It was made known at the meeting that a new firm, Minilab Factory, had been formed in Germany and had purchased the rights to manufacture the Agfa d-lab and parts for worldwide distribution. The owners of Minilab Factory are Saal Manufacturing, a large refurbisher of minilabs, and Saxonia, a software firm that has written most of the software for the d-lab system. Both are German firms.
There were dealers from other countries also in attendance. Phil Gresham, an Australian owner, said the U.S. dealers had it easy compared to those in his country where the Agfa distributor went bankrupt and were not providing the business-like transition that U.S. dealers were enjoying from AgfaPhoto U.S.A.
The meeting seemed to defuse the pent-up anxiety over the Agfa situation as dealers were able to personally communicate with those who will be responsible for the future of the brand.
Photo-ME: Executive Smiling As Events Point To A Strong 2006
What would a manufacturer pay to have two competitors drop off the face of the earth and land a major mass merchantóall in one year? Priceless.
Thatís the enviable position of Nicholas Series, managing director of the KIS Photo-Me Group. The passing of Konica, the disarray of Agfa and the signing of an exclusive supply contract with CVS for 2006 can make a hero out of the boss and paint a rosy picture for him for the future. The stars are definitely in line for Nicholas.
Photo-Me is so bullish about its prospects that it held its first press conference ever at the PMA convention to beat its drums. What better time and place?
At the press event, Nicholas discussed, among other matters: the firmís new DKS 1770 digital minilab, which will be manufactured by Solectron in Singapore, as will soon the entire DKS line that currently comes from Poland; its new My Creativ album software; the expanded sales structure with a new Americas Region to be run by Kodak veteran Rafael Soltero who will work in conjunction with Digital Portal, Photo-Meís U.S. distributor in the U.S.
In a private meeting Nicholas mentioned that Kodak, for some years a large customer of KIS as it marketed the firmís System 89 digital labs in certain parts of the world (other than the U.S.), would no longer be selling minilabs. This impacts not only KIS but Noritsu, as well, as that firm supplied Kodak brand minilabs in large quantities.
The loss of the Kodak business, which represented about 20% of the Photo-Me volume, he expects, will be more than offset by the new opportunities available to Photo-Me.
Nicholas said he is committed to independent distributors in the various world markets. He claims to have already signed on up to 10 ex-Agfa distributors in the mid-East and Asia, and he anticipates adding ex-Konica distributors in Asia and Latin America. Europe is also being farmed for distributors looking to replace lost product lines.
As for the world market for minilabs, Nicholas said that unit sales are down considerably for the entire industry. What are your prospects for 2006? ďIt will be a better year than 2005. We will definitely gain market share.Ē
Paper Supplies: Dwindling Number of Paper Producers Could Lead to Price Increases
Silver halide photographic paper has never been much of a topic of conversation at PMA shows. Yes, there were always price deals floating around and whispers about who was paying what per square foot for which brand.
At this convention the subject of paper took on a new dimension as show-goers discussed what they see as a matter of concern: the reduced number of paper suppliers.