Müller Martini has bought Hunkeler, promising to continue “business as usual”, even to the extent of maintaining relationships with rivals.
The deal sees the Hunkeler family and Crédit Mutuel Equity selling all their shares to Müller Martini for an undisclosed purchase price, with Daniel Erni to continue to lead Hunkeler, “responsible for day-to-day business” from its current location in Wikon, Switzerland.
Importantly plans for the Hunkeler Innovationdays trade show – which has become a focus for the marketing of digital printing – are unchanged.
Both the companies – global market leaders in their respective niches – have postpress solutions pitched to personalised and short-run solutions, and the acquisition gives Müller Martini a developed product in the modular Starbook solution, rather than having to evolve its own.
In the newspaper area, Müller Martini is well established, primarily in the medium and low-volume part of the inserting process, progressing its customers into the more sophisticated bookbinding-related processes sometimes needed to extend plant capability.
For Hunkeler, it’s typically the need to get more from an inkjet web installation that might have been installed for publication work that drives involvement as far as “audience-of-one” work.
Undoubtedly the two have plenty to offer each other, and with the benefit of cultural similarities in an increasingly competitive market, and the two have been “very close” for many years.
The acquisition has brought memories of those early relationships: Hans Müller worked for Hunkeler (which had been established in 1922) as a mechanical engineer during World War II, before leaving to set up Hans Müller/Grapha in 1946.
Currently Müller Martini employs 1,300 worldwide, while Hunkeler has a staff of 280.
The acquisition is at family level, a “strategic transaction” in a constantly changing industry. MM chief executive Bruno Müller says combining “the key components” of the two companies will enable better innovation and service.
In a statement, the company says business “in the coming weeks” will be unchanged, with Erni still running Hunkeler, which stays in Wikon, with the same products, services, and staff.
“Adjustments will be worked out together and implemented in a controlled manner,” it says.
Pictured at the “handover” between families are (from left): Hunkeler president Stefan Hunkeler, delegate Michel Hunkeler, Bruno Müller, Müller Martini owner and board member Rudolf Müller, Daniel Erni, and Hunkeler patron Franz Hunkeler. They are pictured alongside the modular Starbook book solution.