My Letter from Ilford chairman

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by Matt5791, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Recently I wrote to the management team at Ilford saying how pleased and impressed I was that they had managed to succeed with the management buyout.

    2 days later I received a personal response from Dr Philip Harris, the Chairman and Managing Director, thanking me for my letter.

    This was the bulk of the letter. I'm sure he would not mind me publishing it here.

    "It was with some trepidation that we embarked on the MBO [management buyout], and it was a tricky sale pitch explaining that we were forcasting in the region of a 20% decline in sales this year. Fortunately Ilford is a business that createsa great deal of goodwill with customers are we are fortunate to have some very loyal ones"
    "We now have been trading profitably for seven and one half month, and are very looking forward to the future. We have been incredibly fortunate in the news that Agfa Photo has slipped into receivership, and that Kodak has ceased manufacture of Black and White paper products, it must only be a matter of time before they pull out of film as well"

    I thought it was great that he had taken time out of what must be a very busy schedule to write personally.

    Hope this is of interest,
    Matt
     
  2. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Thanks for sharing this, Matt! That was cool that he took time to respond!
     
  3. david b

    david b Member

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    This is great news. Once again I say....support Ilford.
     
  4. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    They've got my support!!! Have for a long time and will in the future. Just wish they're prices had not jump so. They are still worth it however. Love'm
     
  5. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    If they become the "only" game in town, at least they will also be the "best" game in town. (IMHO of course)
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    ROTFLMAO

    I loved this part.
     
  7. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Well, at least he's honest... The competition dropping like flies trapped in a chameleon factory and others moving out of the business must be a godsend to Ilford however much some may make polite "tsk, tsk, what a pity..." noises... :wink:

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  8. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thanks for posting this.

    I will continue with my support of Ilford products, of course.
     
  9. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

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    I like Ilford and agree that we should support them, but let's not forget about some of the other great companies that are committed to film and paper like Kentmere, Oriental Seagull, Efke and others. These companies all make fine products - and some of them have been sponsers of APUG.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Just FYI, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Antonio Perez, current head of Eastman Kodak. He too said that he was trying to personally answer and address the concerns of customers like all of you who wrote Kodak concerned with their exit from the B&W paper arena. He is personally answering as many customer letters as his schedule will permit.

    This concern and communication is not unique to Ilford, and EK is fully aware at the highest level over the concerns generated by their actions. AAMOF, Kodak was losing a lot of money in the B&W paper area because notwithstanding a certain degree of customer loyalty, sales had dropped to a point where the losses were unsustainable and EK was forrced to leave the market. The drop in sales was far beyond that predicted and led directly to the problems at Agfa and Ilford as well as at Kodak.

    It is a real shame but a fact of the marketplace. He cited figures that were apalling. I was very sad over this discussion and it is one of the reasons that I have begun making emulsions in my own darkroom and readying myself to pass on a legacy to those APUG people interested in silver halide photography. His comments helped firm up my resolve to help conventional photography survive this current crisis.

    PE
     
  11. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I had a discussion last week with someone living in Rochester who is in a position to be extremely well informed about the state of things. He is convinced it is a matter of a few years if not months before silver paper is going to be gone. His reasoning is that apparently every paper manufacturer buys their baryta paper base from the same factory in Germany (schoeller), and that they are down to one line staying busy only a few days per month. If Schoeller decides to close this production line, bam!, no more paper, because no one will have the stock on which to coat their gelatin emulsions. Now, someone could always just coat on something like a COT320 or similar stock, but it will not have the same hard baryta 'look' that we have become accustomed to associating with silver gelatin printing. I hope he is wrong, but I have this uncomfortable feeling that the days of factory made silver gelatin paper are numbered. Thank goodness Hollywood still uses film as their distribution medium. That should keep film technology alive a little longer - I hope.
     
  12. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    This is exactly why I continue to support Ilford.

    Way to go!
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Clay, Kevin, yes they buy from Schoeller but I have personally talked to Schoeller representatives and they say that conventional photo paper outsells digital right now. Also, there are manufacturers in Eastern Europe and Russia making baryta papers.

    Color paper is selling very well, thank you, in spite of what is said above about conventional papers.

    I have sources for baryta paper that are quite good, and hope to be able to use it for quite some time. I also have formulas for baryta paper and can make my own if needed, so nothing will 'vanish' from the marketplace.

    Remember this, baryta paper accounts for less than 50% of the market for conventional anyhow. Most of it is RC with titanox. Most of it is color. Most of it is double weight.

