If major Polish printing companies previously were located around the cities of Cracow or Poznan, today they are everywhere from Bialystok in the northeast to Pila in the northwest and Opole in the southwest. The choice of the location is mainly an executive decision based on the hunt for cheaper labor and land as well as proximity to certain target markets, such as Germany, Scandinavia or Russia. All the same, you will find quality and service, regardless of the location. The following alphabetical review—which isn't rubber-stamped or endorsed by PW—represents only a small fraction of the Polish book printing industry. So use it as a starting point in your search for the right printer for your production needs. Good luck, or as they say in Polish, Powodzenia!

The Industry Players

In November 2001, the 134-year-old

W.L. Anczyca became a privately owned company under the Cracow-based investment group KCI. And changes since then have been aplenty. "We used to employ 1,500 people for three different printing techniques," says president Marta Urbanska. "Now our 120 personnel focus solely on offset printing." Book/catalogue production is Anczyca's core business, with most of its capacity dedicated to one-color printing. About 30% goes into the production of glossy coffee-table books. Thus far, its expertise has resulted in four Golden Griffin awards—for printing excellence—from the Polish Books Publishers Association and the Polish Chamber of Printing.

MAN Roland lines dominate its production floors, and production director Lucyna Ostrowska is most proud of her Roland 304HOB: "This machine is fully computerized for multicolor printing, and it also has data storage capability, which makes it best suited for reprints. It's also capable of handling the 53 cm x 74 cm format for paper or cardboard ranging from 55 to 300 gsm." Over in the bindery division, a new Kolbus Compacta 2041SC casing line is also fully computerized for maximum efficiency. A Kolbus DAS for book-cover production also stands nearby.

Export business has been growing since 2000 in Anczyca, but on a small scale and only to Austria. "Our sales are predominantly domestic. And much as we want to increase our exports, we have to invest in our facility first," says Urbanska. "But, in the long term, we definitely have to go after overseas business. We think that it would be more lucrative: Polish publishers by nature are rather conservative, placing print runs below 5,000 copies most of the time. It's also the most logical future direction, as competition for the local market is getting more and more intense." Presently, Anczyca churns out some 4.5 million copies annually and corners about 6% of the total Polish market.

Founded in 1944, BZGraf was a state-owned enterprise until its privatization in 2000. At its 230-strong modern facility populated by 4- and 2-color presses, the company churns out some 100 to 120 titles per month with an average print run of 3,000 to 5,000 copies. "Hardcovers take up 80% of our total capacity. Our core expertise lies in complex/integrated hardcover binding with multicolor printing," says company president Antonina Kuchlewska, pointing to a 1,130-page biochemistry textbook that sports a 6-cm spine. This company is a three-time Zloty Gryf (Golden Griffin) winner—in 2001, 2003 and 2004—and a 2004 Diamentowy Gryf (Diamond Griffin) winner for excellence in multicolor hardcovers with complex finishing/binding. Naturally, the Bureau of the President of Poland turns to BZGraf for its supply of albums that it presents to visiting dignitaries. The company also prints large-format DK Eyewitness Travel Guides as well as the Polish editions of National Geographic guidebooks.

At the front end, Kuchlewska says, "we accept either electronic files for CtP processing or films. Our present workflow is still about 50% analog." Quality-wise, the company is ISO9001:2000 certified and has an increasing amount of exports—which now account for 12% of its total revenue—to neighboring countries like Switzerland, Germany and Russia (mainly for the Bertelsmann Group) as well as the U.K. Perhaps the best indication that BZGraf has "arrived" in terms of quality is the winning of the European Medal, awarded by the European Integration Committee and Business Center, in November 2001 for a guidebook on Poland. "We are taking a very cautious investment stance because of the recent imposition of a 22% VAT. A resulting fall in book production has been detected since May. But with the EU integration and our rising exports, we simply cannot stop investing. In a few weeks, we'll have a new casing line installed. And in the first quarter of 2005, we'll have a new 4-color press coming in as well."

