Compelled to realign as the demand for printing ink declined by around 50% between 2016 and Q1 2023 in Europe
hubergroup, the International printing inks and chemicals specialist, is realigning for a rapidly changing market, aiming to develop the entire group of companies. These efficiency enhancements will affect the entire group in all its regions, though the goal is to lead it back to profitable growth in Central Europe. The realignment is guided by the ideas of reducing overcapacities, shortening delivery routes and operating close to the customer. This will require extensive process changes, which are unfortunately expected to result in the loss of about 300 jobs in Germany. The two German sites in Kirchheim and Celle will be retained.
The European market for print media printing ink has always been crucial for hubergroup. Unfortunately, due in a large part to the shift online this market declined by around 50 percent between 2016 and the first quarter of 2023. Growth in packaging printing inks in the same period was too low to offset the decline, meaning that successful optimization efforts already initiated by hubergroup were more than eaten up by it.
hubergroup's market environment has further been worsened by the multiple unforeseeable crises of recent years (pandemic, supply chain, Ukraine war, sanctions policy) and by unfavourable political conditions in Germany and Europe. Growth has also shifted from Europe to other markets, especially Asia, where, experts expect the printing inks market to grow by 5.2% per year up to 2031.
hubergroup is aware of its responsibility to those affected, some of whom have worked for the company for many years. The company is therefore entering consultations with the works council to try to carry out the layoffs responsibly within the group's economic means. It is in the interest of both the affected employees and the company to create clarity as quickly as possible, to reconcile interests and draw up a social plan.
Heiner Klokkers, hubergroup CEO, says of the realignment, "We know that this is serious news for those affected. However, we must also live up to our responsibility towards the entire group. hubergroup will adhere to its German roots and virtues. It will consistently exploit the advantages of its global positioning for the benefit of the entire group and thus also for the benefit of the employees remaining in Germany."
hubergroup's realignment will ultimately see it reduce its dependence on the declining printing ink sector and aim to transform itself into a chemicals company in the long term, focusing increasingly on raw materials for the chemicals industry and printing inks for the packaging industry. This will open up new growth opportunities for the group that were previously closed to it.
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