    So, the first to vanish is SW FB. Azo is an example. Yet if needed, I can still find SW FB Baryta. Hard but not impossible. And, as I said in my last post, it has not vanished, there are Kentmere, Ilford, EFKE and well, I make my own Azo and an equivalent of Kodabromide. So, it lives. It will continue to live. Doom and gloom will not help. Optimizm, commitment and hard work will. Are you all up to it? Or will you LET it die?

    PE
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Clay, btw, I hope that your 'informant' had a chance to talk to Mr. Perez. I think that Mr. Perez is pretty well informed and I was impressed with his forthcoming honest nature.

    PE
     
  16. jandc

    jandc Member

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    Well said!.

    This is the same chicken little doom and gloom we went through last year when Forte and Ilford went into bankruptcy and everyone rushed to buy freezers for a lifetime supply of film.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    J&C, I commend you as one of the finest suppliers of conventional photo materials. My Kudos to you for your efforts to stand behind conventional photo products.

    Keep up the good work.

    We cannot be everything to everyone, but we can do as good a job as possible to the broadest market possible. It is good to see people trying out there.

    Thanks.

    PE
     
  18. Flauvius

    Flauvius Subscriber

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    AZO / Replacemen Printing Papers

    This is addressed to the photo community in general, and to Photo Mechanic in general.

    Namely, if SW FB "AZO" printing papers are relative easy to produce, why is it that no major photographic supplier - Illford, J&C, Kentmere, or Calumet - has seized the opportunity to produce a silver chloride "AZO" type of printing paper? Indeed, given that contact printing papers can be used by all manner of photogrpahers and related artists; what financial or govermental "interests" would prefer - and are able to cause - contact printing to become extinct?

    Regards,

    Flauvius
     
  19. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Because the market is too small compared to that of people using VC double weight paper. VC and graded papers are usable both for enlarging as well as contact printing. Silver chloride papers can only be used for contact printing unless you are willing to shell out a couple of thou on a special head.
     
  20. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    The Ilford MBO was no doubt a very well timed move by the interested parties. I'll bet that predicted 20% decline in sales will actually be a 40% or more INCREASE in sales for Ilford (film and paper) now that Kodak has quit making paper and Agfa and gone belly-up altogether. It's not surprising that Ilford is the last of the big three to remain standing in the paper side of the business- it's a better product than either Kodak or Agfa produced. But the fact remains, Ilford's survival will not be a cake-walk. I'm still considering buying a large freezer.
     
  21. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Well, that is good to know. I certainly hope you are correct and we will be able to get it for a long time. Actually, the Kodak decision on black and white did not really surprise me. Just anecdotally, I knew ran into very few people who used Kodak B&W paper regularly. The only 'name' Kodak paper user I was aware of was John Sexton.

    Has anything more come of the baryta coated COT320 co-op?

     
  22. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I still think freezers are a reasonable precaution as long as you do some 'stock management' and use the older stuff first. I don't think we are going to get any warning about a product's demise. When you do, it will be too late.
     
  23. jandc

    jandc Member

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    I'm holding a print made on single weight silver chloride contact paper that is not AZO as I write this. When the Kodak AZO runs out the replacement will be there. The funny thing is that it's not coming from one of the big names like Ilford or Kentmere who wouldn't even look at something this specialized. To those that preach put all your eggs in one basket by supporting only one manufacturer all I can tell you is that your choices would be pretty slim if the markets actually worked this way.
     
  24. Brac

    Brac Member

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    I think you're being a little unkind to Kentmere who as a small independent company (in the UK) will consider unusual items, for examplee in recent years they have produced a run of printing-out paper which is hardly a mass seller.
     
  25. jandc

    jandc Member

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    They produce it because the production is pre purchased and doesn't require them to do anything other than make the run. No risk at all for them. This is different than producing something and putting it on the market through your regular dealer network and taking the risks assocoated with marketing a new product.
     
  26. Flauvius

    Flauvius Subscriber

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    There are at least three factors that objectively should cause the market for silver chloride pritning to be far larger than the present market for projection printing papers.

    First, large and ultra-larger format photographers have become a major - and quite possibly the dominant - segment of the remaining practioners of analogue photography. Second, in this era in which ever limited disposable "home-space" to store an enlarger and related photorgaphic equipment has become an issue, contact prints with their unsurpassed gradation of tone and non-existence of grain present the definitive photographic fine art stanrdards, that for many criticial black and white photogrpahers, no other printing process can equal.

    As such, the claim that the market for silver chloride papers is - or in the near future will continue to be - too small for commerical production warrants serious reconsideration. Indeed, in light of J&C Photo's post in this thread - as to the apparent existence of a non-Kodak AZO - reconsideration of the coventional arguments which seek to explain and justify the present non-aviablity of silver chloride pritning papers other than Kodak's AZO is long overdue.

    Regards,

    Flauvius
    .