Luckily, all of the ilford products I buy are fresh.
The theory that the investors really were looking to sell off the land sounds a lot more plausible.
No inventory? OK, so a retailer wants the stuff and hasn't got it. He picks up the phone and orders it and once the factory has enough orders to do a run - they make one. Calumet, Freestyle, B&H, Fotoimpex call the shots here...there's no value whatsoever in Forte keeping inventory lying around. The stuff has pretty limited shelf life after all.
As B&W film and paper demand contineus to plunge (and it's clearly going to continue to plunge) - "manufacture to order" is the only chance the suppliers have.
And the only chance we have for that matter...
Unfortunately, manufacture to order is somewhat difficult, but not impossible. I agree though with what you say.
I also agree manufacture to order would be hard to accomplish.
I think intermittent runs would be hard enough as far as emulsion making and coating would go. But I could see other factors being a problem.
You don't want to be buying silver in anything other than extremely small or extremely large quantities. And by "extremely large" I'm talking about several million troy ounces a months as several central banks in Asia are doing. There are also operations in India that buy several tens of millions of ounces for jewelry making purposes (India has HUGE demand for silver during its wedding season).
If you are stuck purchasing silver in large, but not very large quantities - you don't want to be using Forints to do it.
I would expect that it would be extremely difficult to get film and paper bases manufactured for your operations with this sort of model. I could be wrong.
Manufacturers are going to have to find a way to minimize working capital - because nobody on the outside is going to finance its creation...
Since a machine must be threaded with paper or film support, and the entire track or alley, as we called it, can be up to a mile long, rethreading a machine and getting it up to speed takes a master roll and then some of support which cannot be used. Therefore each shutdown can use more than a blank master roll.
In addition, for uniformity, all products are blends of ingredients from the previous batch. No product that I worked on was the result of a single run, but rather was a blend of a blend of a blend going back to the first run of that particular emulsion.
BTW, it seems like you are agreeing 100% with you, right? Not that I mind, but I did get a laugh out of it.
I personally don't see the B&W market "continue to plunge" as I think it bottomed some time ago, and if anything, may rebound a slight bit as the increased popularity of photography in general begins to trickle back to the foundation. B&W hasn't been huge for a long time. It seems clear that Forte's woe's have to do with the closure of AGFA, and resulting B&W product bubble, and an outdated plant. Agfa's closure was not due to its B&W line, but rather the decline for its other products, and poor management. I think we are experiencing market corrections and consolidations that are normal to the current enviroment for B&W products, and that a stability will soon be reached, with slightly higher prices, and a bit less choice. I think this thread is important, but it has allot of unwarrented doom and gloom. I love Polywartone, but if I can't get it, I'll switch to something else. NBD. Color on the other hand, will continue to suffer beatings, excepting paper (lightjet etc.) and it will remain to be seen if there will be enough of a market for anyone but Fuji.
AgfaPhoto's final failure had little to do with bad management. AgfaPhoto was set up with the promise of seed capital (which later failed to materialize) so that its former parent could avoid the costs stemming from the lay off of its workforce.
Most of the seed capital failed to materialize. There was quite a scandal over this last fall, but it came to nothing.
I'm still skeptical about this so-called "product bubble". Show me all the Agfa paper still lying around? It's been unavailable in N. America since the summer of 2006. Yes, Forte did sell film but given their offerings and Agfa's - wouldn't you expect Ilford and Kodak to feel more of a pinch? Agfa didn't sell sheet film after all. And if you were using Fortepan 200/Bergger BRF 200 - would you really consider APX 100 a close replacement? I've used both and I certainly would not.
"Plunging" may be too strong of a word, but the demand is decreasing. And I don't see any upturn since environmental considerations are pretty much making the teaching of analog B&W skills impossible at the community level. At least in the USA.
I've yet to see anybody outift a home darkroom without having spent a couple years hanging out in community darkrooms. And these are disappearing fast. There's a reason why prices on enlargers and lenses are so cheap on eBay...
But, as you said, life goes on. I hope, Jim, that you are proven right.
This seems very reasonable to me, and I think (and hope) you're right. Just out of curiosity, is there any any synergy between the production of b&w and colour film that would make b&w more expensive to produce if colour were not around? Perhaps PE would know better than anyone.