The past and future happenings in Germany…
“The printing centre of the Westfalen-Blatt in Bielefeld-Sennestadt, Germany will be closed on 31 July 2023,” reads a press release by the trade union Ver.di. The managing directors of the printing centre informed the works council and workforce of this decision on 4 July 2023. As per the German media platform Print.de , the closure will impact 54 employees.
The daily newspaper titles of the Westfalen-Blatt Group (Bielefeld, Herford County, Paderborn County, Höxter County, Gütersloh County and Minden-Lübbecke County) will be printed at the Westfälische Nachrichten printing plant, which belongs to the Aschendorff publishing house in Münster. Bielefeld and Münster are larger cities located in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The works council was “shocked” by the sudden closure and its short-term implementation. They will now initiate negotiations on behalf of the employees. According to Print.de, the union urged the company to collaborate with the works council in finding socially acceptable solutions for the affected employees. The management justifies the closure in Bielefeld-Sennestadt by stating that negotiations regarding a potential new print job have failed. “The printing centre is therefore no longer sufficiently utilised,” Print.de stated.
Westfalen-Blatt Vereinigte Zeitungsverlage GmbH & Co. KG is a subsidiary of Westfälische Medien Holding AG. The decision to withdraw printing orders for the Westfalen-Blatt titles from the Westfalen-Blatt printing faciltiy was made by the shareholders. Aschendorff-Verlag has been involved in the printing centre since 2019. The shareholders of the Aschendorff Group from Münster and the Westfalen-Blatt Group merged their media activities in Münsterland and East Westphalia on 1 January 2019 under the umbrella of Westfälische Medien Holding AG in Münster, according to Print.de.
Meanwhile, Druckhaus Waiblingen will cease all newspaper and commercial printing production by the end of 2023. According to Print.de, in Waiblingen (a county town close to Stuttgart), around 100 of the 120 employees will lose their jobs. The company confirmed this in a press release on 26 June 2023, after the move had already been communicated a few days earlier through its own daily newspapers.
According to the company, the shareholders of Druckhaus Waiblingen Remstal-Bote GmbH (DHW) have decided “for economic and personal reasons to relocate newspaper production to another site and to completely close the sheetfed printing division.” Due to the now sharply declining circulations of the total of five regional daily newspapers produced in Waiblingen, as well as the consequences of the Corona crisis, the supply bottlenecks and the extreme increase in material and energy costs, the shareholders believe that economically profitable production will no longer be possible in the future.
With its closure, the DHW “joins the long list of many newspaper printing houses in Germany that have closed down, thus confirming the enormous changes in the media world,” Print.de added.
Axel Springer’s offset printing plant in Ahrensburg will stop printing of its own newspapers and external newspapers on 31 July 2024. At the end of January, it was announced that the Bertelsmann subsidiary Prinovis would close its rotogravure printing plant in Ahrensburg on 31 January 2024. Then, at the beginning of April, the Springer Group also announced that it would cease operations at its offset printing plant in Ahrensburg.
Both Prinovis and Springer cited economic reasons for the decision. The printing plants in Ahrenburg (close to Hamburg – see photo above), which were opened in 1967 and 1984, were no longer profitable. Both plants were located on neighbouring properties and shared common supply lines. If the offset printing plant had continued to operate after the Prinovis closure, Axel Springer would have had to invest in new connections. 545 employees will be affected by the closure at Prinovis, and 120 at Springer, according to Hamburger Abendblatt.
The print shop produces regional and partial runs of Springer’s Bild, Bild am Sonntag, Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag. In addition, the Hamburger Abendblatt, which belongs to the Funke Media Group, and partial runs of the Süddeutsche Zeitung are printed there. Springer intends to distribute partial print runs to its own printing plants in Berlin-Spandau and Essen-Kettwig, according to a report in the Handelsblatt.
… and Austria
Herold Druck to cease operations at the end of this year. The discontinuation of Wiener Zeitung on 30 June 2023 is having a wider impact. Herold Druck und Verlag GmbH in Vienna, which has been printing Wiener Zeitung to date, will also have to cease operations at the end of 2023. Additionally, the contract for printing the free newspaper Heute will also be awarded to Mediaprint. The closure will affect 46 employees, according to the Austrian trade magazine Graphische Revue.
Herold Druck und Verlag GmbH in Vienna is part of P&V Holding AG, which generated sales of €110 million with a total of 514 employees. Of this, €14.3 million was generated by Herold Druckerei. In addition to newspaper printing, the holding company also covers other segments such as commercial printing and is represented by several specialist publishers in the medical and education sectors. However, these other P&V Holding business units are not affected by the closure of Herold Druck und Verlag GmbH, according to GR.
The Wiener Zeitung has now lost – after 320 years – its status as the world’s oldest daily print newspaper to the Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung. Nevertheless, Wiener Zeitung plans to continue its online presence and will publish a monthly print edition.