The sprawling factory complex of DNT used to house some 2,000 workers about 40 years ago. "Now we have 200 staff and over 2,500 sq. meters of vacant office floor—a direct impact of modern printing technology, which takes up less space but produces more," says president Andrzej Janicki. The facility boasts six sheetfed machines ranging from 2-color to 4-color, three web presses and six finishing/binding lines. "We brought in a brand-new MAN Roland R304 last year. And in September, a new integrated/complex hardcover line and a new sewing machine will be installed as well." Adds Janicki, "Right now, we produce 140,000 hardcovers per month. The new line will push that up to 300,000, in line with our projected 2004/2005 business expansion."

DNT currently outsources its prepress work to a partner studio. "We leave this complex process to the professionals to make sure we have the best output possible. And in terms of cash flow, it makes better sense to outsource. We have 90-day credit terms with the studio, whereas direct purchase of consumables—i.e., plates, chemicals—is on 30-day terms. With the 22% VAT, cash-flow management is crucial, especially in our industry, which is known for slow payment and sometimes nonpayment." That said, DNT has installed an extensive front-end system last January, complete with a wide-format proofer and a Harlequin 6.0 Class RIP. "It gives us better management of the electronic files received from our customers," he notes.

In the past few years, DNT has been exporting to countries like Denmark and the U.S. "Our clients include Geddes & Grosset—we printed their Webster's Dictionary last year—and others like Thomas Nelson, Longman and the Scandinavia Publishing House. One recent Thomas Nelson title—The Children's Bible Storybook—had a 20,000-copy full-color print run, with the bulk delivered to the U.S. and 3,000 to Denmark. Exports now account for about 15% of our business but contribute 50% to our total revenue." Not suprisingly, Janicki has hired English-speaking staff, such as export manager Anna Naruszko and DTP manager Grzegorz Kucharski, who are able to communicate efficiently with overseas customers.

It would be unthinkable for R.R. Donnelley—now the biggest name in the North American printing industry—to overlook Poland's potential as a print manufacturing/service hub for Central Europe. In fact, its move into the Polish market came early: in 1994, its first facility in Cracow opened for business. Soon, a premedia studio in Warsaw was in full swing, offering photography, design/creation, content management and Web-based solutions. It's a time-tested Donnelley formula that has proven unbeatable. The Cracow plant regularly produces 20 to 30 language versions of each product for its customers across Europe and outside. "The record is held by one catalogue from Carnival Cruise: 38 languages," says director of manufacturing and procurement William Baird.

"Magazine/periodical printing is our biggest segment at present. Advertising materials ranging from retail inserts to catalogues; directories come in second," says Baird. "Products which can be categorized as books—e.g., telephone directories, catalogues, educational materials—take up about 10% to 15% of our Cracow capacity. We do only softcovers, as there's no casing line in our facility." Its machinery line-up—catering for its main segments and biased toward Heidelberg—is impressive to say the least: five Sunday 2000, two M300, three M600, two M1000, one 64-page Goss and one 72-page Lithoman IV, accompanied by eight stitchers and five perfect-binding lines.

Recent estimates put Donnelley's share of the Polish magazine/periodical printing business in the range of 25% to 35%. Complementing that segment are its extensive fulfillment services, among the largest around. "We established cooperation with the U.K. Royal Mail, Poczta Polska and Deutsche Post for our mailing services a couple of years back," adds Baird. And following the recent merger with Moore Wallace, the company now has three additional production facilities in Europe and is focused on offering advanced solutions for direct mailing, short runs and digital printing.

Cheerful is the word to describe Druk-Intro. Its factory's exterior is coated in bright cobalt blue and sunny yellow, while its interior sports subtler hues with certain areas painted in colorful abstract slabs symbolizing books standing on shelves. The total package reflects its young and energetic management. Says company president Maciej Rogalski, "The present Druk-Intro is the result of a 1994 merger between a bindery—that's my previous company—and a printing house owned by my business partner, Jan Nowak. Once we merged, we set about getting the best machines in order to achieve maximum efficiency, high productivity and great quality."

