Rumours are swirling around the photographic industry both in Australia and overseas that Sino Promise, the Chinese owner of the Kodak silver halide paper and chemical business, is experiencing severe supply and cash flow difficulties which could lead to consumables shortages for local Kodak-supporting minilabs and prolabs.
This follows our story last year of Sino Promise alerting US trade customers of sudden supply shortages in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Sino Promise acquired the Kodak silver paper and photochemicals business from Kodak Alaris mid-way through 2020. Kodak photographic film remains a Kodak Alaris product. Since 2015, Sino Promise has manufactured photochemicals and finished Kodak silver halide photographic paper and dye-sub paper in China.
Inside Imaging understands from local and US industry sources that Sino Promise is now demanding payment upfront for orders to photo retailers, with normal Terms of Trade withdrawn. Shipment is at the customer’s expense.
‘It has collapsed so bad here that we know nothing,’ a US source said. ‘What a mess!’
We have also been told that Sino Promise has already increased its prices to Direct User Accounts and the local distributor by around 30+ percent, more or less across the board, with the price rises to take effect immediately.
Through 2021, supply from Sino Promise was delayed and patchy, according to local distributors, and this was initially attributed to disruptions to international shipping. It now emerges that key Sino Promise suppliers in the US have themselves been demanding payment up-front, and that if it fails to make a significant payment to a major supplier in the next few days, it could lead to a collapse of the business.
Sino Promise sources master rolls of silver halide colour paper rolls manufactured by Carestream Health in Colorado (formerly an Eastman Kodak paper manufacturing plant) and slits them into customer rolls in China. Other ‘bespoke’ professional products distributed by Sino Promise, like Kodak Endura Professional paper and Duratrans have been imported fully finished from the USA.
A search of Sino Promise US company information show that in January this year the US subsidiary moved from ‘Non-compliant’ to ‘Delinquent’, due to having not filed any financial reports in the US. The next stage is ‘administrative dissolution’ by the State of Colorado, where it is registered.
Another issue facing the company, according to an informed industry insider, is that Wuxi, the city in which Sino Promise manufactures chemicals, has been subject to several strict Covid lockdowns over the past few months. The Chinese government is also applying more stringent terms for Dangerous Goods shipping permits which impact photochemical shipments.
‘They don’t sound too worried about this and hopefully we will not go out of stock of chems,’ our source said.
Another source told Inside Imaging that the local Sino Promise Kodak paper and photo chem sales rep has been suggesting that Australian retail customers place large advance orders – up to a container load – with payment in advance to help Sino Promise overcome its financial difficulties.
– Good luck with that!
In the Australian and New Zealand markets there are alternative professional suppliers like Independent Photographic Supplies (iPhoto) who have been sourcing a portfolio of ‘the Best Brands in Imaging’ for the last 19 Years, with proven alternative silver halide products like CPAC/Champion photo chemistry and its own-brand ‘IPS Fighting Paper’ in all popular minilab sizes and surfaces.
‘We have been literally inundated with concerned phone calls from photo specialty retail and prolabs scrambling for locally-stocked, fully-supported alternative products to fill the gaps created by the Sino Promise/Kodak products cash flow and supply issues,’ said managing director, Stuart Holmes.
IPhoto has four warehouses across Australia and New Zealand. ‘With professional logistics control, the iPhoto team has been able to assist many silver halide labs maintain continuity of supply and print production,’ he said.
He estimated that only around 20 percent of photographic prints these days were produced with silver halide paper and chemicals, including those from several high volume prolabs.
See www.iphoto.net.au for more details and contact information.
– Keith Shipton
Inside Imaging approached Sino Promise China and the local Sino Promise representative for comment.