Chief executive Claus Bolza-Schünemann tempered the bad news with the good at the manufacturer’s 88th AGM this week (13 June) announcing the first global sale of its RotaJet 76 digital press, signed for by a German direct mail printer earlier this week. He added that a further 10 sales of the digital press were in the pipeline with three or four expected to be closed in the “next few weeks or months”.

Additionally he said that sales at recent exhibitions China Print and Printtek had been swift with more than 60 orders, mainly for Rapida 105 and 106s, as well as six Rapida 145s and 12 small-format Rapida 75s. But he said that slow demand for commercial and newspaper web presses meant that KBA’s web offset division would undergo further restructure.

Over the past four years KBA has reduced its workforce by 2,000 to 6,156, with 100 being shed in the past year, and further losses, understood by PrintWeek to be up to a few hundred, are likely to take place in the web offset division over the coming year.

Bolza-Schünemann said: “Management considers additional measures as necessary given the disappointing market situation for web presses and in some niche markets. In constructive talks with employee representatives, management strives to find responsible solutions.”

Bolza-Schünemann warned that rather than the moderate increase in group sales predicted earlier this year, the group now expected figures to be similar to the €1.3bn (£1.1bn) achieved in 2012.

After the first five months of 2013 group order intake was 25% down on the same period last year, which was boosted by Drupa sales, at €362m. Meanwhile an order backlog of €614.5m was 28% lower than last year’s figure and order and delivery postponements have left the firm €395m behind its sales target.

Half-year results will be published on 9 August.

Bolza-Schünemann said: “When looking at the industry situation, it must be noted that KBA is the only large press manufacturer to have remained in the black operationally and after interest for the fourth year in a row, despite considerable restructuring expenses and a substantial value adjustment to fixed assets in our sheetfed division.

“We know that there is room for improvement and we are pushing forward in many areas to increase profitability.”

Looking ahead, Bolza-Schünemann said the firm would be pursuing a “less volume-oriented business strategy” in its sheetfed division, referring to the 2.5% price hike that was implemented across its sheetfed presses in April in an effort to help the division return to consistent profit.

He also said that KBA would look to make more targeted acquisitions in “promising print segments”, such as the recent takeover of Italian press manufacturer Flexotecnica, as part of a diversification strategy into digital printing and packaging that had “helped us significantly during past crisis years”.

Following last year’s decision not to pay a dividend management proposed to pay shareholders a dividend of €0.40 per share.