Impact of Corona-Crisis on printing industry : Roland Keppler, CEO of Onlineprinters, shares his key learnings

Roland Keppler, CEO of Online printers
I had the chance to interview in janvuary Mr. Roland Keppler, CEO of OnlinePrinters, one of the leaders in the online printing industry. Recently, he gently accepted to share with my blog’s followers some of his key learnings of the Corona-crisis. Here’s his original tribune :

The impact of the Corona-crisis on Onlineprinters

by Roland Keppler, CEO of Onlineprinters


When the first case of Corona-Virus or COVID19 in Germany occurred in the region of Munich in January this year, nobody ever thought, that this new kind of infection would start an epidemic with an never seen before impact on our social life and our economic systems worldwide. What we are experiencing right now, is a hard blow for many industries and very few business models are not severely affected by the situation. The printing industry and with it all online printers are suffering from reduced orders. You may ask: “How is Onlineprinters dealing with this situation and what are our key learnings?” The crisis has not reached its end yet. But, I can give you some insides, how our management team leads the company through this crisis and which incisive measures we drew at a very early stage, that brought us stabilisation and confidence to manage successfully through these turbulent times. In a nutshell our directive was to act fast, communicate clear and most important get prepared for the worst situation.

Now, more in particular here are our most important key learnings:


#1 Key Learning: open and frequent communication

In this time, the entire management team of Onlineprinters communicates very openly and frequently to all stakeholders and especially to our employees. We were and we are still very open to explain what we know and what we do not know. Building trust and keeping confidence high is key to get the acceptance. The same at the customer side: Some customers asked at a very early stage, if we were still able to produce or where their printed products came from. However, we always informed our employees first about our planned measures and only afterwards the public. We thereby give them the confidence, that the management team has everything under control.


# 2 Key Learning: protect your people

At a very early stage of the epidemic outbreak, we raised the awareness for hygiene measures and protected our production sites in Germany, UK, Denmark and Poland. From early March on, nobody from outside was allowed to enter our factories, not even our suppliers. Due to the present danger, we cancelled our open door day for our 800 employees in Germany only two weeks before the event, but early enough to avoid costs.


#3 Key Learning: cash is king

Costs is a very important keyword in this situation. At any time, we had to be certain, that our cash flow is under control. Parallel to our initiatives to secure the health of our staff members and to keep our production running, our controlling team secured our cashflow. For this purpose, they initiated a tight system of cost controlling, so we can ensure that our costs are under permanently review. At the moment, we face a kind of stabilization. But we must assume, that the crisis will not end in a few weeks. We keep on saving cash, but we will continue some projects, which will be relevant in the long term.


#4 Key Learning: every crisis has chances

Despite of social distancing and home office, the teams of Onlineprinters showed their team spirit and solidarity in the last months and their adaptability, which is one of the key elements to survive. In this time our product management developed new products, such as facial masks, face shields and several security products, e.g. for retailers and producing industries. We all helped to manage this new situation and our marketing team does a great job speaking to our customers, pushing our order income and gaining new customers.


#5 Key Learing 5: we want to say thank you

Last but not least, this situation gives us the great opportunity to say thank you to our loyal customers, to our staff members, who are prepared to help at any time they are needed, to our shareholders, who have faith in us, and to the public, which is interested in how Onlineprinters is dealing with this situation. To show our gratitude, we support several social and charitable initiatives. 

To be honest, we do not know, when we will face the end of this crises. We all have to learn each day to make the best of it and to stay in good spirits. This crises is also a good lection for leadership. I am sure we will leave this situation stronger than we entered it.


About Onlineprinters

The Onlineprinters Group is one of the leading online print shops in Europe. Employing a staff of more than 1,800, Onlineprinters produced 3.2 billion+ printed advertising products last year. The company sells more than 3,000 print products, including business cards, letterheads, flyers, catalogues, brochures, large-format advertising systems and more, to 1,000,000 customers in 30 European countries. Web shops available in 11 different languages allow customers to conveniently order printed products on the internet 24/7. Internationally, the provider of online print services is known under the brand name of Onlineprinters. Besides UK market leader Solopress and LaserTryk, the number one in the Scandinavian market, Spanish printer Copysell is a member of the Onlineprinters Group.


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