Doom, Gloom and Reality
With Agfa's new problems, Forte producing on an ad-hoc basis when they have sufficient orders paid for upfront. it's time to be realistic.
The whole photographic film & paper market is in the middle of massive downsizing particularly in professional markets and particularly B&W.
Agfa's problems are little to do with the B&W market, more to do with competing with Kodak, Noritsu and particularly Fuji in the highly lucretive photfinishing market supplying Minilabs and associated paper and chemistry. I know from experience here in the UK that Fuji are particularly aggresive in marketing and tying up exclusive minilab/paper/chemistry deals.
Forte must be having problems with their work force as they aren't in full time production, and their administrators don't appear to have yet made a decision about their long term re-structuring and future.
Ilford however stated quite clearly after their management buy out that they expected the B&W market to shrink a little further before levelling out and stabilising sometime around about 2006
We should remember that other companies also have spare capacity and Kentmere have entered the US market actually increasing their range to meet demand. Foma and EFKE are also looking to maintain production, and there are plants in Russia & China which I know companies like Fotoimpex are investigating.
So if Agfa went completely, or Forte ceased production there's plenty of companies who can fill their place in the market with the products we require.
It should also be remembered that we are all able to obtain a far greater variety of film & paper types compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
So it's time for reality to kick in there is over capacity so manufactures will go and our suppliers to become more resourceful in finding alternative manufacturers.
I'm with you Ian. Life goes on. Heck they still make bias-ply tires.
Well said Ian. My thoughts exactly put to words.
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Well, regarding your first point - that's just specualation. I'd say a more plausible explanation than workforce problems is that the administrators aren't securing sufficient funds to continue production at full song.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Ilford? Let's be realistic. What else would the management say to secure funds for a buyout? They're going to try to walk a fine line between having to guarantee their investors immediate return on investment and not painting a "doom and gloom" picture.
AgfaPhoto, however, was a shock. I would have expected that they would have secured substantial seed funding from Agfa as the formation of AgfaPhoto would have spared Agfa substantial charges in having to lay off their film unit's work force. That they did not secure siginificant funding or that they burned it off in such a short timeframe is very distressing.
As the Forte factory was closed and only effectively reopens for each production run those remaining staff have no secure employment at the current time.
Originally Posted by aldevo
Many of the problems with B&W papers etc is that shops, pro dealers and importers have drastically cut their stock levels, with only larger outlets having paper on the shelves in many cases. This caused the dramatic drop of factory output which hit Ilford and Forte, actual sales to photographers did not drop as fast or by anything like as much, but lack of supply on the shelves really does not help.
Ilford & Forte both had to stop their losses by only supplying to pre-paid order. So of course Forte's administrators don't have sufficient funding to produce materials for stock unless they secure substantial re-funding.
Raising funding in the UK is far easier than in Hungary and Ilfords marketing and sales team is far more experienced, I'm sure their market predictions are sound and of course they stand to gain the most in the B&W market if Agfa does cease trading.
Apart from Ferrania, (in administration), Agfa has for quite a while been loosing market share and most people in the industry were suprised it was Ilford that called in the Administrators last year and not Agfa.
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I wonder if lack of certainty in the acceptance of the EU constitution may have something to do with it. After all, investors don't invest, and employers don't hire in insecure environments. France's vote this weekend may produce interesting results.
Eastman Kodak just announced the closing of its new Brazil paper plant. The plant manufactures color and B&W papers. The reason given was the decline in conventional photography.
Where do I get bias ply tires?
They did announce a closure in Brazil, but I thought EK had two or three coating facilities in Brazil.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
Aldevo, I really don't know. I thought they had one. This one is specifically for paper, and the article I saw only mentioned color paper. I guess I got it wrong. I have B&W paper from Brazil but color paper from the US so that misled me.