Handelsblatt Global, “Your top source on German business, finance and politics,” recently published a detailed feature on the methods European photofinishing giant Cewe Color made the transition from wholesale photofinisher to digital dynamo. The article describes how the company adapted to a market that wiped out 90 percent of the CEWE’s main business: printing photos from negatives.
“No one else in this industry adapted to digital change as radically and uncompromisingly as we did,” said CEO Christian Friege, 51, who has been running Cewe — Europe’s biggest photo services business — since last summer. “It’s a huge achievement by my predecessors without which our company would no longer exist today.”
The disruption caused by digital photography was so huge that the giants like Kodak were forced to file for bankruptcy protection. But Cewe has managed to thrive, proving that despite the digitization of photography, people still want tangible photo products they can touch and hold. The company prints some 6-million “photo books,” a photo album designed online, for its clients per year.
Part of the way Cewe adapted was through a series of acquisitions.
Cheerz was the latest in a series of acquisitions. In 2012, Cewe snapped up Saxoprint in Dresden, one of Europe’s most advanced offset printing companies. And in 2015, it acquired DeinDesign, which allows people to design their own phone cases. Then, in January, it gobbled up Berlin-based online printer Laserline, which focuses on commercial printing and advertising.
The article notes, since 2014, the company’s share price has doubled.
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