“Holmen has listened to its customers”
“A couple of years ago, I told Holmen Paper that we’d never use a paper with brightness as low as 72 in our magazines. They listened to us, and they’ve now successfully launched Holmen VIEW with the higher brightness of 80,” says Joost Prins, Supply Chain Director at Sanoma Media Netherlands.
In recent months Sanoma Media has switched to Holmen VIEW 80 for three of its magazines: Panorama, AutoWeek and NieuweRevu. Because Sanoma is the largest magazine publisher in the Netherlands, this is an important step for Holmen VIEW in the demanding magazine market. More and more publishers are now realising that its special characteristics make the uncoated Holmen VIEW an alternative to coated paper.
“Holmen VIEW meets our quality criteria and is cost-effective too. We might be using Holmen VIEW in more magazines in the future,” says Joost Prins.
New markets and new media
Sanoma is much more than a magazine publisher, holding a leading position in the media market in the Netherlands and on its home turf in Finland. The group was formed in 1999 in a merger of three Finnish publishers. The move gave rise to swift expansion in new media areas and in new international markets. Today Sanoma’s operations span practically all forms of printed media, including newspapers, magazines, books and teaching materials, as well as TV, radio and a wide range of digital media.
The group’s strategy is a proactive one, as demonstrated by its purchase of the TV company SBS in June 2011, which saw it become one of the leading media companies in the Benelux countries overnight.
All choices are carefully considered
Of course, the cost-efficiency requirement not only applies to the content but to the entire chain, particularly the paper, printing and distribution. All magazines have to regularly cast a critical eye over their choice of paper and printing and try to find alternative solutions.
One of the jobs of the Supply Chain department in this process is to evaluate the new products launched on the printing and paper market. Joost Prins and his team have long been following Holmen Paper’s development of Holmen VIEW with interest. Initially they were doubtful that the paper’s brightness would be high enough, and they told Holmen’s representatives so.
Cooperation and innovation
Despite the tough market situation, several of Sanoma’s publications are proving extremely successful, which goes to show that the potential is there. If the company continues to pitch itself right in relation to consumers, costs 6 and the competition, Joost Prins is convinced that magazines will be a profitable business for Sanoma for the foreseeable future. However, he emphasises that there needs to be greater interaction between publishers, paper producers and printers. He takes the opportunity of praising Holmen for the development work it has put into Holmen VIEW.
“In our competition with other media, more of this kind of innovation work is required in the industry,” he says.
Focusing further on magazines
Combining its new TV business with Sanoma’s strong position in the magazine market was one of the fundamental ideas behind the SBS deal and that philosophy still stands. Although growth lies in TV and digital media, Sanoma’s management has made it clear that its magazine business must also remain viable.
“Our ambition is to meet the challenges of the market while constantly creating added value for our readers. However, we have to do this without increasing costs, and preferably by lowering them,” says Joost Prins.
He shows how tricky a balance this is to get right with one simple example: Today Sanoma Netherlands publishes about 75 titles and sells a total of approximately 125 million magazines per year, 25 years ago the publisher sold just as many magazines, but only had 20 titles.
“This means that today we have to produce four times as much editorial content to reach the same sales figures we had twenty-five years ago. You can understand that we need to be cost-efficient to make a profit,” says Joost Prins.
Higher brightness crucial
When Holmen Paper took their product development an extra step further and in October 2012 launched Holmen VIEW with a brightness of 80, they thought again. Sanoma’s specialists immediately recognised that the new, brighter paper could be an alternative to LWC, SC and MFC paper and subjected it to more trial print runs and evaluations.
The results exceeded expectations and have thus led to Panorama, AutoWeek and NieuweRevu switching to Holmen VIEW 80.
“We’re happy with it. The silky surface and high bulk give the publications a good feel and printing that makes the visuals stand out,” says Joost Prins.
“Of course the fact that with Holmen VIEW we can achieve these results at a lower cost than with coated papers is a big plus,” he continues. “The market is a tough one and new cost-effective products are welcome.”
The Sanoma Group was formed in 1999 in a merger between the Finnish companies WSOY, Sanoma and Helsinki Media Company. Today the business spans printed media such as newspapers, magazines, books, press distribution and teaching materials, but also TV, radio, video and extensive production of digital media. From Finland the business has expanded quickly with the Benelux countries, Russia and Eastern Europe as strong markets. The Sanoma Group has approximately 14 000 employees in 20 countries and had a turnover of EUR 2.4 billion in 2011.
