Meiller to China to Help German Mail Order Houses

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SCHWANDORF, Germany - Yet another German DM company plans to set up shop in China -- Meiller Druck und Verlag GmbH, a printing and publishing house that offers a wide palette of DM services.

"We're still in the project stage," Siegfried Doerner, Meiller's CEO said. "What we're trying to do is build an enterprise in China active in all aspects of direct marketing."

The move was prompted by some of Meiller's major German clients who are already active on the Chinese market - Otto Versand, the world's largest mail order house, Quelle, the largest in Europe, and media giant Bertelsmann.

"Our clients told us that 'we need your services because they are simply not available in this country.'" While Doerner sees these firms as a solid basis for his future business, he concedes that finding enough other customers in China could be a problem.

But he is willing to roll the dice. He took a team to China last June and decided to go ahead. Team members have traveled to China regularly ever since looking for contacts and partners who can help them get the needed licenses.

"You can't do anything in China without a license," Doerner said. "You can't just travel there and set up a company. And getting permission is a lengthy and often difficult process.

"Still, we have prepared just about everything and now we just have to wait for a decision from Beijing. We hope to get the licenses in March or April so we can go ahead and open an office in Shanghai.

"Obviously we will have to invest considerable resources but our concept calls for setting up facilities for providing direct marketing products for companies already active on the Chinese market."

He is not limiting customers to German companies, pointing to Mecox, a US financed cataloger that set operations in Shanghai last year. However, it is run by a former Quelle executive, a German.

Meiller does not plan to buy or set up a printing business in China, at least not yet, but to produce and sell other DM goods and services.

Meiller is a subsidiary of the Sebaldus Gruppe, a $525 million German media company. It is active across Europe with sales offices and wholly owned subsidiaries, and, in addition, maintains manufacturing facilities in the Czech Republic and France. An expansion into Poland is planned.

Last year Meiller moved into the US market, opening a sales office in New York that actively looks for US clients.

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