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People are taking more photographs than ever before and, rather than simply storing them digitally, they print them out again. “The same digital revolution that marked the end of analogue photography, negatives and printed photographs has created an entirely new market for print products,” says Managing Director Pavel Schreiber. “Our flagship product is photo book (CEWE PHOTOBOOK) with hard bindings. Using the free Design Software, customers can create completely personalized books. Once they have filled the virtual pages with their favourite images, they can send the data via the internet to us for printing. The finished book can then be collected from one of our own stores or delivered directly to the customer’s door. They make an ideal gift or keepsake of a holiday or special occasion and are becoming increasingly popular.”

The ease with which prints can be ordered through the internet and the competitive prices of formats such as poster prints or acrylic board frameless pictures mean that more people are able to decorate their homes with professional-looking pictures they have taken themselves.

Nevertheless, there is still a need for a physical retail presence. CeWe Color has 49 stores in the Czech Republic trading under the name CEWE FOTOLAB. “People like to have support from professionals and our shops provide photography expertise alongside a range of photographic equipment and accessories,” says Mr. Schreiber. “For those who are really interested in photography, a phone camera doesn’t offer the full range of features to take really interesting shots.”

The FOTOLAB brand can be traced back to the company’s origins in 1990 when it was founded to provide photographic printing services. In 1995, the German photographic retail giant CeWe bought a two thirds share in the company and changed its name to CeWe Color while retaining the FOTOLAB brand for its retail outlets.

In 2007, it took over the second largest photographic retail chain, FotoStar and in 2011 it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of CeWe in Germany. “We are part of a major European company which means there is a constant international exchange of ideas and experience,” says Mr. Schreiber. “We have an annual motivational conference at which every CeWe company across Europe presents their ideas.”

The future trend that CeWe Colour believes will play the biggest role is social media. The rise of sites such as Instagram has been largely driven by the instantaneous nature of digital photography. “We want to focus more on social networks like Facebook and Instagram, not just to get and print photos but for our own marketing,” says Mr. Schreiber. “We recently held an open day at which we invited customers to visit our lab and see how photos are printed. We published this exclusively on Facebook and, within four days, all of the available appointments were booked and 460 people came to visit us. Social networks allow us to reach our customers in a very short space of time and are an enormously valuable tool.”

The company expects online sales to increase but it does not expect business through its retail outlets to decline. “Of the clients ordering photos or other print products online, 70% opt to pick them up in person,” says Mr. Schreiber. “This tells us that personal contacts are still paramount.”

It also confirms that innovative, personalized products are what the market wants. CeWe is constantly adding interesting products to its range such as a new photo calendar for Christmas that is being designed together with Ferrero.

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