Historical overview

Kroonpress printing plant was born in March 1990 out of an urgent need – the Hans Heidemann national printing plant (that later served as a foundation for Greif Llc) was not able to satisfy the growing needs of the newspaper Postimees. Moreover, the state reacted upon aspirations of Postimees towards becoming an independent newspaper by shutting down its supply channels. Unlike other newspapers, Postimees was forced to procure paper, ink, plates, etc., on its own.

For Postimees, establishing its own printing plant now became an existential issue. But how would one find resources for acquiring a printing press and constructing production facilities? The cause found support in the form of Alexander Kofkin, a businessman with Estonian background, living in Switzerland, and Olari Taal, General Manager of the building company Tartu Maja; they believed that their mission was to support the first independent newspaper in Estonia.

The «landing» of Russian troops from Pihkva in Tallinn, in August 1991, gave the cause of Kroonpress some additional political weight. One could assume that, should the army take the national printing plants under its control, the new printing plant in Tartu, being based on Swiss capital, would be the only distributor of uncensored publications in Estonia.

Fortunately, Estonian independence was gained without casualties, and this was the start of a stable period of development for Kroonpress as well. As Heldur Tõnisson, who ensured that the newspaper had a firm financial foundation, acquired the shares of Postimees, the first investors of Kroonpress stepped aside. The mission of the founders of Kroonpress was accomplished and business interests had always been of secondary importance to them.

Postimees Ltd., having become the major proprietor of Kroonpress in 1993, was most concerned that the capacity of the printing plant would be appropriate for the needs of Postimees that had grown into Estonia’s largest daily newspaper. But in addition to fulfilling this priority task, Kroonpress gradually started to search for new clients. A heatset press procured from Finland enabled Kroonpress to offer quality printing to the publishers of both newspapers and magazines. Kroonpress became the second largest printing plant in Estonia.

In the autumn of 1997, Heldur Tõnisson made the decision to modernize the Kroonpress printing plant and invested millions of Estonian kroons into the company. Schibsted, a Norwegian media concern that in the summer of 1998 acquired 92.5% of the shares of Postimees Ltd., completed the financing of the project, whose total cost was 80 million kroons.

By 1998, the features of the old printing press had become inadequate for the printing needs of Postimees. Slow print speeds, limitations on the number of pages, and especially on the number of coloured pages, necessitated a search for new solutions. A high-tech printing press from Goss, US printing press manufacturer, was commissioned in September 1998. With print speed of 40,000 copies per hour and the maximum of 24 coloured pages, the new machine brought six more newspapers to Kroonpress as its new clients. The old machine continues to serve as a magazine press.

In a few months, the earlier one-newspaper-company developed into the largest printed media enterprise in Estonia and, under the name of Eesti Meedia, it incorporates 15 publications (two national newspapers, five local newspapers, eight magazines). The large number of its «own» publications decreases the investment risks of Kroonpress – Eesti Meedia provides the printing plant with a stable circle of clients. Currently, Kroonpress is printing approximately thirty different newspapers and magazines, as well as many advertising materials.

Valdeko Mikheim, the first General Manager of Kroonpress (a lawyer by education), resolved many complicated problems related to company founding. Hanno Barkala, General Manager in 1991-1998 (an engineer by education), fashioned the personnel of Kroonpress and created the technological foundations required for proper functioning of the company.

Today, the university degree in economics of the current General Manager Andres Kull enables Kroonpress to operate as an innovative, professional business.

Schibsted ASA sells Eesti Meedia back to local investors.