This ISO9001:2000-certified factory boasts a Heidelberg-based press line-up: all Speedmasters in either B1 or B2 format. It has two new 8-color, one 5-color, one 4-color, two 2-color and one 1-color. "Our monthly capacity stands at 400,000 paperbacks and 350,000 hardbacks. And with our extensive binding expertise, naturally, hardcovers are our specialty," adds Rogalski. With a business that's 50% book-based—of which half is hardcover—this is one digital-savvy company. It has a Dainippon Screen CtP system and plans to get another CtP system soon.

Export sales have become a significant part of Druk-Intro's total revenue in recent years. In its showroom, PW finds titles such as Titian and Poster Collection (National Galleries of Scotland), Healthy Eating: Complete Cookery (StarFire, U.K.), Smile: A Helen Exley Giftbook (Exley Publications, U.K.) and illustrated thin-case children's titles such as the Happy Cat series. "As you can see, the U.K. is our major export market, and we print for their distribution back home as well as in their European market," Rogalski says.

A family-owned business, Interak exemplifies the new breed of Polish printing companies: unencumbered by historical baggage, modern facilities, 100% Polish. And it has come full circle in its evolution from a small printer to an advertising/creative services agency and now back to printing. "Throughout our short 15-year history, the printing part of the business had always played the supporting role to our advertising/agency business, never in the forefront. It wasn't until 1997 that we set about modernizing our printing facility," says owner Andrzej Krzewina. And he unveiled his company's printing comeback—called Interak 2005—at the 1999 Poligrafia exhibition in Poznan.

Its purpose-built facility—constructed with an eye on future expansion and the capacity to grow to 15,000 sq. meters—was completed in 2000. Then, in August 2001, its first planned investment rolled in: an 8-color Heidelberg SM102-8P+L+reel to sheet converter, which is still the only 8-color with inline coating in Poland. A slew of complementary equipment soon arrived, among them a Kolbus capable of 8,000 cycles per hour. Another 8-color Heidelberg was added last year. Currently, Interak's capacity stands at 400,000 full-color sheets per day and it offers PUR binding, Otabind and other binding methods favored by European companies. Says sales manager—and son of the owner—Bartosz Krzewina. "At the recent Drupa exhibition, we purchased a Creo system—the final step of our Interak 2005 vision. Presently, all our machines are fully calibrated using ICC profiles. We also have our own laboratory equipped with Gretag-Macbeth color measuring/calibration devices. But most importantly, our fully integrated management system from EFI and Heidelberg will be up and running by the end of this year."

Book printing takes up more than 40% of Interak's capacity. "About 15% of the books we print are exported to Germany, the U.K., Scandinavia and the U.S. German clients, especially, like to liaise with us," says Krzewina And no wonder: Interak's location in Czarnkow means it's geographically closer to Berlin—some 250 km. from the German border—than it is to Warsaw. It's also closer to the U.K. and Scandinavia, compared to other parts of Poland.


Opolgraf, almost 30% of its projects are in full color. Adds president Jerzy Nagorski, "Books take up 90% of our total capacity, so you could say that we specialize in book production." In order to provide such capacity, he has installed two 4-color sheetfed presses, two 2-color web presses and one 2-color sheetfed press. A secondhand casing line as well as a new folding machine were recently added to increase its bindery capacity. At the front-end, its CtP workflow based on Purup-Eskofot B1 ImageMaker receives electronic files from customers for preflighting.

Nagorski notes, "We have just started exporting to Germany, but we have been receiving inquiries from companies in the Netherlands and Belgium. And this indicates the future course for Opolgraf: export is the way to move forward, to survive the fierce domestic competition and to grow. We're definitely going to start promoting Opolgraf more aggressively to overseas companies and, for sure, we'll be at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair."

Says Nagorski, "Our EU accession and the resulting ease of border crossing has made printing in Poland even more attractive to our neighbors. Selling to North America, however, will continue to be a slow process, as Central Europe is always perceived as being politically and economically unstable. But given enough time and better understanding of the Polish printing industry, such skepticism will fade." So how does Opolgraf compete in a market dominated by bigwigs Winkowski, Poligrafia and R.R. Donnelley? "Our market niche is different: we offer very competitive full-color book printing of short to medium runs. In addition, our location in the southern town of Opole, where labor cost is lower than in any other parts of Poland, is most advantageous to our operation."