The right concept for the right audience
Sales of single copies and subscriptions show differing figures and the Dutch magazine market is no exception. Advertising sales also fell in 2012 by an estimated 10–15 per cent. At the same time, Sanoma’s figures show that the success of the group’s most popular magazines is down to having the right concept. Joost Prins cites magazines such as Flow, Libelle, Margriet, Linda and Grazia as examples of publications that have really found a readership in the Netherlands. And then there’s the classic Donald Duck of course, which sells over 300 000 copies a week, completely independent of such trivialities as economic crises and recessions.
“The softness and the silky surface are extremely appealing”
“Holmen VIEW’s high bulk means that it feels like a paper with a significantly higher grammage. The end product is lighter, and our customers save money as a result of lower distribution costs,” says Vincent van den Hurk, sales director at Roto Smeets in the Netherlands.
Roto Smeets Group is a printing and media group with production facilities in the Netherlands and Hungary and sales offices in seven European countries. Its headquarters are in Deventer in the Netherlands.
Vincent van den Hurk points out that Holmen VIEW is a completely new type of paper with a combination of properties that have not previously been available in an uncoated paper.
“In addition to the usual measurable properties, the ‘silky‘ surface and readability are extremely appealing,” he says.
As a printer, new products such as this are naturally welcome, but they also require extra attention.
“We always need to be completely sure of a new paper’s printability and runnability before we recommend it to our customers. This is why we thoroughly tested Holmen VIEW. The help we then received from Holmen’s technicians meant a huge amount in terms of ensuring optimal quality and production.”
The fact that Holmen VIEW has now established its position as an alternative to SC paper and LWC is positive for the printing industry, according to Vincent van den Hurk.
“Today, all publishing companies need to look at their costs but still wish to maintain high quality in their magazines. For us as printers, being able to offer Holmen VIEW is then a major advantage.”
“The step up to brightness 80 was crucial. It turned Holmen VIEW into a real high end-paper. Now, it’s competing in a higher quality class,” he adds.
“The end result was an improved printed brochure that stood out from the crowd”
“Innovative strength is important with any supplier, and Holmen gets high marks in that area. They see things in a different way,” says Christopher Rigg, Vice President of International Procurement at Graphic Communications in Europe.
“I think that the paper industry has produced far too many similar variations on the theme of SC and LWC paper and the sector has perhaps become crowded. Holmen has taken an entirely different path. They have approached the generic product segments ‘from below’ and created a completely new type of approach, with special quality characteristics and at a truly competitive total cost.”
When Holmen VIEW was launched, however, Christopher was initially quite sceptical.
“Holmen VIEW is considerably bulkier and thicker than other papers of similar type, but it was soon apparent that high bulk can mean greater value for customers and a better brand experience for consumers.
“One of Graphic Communications’ largest customers has opted to use Holmen VIEW for their leisure brand.
“They wanted to refresh some of their brochures so we told them about Holmen VIEW. The softness and the silky surface really lift the images and this appealed to both the Design and Marketing Teams. The end result was an improved printed product that stood out from the crowd.”
Graphic Communications is part of Unisource Worldwide, one of the world’s biggest services firms in the paper, print and packaging sectors, with offices across Europe, Asia, Australia, North and Latin America. The Group’s customers use more than 3.5 million tonnes of paper annually and it also specialises in packaging design and products, logistics solutions, facility supplies, paper importing-exporting and converting.
“A mark of high quality”
“Positive reactions from customers confirm that Holmen VIEW is an extremely competitive alternative to both high brightness SC paper and LWC paper,” says Tommy Wiksand, sales and development director at Holmen Paper.
Initially it was mainly producers of newspaper supplements, direct mail and other advertising print that choose Holmen VIEW. Soon, however, catalogue producers also became aware of the new paper’s features – not least the cost benefits that could be achieved.
Since Holmen VIEW was relaunched in October 2012 with a higher brightness of 80, even more major magazine publishers have embraced the new paper.
“With such huge expectations in the magazine market when it comes to printability and image reproduction, the successes we’ve seen are a mark of Holmen VIEW’s high quality. And then there is the readability and the soft, silky feel, which readers love,” says Tommy Wiksand.
Orders for Holmen VIEW remain positive and the plan is to step up production considerably over the next few years. There will also be a continued focus on product development.
“Innovation and product development are a rolling process and we have several exciting projects in the pipeline. The strategy is to constantly try and develop new product variants that help customers to become even more cost-effective and thus more competitive,” states Tommy Wiksand.