcomers from China.

While the financial crisis can be blamed for the sharp decline in Shinohara’s revenues leading to this bankruptcy filing, the real underlying factor is the structural change in the graphic arts industry. While overall print volumes are stagnating due to the competition from e-media, offset printing as a process is losing share to digital print. Although this is a gradual process, the recent introductions of high speed inkjet presses are accelerating that trend. And while the pie for offset printing is shrinking, presses are constantly improving in productivity. As a result fewer presses are needed. It is very likely that we are only seeing the start of consolidation in offset press suppliers here.

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