Established some 14 years ago, Perfekt is now wholly owned by Janusz Banasiewicz. Its two facilities—in Warsaw and Bialystok—employ 130 people, run in three shifts and achieved sales of $12 million last year. Its presses are purely Heidelberg—five Speedmasters, no less—with one 10-color, one 8-color and one 6-color. "At the recent Drupa fair, we purchased a new 8-color machine and two PP/PE heat-shrinkable foil-packing machines. We're now looking at acquiring a perfect-binding line to increase our finishing capacity and to grow 15% to 20% in terms of total production," says director of sales and production Karol Zaczek. "Our modern machinery lineup—none is older than four years—is one of our biggest strengths. The new technology also affords us shorter turnaround time."

Major Perfekt customers include Bertelsmann Polska, Longman and Avon (which prints its catalogues in 15 different languages). Zaczek explains, "This is where the 10-color press comes in handy. We use it mainly for commercial projects such as those from Avon, which require special colors, varnish or co-editions. But schoolbooks remain our core product, taking up 55% of our total capacity." One recent example is the lightweight printing of the 1,050-page two-color Longman Polish-English Dictionary, with a 6-cm. spine width. "We don't do much lightweight printing, but our machinery lineup is capable of handling color printing on 60 gsm," Zaczek notes. Perfekt's Topsetter CtP system has been up and running since 2002. This company was also the first Polish printer to start using CMS (color management system) and CIP3 interface. "About 95% of our clients opt for the digital workflow and, on the average, we produce 3,000 printing plates per month."

Zaczek buys paper from three different sources. "We get about 50 to 60 tons per month of offset paper and cardboard from Polish suppliers such as International Paper [Kwidzyn] and Arctic Paper [Kostrzyn]. For coated paper, we buy about 250 to 300 tons per month from Finland through M-Real. We also get additional stocks from local wholesalers. Some of our clients supply us with paper when placing orders, and this works very well, too," adds Zaczek, noting that paper prices have increased by about 5% to 7% in recent months.

With two state-of-the-art facilities in Kielce and Starachowice, the Poligrafia Group remains the only printing company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. It is now the third largest printer in Poland, and is helmed by company president Alex Walker—formerly CEO of R.R. Donnelley (U.K.) He was quick on the uptake when the Polish government set up the tax-free special economic zone in Starachowice in 2002. "This is a great place for setting up a manufacturing facility, as its unemployment rate is over 30% and its labor force is highly skilled and well educated," says Walker.

Over at Poligrafia's production floor, the machinery lineup is predominantly Heidelberg, with 10 web presses and four sheetfed machines. Meanwhile, its finishing/binding division has a total of three casing lines and six stitchers. The CreoScitex CtP system, which Walker purchased back in 2002, is being installed in the new plant. "We will be investing nearly $9.6 million in 2004, largely on the purchase of new web presses to replace some older ones. We also closed down nonperforming lines such as the paper-making/stationery division in order to focus on our core competencies of web and offset printing." And his plan is working wonders: sales turnover at Poligrafia topped $54 million in 2003, a 14% increase over the previous year.

Presently, the company's product mix is about 45% magazine/periodical and 40% commercial. "Export sales are still quite low at less than 5%; however, we plan to increase it to 15% by the end of 2005." With that in mind, Walker has set about implementing stringent quality control and customer-service procedures throughout the company. Both facilities are ISO9001 certified, with its quality assurance inspectors working around the clock. At the same time, its customer service personnel are on four-shift rotations to ensure clients are kept up-to-date on their projects. On the average, the 550-employee company produces well over 100 million copies per month.

So what does Walker think of Poland's future in the global print manufacturing landscape? "It has a strong niche in between low-cost China and high-priced North America/Western Europe," he maintains.

