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Monday, September 14

Ilford products under new ownership



Harman Technology, manufacturers of the Ilford range of black and white photographic products, has been sold to English-based Pemberstone Ventures for an undisclosed sum. It's difficult to know how to view this right now and I suppose only time will tell if it's a good thing for the analogue world or not.

Mark Anslow. Pic from The Business Desk.com
Pemberstone, that's a snapshot of their company vitals above, were certainly saying the right things as the deal was announced. The company's CEO, Mark Anslow, said, “We are very excited by the potential of the analogue photography movement and believe that HARMAN is uniquely placed to drive the resurgent film market into the future.”

According to the press release announcing the purchase, Pemberstone, a UK based investment company, have been tracking the performance of HARMAN for some time.

Part of the Ilford range

For their part, HARMAN said their goal now was to target young photographers, clearly a sensible tactic with traditional film users not getting any younger. Managing director Peter Elton commented, “Film has become an interesting medium for young photographers to work with again. We are seeing this very clearly. Our new owners will assist us to connect more effectively to this younger generation in the future and we will prioritise this as our main goal over the next five years.

“We remain totally committed to analogue photography and, indeed, to all forms of imaging. Our product range is uniquely stable and of the highest quality and we can assure all of our customers that we will continue to support them in our customary way for the foreseeable future.”

The big question is, what about the unforeseeable future?

15 comments :

Gerald said...

As much as I want to be optimistic about this, that quote you reproduce doesn't bode well. And it's not only because the word analogue in relation to photography makes my toes curl for some reason.

"We are very excited by the potential of the analogue photography movement"

The analogue photography movement? What, you mean that trendy flash in the pan thing that's been around for the best part of two hundred years and has been one of the most significant cultural inventions in modern times? I fully expect that six months down the line the originator of a statement like that will be making plastic cameras that come in a variety of exciting colours for two hundred bucks a pop, whilst 'becoming more efficient' by streamlining their range to remove those less popular products.

Anti electrons said...

As long as they don't stop making Tri-X I will be happy ;-)

Michael Carberry said...

I find the news rather depressing regardless of the fluff news release. Dammit.

marty said...

Hi, there. Looks like Harman is doing well for the time being so there's hope. As for the unforseeable future, well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there :-).

Cheers, M.

Bruce Robbins said...

Gerald, that phrase jarred with me as well. I could understand that attitude if the directors of the new company were all hipsters but they seem to be men around 50 or early 50s. For people of that age to use terminology like that suggests they've never had any interest in photography in the past. I think the film companies that will last will be those who are in it for the love of film - like Mirko and the team at Adox.

morris1800 said...

Oh shit , just when I had decided on FP4 as the 'here to stay film' that I would put some effort into getting to know well instead of jumping from film to film. Have had a lot of experience of venture capitalist firms over the years . We knew them as vulture capitalists with 5 year agendas . Sell on at a profit or write off as a tax loss. A nervous time for Harman staff and Ilford product users.

David M said...

Ilford Tri-X has long been my favourite film.
I suggest that we might stop squirming over the word analogue. Like it or not, "wet" (for want of a better word) photography has become an alternative process. That means that it's no longer the default mainstream choice, but is done by people who elect to do it.
We can't control what people call us, but, like the Quakers, we can accept it with grace and get on with our lives. Think how much blog-space we'd free up if we stopped banging on about that word.
If Ilford intend to attract more young or novice photographers, it would be sensible to devise and market more entry-level products. They already sell excellent pinhole cameras. There might be more kits, with everything included for making your own photographs. Perhaps a nicely-designed entry-level enlarger. (LED lighting, controllable for Multigrade, short-focus lens for compactness, maybe some sort of hood or tent to form a portable darkroom?)
Anything that gets a beginner over the threshold should be welcome, even brightly-coloured cameras. Let's not insist that we, and we alone, are the guardians of the One True Path. Therein lies extinction.

Gerald said...

David: In principle I agree with what your're saying, and I have no issue with them expanding their range and attracting different types of customers. But I'm concerned about the things they might drop. They've had some very niche products over the years (direct positive paper anyone?) that seem to have come out of a love of traditional photography rather than generating huge levels of profit. Their press release doesn't inspire me that that philosophy will be allowed to continue.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like good news to me but hopefully I'll be proved wrong. As you say Bruce, those in it for the love will survive; I'd love to see a few of the major camera companies revive one of their classic film cameras; that way we may have a chance of changing the perception that film photography is a dead or dying medium. Those old film cameras aren't going to last forever; then what?

Mike.

Scotty Elmslie said...

Let's hope "movement" was just a poor word choice - "resurgence" would have been more optimistic.

On the bright side, taking over a healthy enterprise dose not suggest killing it core products. I think that the worst that will happen is that prices might rise a little but there is still some quality competition that will keep the new owners honest.

Even in the case of Kodak, which was not healthy, the best films were retained and repriced to keep them viable.

Scotty

Regular Rod said...

It's a worry alright! Those premises would make a very nice housing development in a popular catchment... This November will have seen me using ILFORD films and papers for 58 years. Never once have I had a problem with any ILFORD product. At a visit to the ILFORD (Harman) factory I was struck by the sheer dedication of the staff to obtain and maintain the quality of their products and to help their clients get the most satisfaction from using them. Losing any of these folk would be sure to have a deleterious effect on such great all round performance...

Regular Rod

DougH said...

Passed up this year's ULF film order which might have been a mistake. Hopefully, the annual ULF order will continue under new management. There are enough suppliers of all other formats for us not to worry.

Photo Utopia said...

@Ilford Tri-X has long been my favourite film'
Urgh with customers like that (two in this comment section) film is doomed ;)
I can see Dads Army's Frazer uttering those very words...

Seriously Analogue yuk, an unneeded moniker if I ever heard one, still I guess it stops the 'Ilford Tri-x'(sic) buying crowd from trying to load it in their DSLR.

David M said...

Perhaps I should avoid making jokes...
And the little plastic thingy from my digital camera won't fit in the enlarger.

El Ingl├ęs said...

Have to agree with Morris1800, these people are in the game for a return on their investment. If somewhere else looks a better bet, they'll pull their funds and invest there, without sentiment as to whether that brings an end to Ilford.