Katre Savi has been the chief executive of the Association of Estonian Printing and Packaging Industry since 2018. Katre has previous extensive experience as a manager of international cooperation projects in both, the public and private sectors. Prior joining the print industry, Katre gained diverse and valuable knowledge in various fields – education, service design, e-health and also modern art.

Katre holds MA in Sociology from the University of Tartu and studies Digital Transition of Businesses in TalTech (MS, 2021).

Katre Savi is a member of Steering Committee of the European Graphic Industry Association INTERGRAF, vice-chairman of advisory body of Tallinn Polytechnic School, vice-chairman of professional council of Engineering, Manufacturing and Processing at Kutsekoda and chairman of Professional Committee of Printing Industry professions.

How did Covid-19 affect Estonian printing houses last year?

The ”corona-year” in the printing industry has been hit hard, the advertising printing sector and periodical printing have become more affected by the crisis, and book printing has become less so. Label printing and packaging printing have recovered better in the spring of 2020 after a few months of pan-European economic downturn and have even performed well.

The entire printing sector is badly affected by the whole economy, i.e. a very sharp fall or closure of each economic sector also affects the printing sector.

How did the companies cope with this, and will it affect this year as well?

According to the company’s capabilities and needs, companies have acted differently during the crisis, and these needs have changed during the year. The companies have laid off employees and have also used part-time work in production; simultaneously, new employees have been recruited, and additional shifts have been hired, i.e. they have worked at max capacity.

The year 2021 has started in a similarly difficult way, with restrictions in the tourism sector, catering and leisure activities once again affecting the printing sector.
A difficult year is ahead. In addition to restoring sales numbers, it is necessary to think about investments that would ensure production capacity and quality in the future. However, investments require a stronger base and a stable domestic political situation.

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Is the printing industry in Estonia different from the rest of the world, for example, the USA?

The printing industry looks at more distant markets, either at very high volumes or at very good prices, which is why the US market is generally distant from us, and that is why I do not follow the US market very much in the Union.
Let’s see what our position is in Europe and what the target markets could be.
While the Nordic countries are already important export markets, we will next try to find opportunities for entry and expansion in Central European countries – Germany, France, etc.

The definite strength of the Estonian printing industry is flexibility (large and small orders/quantities), a modern fleet of equipment that enables high-quality production and good transport connections in Europe, i.e. fast delivery times.

Estonia’s reputation as an e-state can also be mentioned as a strength for entering new markets, which perhaps continues (hopefully the outgoing government has not caused irreversible damage, although it has somewhat undermined trust) and builds credibility for the state and partner.

The language skills of sales teams can also be highlighted as strengths. Many printers and packaging companies employ salespeople who are proficient in the languages ​​of their main target markets, which is the basis of a well-functioning customer relationship and which is far from being taken for granted in many other countries.

As a weakness, I would mention the readiness and ability to enter new markets and proactively create a market for oneself; perhaps purposeful work is needed to increase exports.

Here, as a union, we are also trying to help with bottlenecks with advice and strength.

The goal could be to bring the printing orders taken by European companies to China back to Europe, and why not fulfill them in Estonia instead – in better quality, with faster delivery time!

It is difficult for us to compete with the Chinese price because our labor taxes are very high. The way out is to increase volumes and reduce the share of the workforce with the help of new technology. Easier said, harder to implement!

How does print work for B2B marketing today?

I don’t think the printing industry should compete with social media or a fast news feed. Printing has a much deeper and greater value. A good example is the publications Edasi and Autogenius, which, in addition to the digital platform, also form print magazines, precisely in order to offer their readers the best reading experience!

I like to think in a way that the publication must carry more lasting information and respect its reader, i.e. each publication itself should offer an experience – the structure of the material, the volume, the design, the print surface under your fingers. There are so many ways to give your content a worthy form and connect with the reader.

Cheap customer sheets, which largely land in a nearby paper container, could also be a thing of the past.
In the case of customer pages, personalization and the reflection of offers and discount prices based on the customer’s referrals become important. If, for example, instead of the cheapest 24 pages of paper with the cheapest paper and the cheapest printing solution, a high-quality publication with important content reaches the customer’s mailbox, which also creates a significant impression on the provider (e.g. the store), the result is many times better.

Where do you see printing in 2030?

I see printing everywhere in 2030, just as printing is everywhere today. The information that is printed changes and the way the information moves from its origin to the consumer changes and the way between the printing machines. Many processes are being digitized and automated, and the capacity of printers and the choice of materials are growing. Today’s publications are a thing of the past and are replaced by products that we do not yet know how to assess today. This is an exciting world that is constantly changing.