Located in the scenic town of Inowroclaw, Pozkal has come a long way since the day it was privatized in April 1996. Owner Tadeusz Chesy embarked on a massive modernization program, and barely a year later the company won the prestigious and much coveted contract to print the Polish Constitution. His focus then shifted to quality control, and ISO9001 certification soon followed in 2000. This 200-strong company was recently ISO14000-certified. Pozkal is no stranger to awards and accolades, either. "We won the first prize at Vidical—a contest for calendar printing—in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Then in 2002, we were named by Polish publishers as one of the best printers. And just recently we came in third at the Golden Griffin award for a one-color softcover title," says production director Artur Chesy, son of the owner.

Their machinery line-up is biased toward MAN Roland: three 5-color—one with a varnishing unit—and two 2-color. "We also have two web presses and complementary softback and case finishing lines. At the front end, our one-year-old Fuji Luxel 9000T CtP system is busy handling over 60% of our projects. In fact, we're considering purchasing another CtP system, as well as one 8-color press and additional binding units from the recent Drupa exhibition," says Chesy. "No purchase has been confirmed yet, but we definitely need to expand and add more capacity soon."

Presently, books make up over 80% of Pozkal's total production, half of which in full-color. And exports account for about 6% of its total revenue. "Our plan is to hit 10% this year and 15% next year. It's a start, but our exports are growing fast. In the past six months, we received orders from three new Danish publishers, and their total volume has exceeded our 2003 export sales already," adds Chesy, who also has several British and German clients. "We're getting quotation requests from publishers in Sweden, Finland and France, too." Recent projects handled by Pozkal include a full-color 356-page hardback and a one-color 240-page softback for a Danish and a British publisher, respectively.

Established in 1951,

Rzeszowskie Zgraf was privatized and became a joint-stock company with the State Treasury as its main shareholder four years ago. Today the company offers offset printing for products such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, coffee-table books, textbooks, calendars and advertising materials. Company president Iwona Lubecka says, "We specialize in hardcovers, providing services for complex and integrated binding and finishing. About 65% of our products are one-color and we're planning to develop our heat-set printing capabilities in the near future."

The result of a 1998 merger between Zaklady Graficzne Pila and Superkolor—and the ensuing joint-venture participation by American Quad/Graphics—Winkowski needs no introduction here. Nor does its namesake, company president Tadeusz Winkowski, who is its biggest shareholder. Six years on, Winkowski is acknowledged as the biggest printer in Poland and, according to PIRA, the ninth largest in Europe. It has 1,300 employees, four Sunday presses, 16 other web presses and four sheetfed presses supported by an enormous finishing facility. Its sheetfed lineup includes one KBA Rapida 162, which is the largest format available in Europe. Winkowski holds many firsts in Poland: it was the first to install a large-format Creo CtP system (in 1999), the first to install a 48-page heat-set Sunday Press M4000 and the first to offer extensive mailing/fulfillment services.

Says vice-president Dariusz Tomczak, "Right now, our product mix stands at 80% magazines/periodicals, 15% catalogues and the rest books. On the average, we produce some 800 million copies of magazines in a year, including editions of National Geographic and Newsweek. In terms of business profile, two-thirds of our production is geared toward domestic consumption. Exports—to about 14 countries—account for 25% of our total revenue. We have no case-binding lines, so we outsource case binding to several partner suppliers."

Unlike other Polish printers, Winkowski is not into schoolbook printing. "We find the current market for such projects not competitive or efficient for our press lineup. The average print run is now down to about 5,000 to 10,000 copies, with a minimum of 2,000. Five years ago, it would be in excess of 100,000. That said, we're more than capable of handling books, especially highly illustrated, limpbound children's books for the export market. The goal is to match our production line to the product to maximize its efficiency and capabilities," adds Tomczak.

