Jump to content

Another one bites the dust!


mike hemsley
 Share

Recommended Posts

And there is more... but on the UK Lab front... From the BJP

Title: Hard times see two labs fold

Feature: news

Date: 13 December 2006

In a devastating week for the pro lab industry, two major London players have closed their doors for the last time.

Sky Imaging UK and Ceta both closed their operations on 01 December, following in the footsteps of Keishi Colour, which shut up shop in March.

Sky has gone into voluntary liquidation, although a skeleton staff, including managing director Mike Sherry, will remain to help customers with enquiries.

Sherry revealed to BJP that the decision to close had been made a couple of weeks earlier, and only after he had looked into the possibility of selling the company. He admitted: 'I have been trying to find a possible buyer for the business as I wanted to rescue something but, as director, I am responsible for my staff, and knowing what December is like for people, I didn't want to put them through another difficult month.'

All 15 members of staff have now been made redundant but Sherry adds that several staff members who had been providing analogue services left four to six weeks ago, when the service was no longer cost effective. He added: 'I want to thank to the staff because they have acted commendably, especially over the difficult past couple of weeks.'

Sky Imaging emerged in the spring of 2005 when Sky Photographic Services, one of London's oldest and best-known professional labs, went into administration (BJP, 13 April 2005). Sherry launched a new company, retaining Sky Photographic's staff and its central London location in Ramilles Street. However, the new venture also floundered. Sherry said: 'Profit margins just kept on getting tighter and the marketplace tougher. In the end, we just ran out of steam.'

In addition, Ceta, which was also based in Soho, has closed. It is mooted that this is connected to the move over to Metro Imaging by two key members of staff. Brothers Tony and Colin Windows now work from Metro Imaging's Soho branch. Tony told BJP: 'The owner of Ceta, Steve Kent, has decided to shut down. I don't think he wanted the hassle of finding new people. It's a shame, but these things happen. Trading conditions are extremely tough for everyone at the moment.'

On the same day as its competitors shut up shop, Metro Imaging closed its Chelsea branch. Operations had already been hugely scaled back, and so only one staff member was made redundant while a second is to move to the company's Soho branch. Metro Imaging managing director, Ben Richardson, told BJP: 'The Chelsea branch was not contributing a profit to the group and not covering its costs. There has been a real drop in the volume of film being sent for processing. The present levels are about 15% of what we used to be three years ago. The closure was something we knew was inevitable. The industry is in cataclysmic change and there will only be a few survivors.'

Richardson went on to refute rumours that Metro Imaging is to pull out of film processing altogether. He told BJP: 'We will still continue to process film while there is still film out there'.

Another London outfit, TapestryMM, has also made changes, pulling out of black-and-white film processing. Shea Kelly told BJP: 'The amount of business is so small that there's not enough work coming in to pay for the chemistry. Black-and-white processing is such a niche market now that only guys who work by themselves under railway arches can survive.' Kelly added that the decision was ultimately taken to allow expansion of the company's studio facilities. He continued that the move reflects a wider need for labs to adapt to the present climate tough climate. 'It is a difficult time in the industry, and it is a terrible shame as the guys at Ceta and Sky are our friends. But to quote Darwin, it's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent - it is the one that it is most adaptable to change.'

Nigel McNaught of Photo Marketing Association (PMA) UK reiterated this: 'London was over-served for general lab work. It's not any great surprise that the pro lab market has changed rapidly and that the work that the remaining labs do has changed. They have had to become more specialist and more niche to differentiate themselves from others.'

Source:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly the change in the pro lab sector has been 'egged' on by attitudes from both clients (having strangely lower quality expectations and expecting lower fees from the studio) and some 'photographers' willing to act solely as a 'shooter' and handing over a DVD of unprocessed Raw files to the client to sort out! I had an Ad agency tell me on Thursday that they thought all Photographers worked on this basis now - although when challenged could'nt actually give me any names!  I think we have all been swimming around the 'plug hole of life', splashing about to stay afloat....now the whirlpool beckons to suck us all down!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's important to recognise the reasons these operations have gone under and ensure our own businesses don't make the same mistakes.

The pro-lab sector has been declining for many years. First it was the minilabs eatinging into their work and now it's sign and display companies. I know how much large format inkjet we do - and that would have been going to a pro-lab only a few years ago.

Olan Mills was still operating like they did years ago. In an market that has changed hugely they stayed the same. With all those stores to support it's not surprising that it collapsed.

For those of us with minilabs we should be learning from this and adjusting our operations accordingly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the Pro Labs... Well, the silly thing that has happened, is we now have "professional" Photographers doing a lot of there printing *In House* Rather like it used to be 40 years back..

But 40 years back and with the introduction *Colour* the photographers soon realised that they were not experts, and they were spending to much time in the dark room.

Hence we saw the actual Birth of the Colour Pro Lab, often originating from a photographic studio.

What we are seeing is a case of history repeating.

Sadly many Pro Photographers are are *chums* with the lab, but if they can screw you, they will do so.. We, as mentioned above have *Pro* photographers, that think they are printers, but going by so many samples I have seen, the actual work they are producing us just crap in fact very crap...

This all may be a little like what we are seeing in the minilab market, where just a few years back, the consumer was/is doing home printing, but as time has gone on, the clever and wise consumer is now finding out that there local minilab, is cheaper, quicker and better quality than printing at home.. and boy they can also save so much time..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...