Founded as Gruenauer's Printing House in 1806,

Zaklady Graficzne has been operating as a privately owned company for the past nine years. Its 130-person-strong facility in Bydgoszcz—about 250 km to the northwest of Warsaw—specializes in book production. President Mariusz Rozbicki says, "Our production is focused largely on schoolbooks, reference titles and dictionaries. Of course, we also do commercial projects, but these aren't a significant part of our operations. At present, about half of our projects are in full color, with the rest shared almost equally by one-color and two-color jobs. On the prepress side, we started collaborating with a studio located within our office premises early this year. We now offer CtP workflow on Fuji Luxel Vx9600." Meanwhile, Rozbicki is looking into increasing the company's back-end operations. "If everything goes according to schedule, we'll have a new threading line and one foil-packing machine within the next seven months."

Export sales started in 1999, with its first overseas order—a one-color law book—coming from the Czech Republic. "Early this year, we printed 10,000 copies of a full-color brochure for a Swedish publisher, and we're seeing increased interest from Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and the U.K. in recent months. Right now, our objective is to convert this interest into business." Adds Rozbicki, "Polish printers on the whole are very competitive; we have similar machines and technologies as printers in the western part of Europe, and we have the capacity to deliver. Best of all, we produce the goods at much lower costs in shorter turnaround times. The future of our industry—and of our company—looks very good!"

Supplying Poland: Heidelberg's StoryPrepress or postpress, sheetfed or web, black-and-white or multicolor, Heidelberg covers it all. And since the mid-1990s, Heidelberg Polska—with its Warsaw headquarters and branch offices in Poznan and Cracow—has been the biggest equipment/solutions supplier to the Polish printing industry.
Presently, the sheetfed offset segment is still its strongest. Says marketing director Tomasz Pawlicki, "In 2003, we installed 111 printing units, including 32 that were secondhand. The figure for the year before was more or less the same. And last year, of all the sheetfed units installed in Poland, almost 40% were from Heidelberg." Business is brisk, and during the recent Drupa exhibition, the company collected orders for dozens of printing units—including its brand-new Speedmaster XL105—as well as for finishing and prepress systems. "Poligrafia ordered an M600 C24 web for its Starachowice facility, and that's the third order for this particular model this year." In summary, Heidelberg has sold eight Sunday presses in Poland in the last six years and installed 17 out of 20 new web presses in the last three. On the prepress/CtP side, it covers more than 50% of the market.
While such figures would generally point to overcapacity, Pawlicki doesn't see it that way. He explains, "There are hundreds of small, family-owned printing facilities in Poland that supply mainly leaflets and brochures to the domestic market. And they're investing to improve their services and product quality. The bigger printing houses, meanwhile, are expanding and investing mainly to increase their export capacity and potential."
Managing director Krzysztof Pindral sees many strengths in the Polish printing industry. "First and foremost, three universities—in Lodz, Warsaw and Szczecin—and some 10 technical high schools provide the industry with over 100 highly trained graduates in printing technology every year. Secondly, we have modern and new printing facilities offering high-quality services. Thirdly, Poland's existing laws and regulations have maintained labor costs at reasonable levels, which in turn gives our printers a major competitive advantage in the European market."
But with the Polish printing industry so strongly linked to the country's general economic health, there are weaknesses as well. Early this year, the National Bank of Poland raised some concerns, such as labor market distortions, excessive market regulation stifling flexible supply adjustments, and a persistently high share of state ownership—which is prevalent in the printing as well as the publishing sectors. Says Pawlicki, "Our economy did slow down after a spurt of growth in the late 1990s, but in the first quarter of 2004, it grew some 6.9%, driven mainly by increased domestic consumption and net exports. This bodes well for the printing industry and is key to attracting more investments, both foreign and local." Meanwhile, he sees an urgent need to revamp transportation systems and customs/border legalities, both crucial in pushing export printing forward.
And, as in any print manufacturing conversation, reference to China is unavoidable. Says Pindral, "Cost-wise, Polish printers can't possibly beat their Chinese counterparts. But we have one main advantage in terms of supplying to Europe: Poland is nearer, therefore the turnaround time is shorter. And we're not going into the hand-assembly sector. We're competing on high-quality printing requiring fast delivery. But there is potential for hand-assembly—of a certain scale—since we do have a high level of unemployment in Poland."

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