2006 goal: press 13M CDs, 11M DVDs.

Bertelsmann-owned disc replicator Sonopress has opened a CD and DVD plant in Russia. The new facility in Yaroslavl, 250 kilometres north of Moscow, is targeting production of 13 million CDs and 11 million DVDs in 2006.

Former IFPI executive Claus Madsen will helm the new firm and its team of 36 staff. In a statement, Madsen says "we are certain that further expansion will be quick to follow. Our goal is to increase the number of employees to at least 100 in the next few months."

The presence of two subsidiaries of parent arvato -- an offset printing plant and a distribution center -- was decisive in the selection of the site.

"Russia has developed into an interesting business location with high economic growth rates," comments Sonopress CEO Western Europe Sven Deutschmann in a statement. "On top of this, numerous conversations with our existing and potential customers have revealed great interest in the establishment of a licensed, western replicator in the Russian market," he adds.

The company has European facilities in Dublin, Birmingham, Madrid, Forbach and at its headquarters in Guetersloh, Germany

Sonopress is entering a market plagued by physical CD piracy, where the production capacity for its licensed optical disc plants far exceeds local demand.

In its “Commercial Piracy Report” for 2005, the IFPI described Russia as the world's second biggest pirate market behind China. As of April 2005, there were 34 licensed optical disc plants in the country with a combined annual production capacity of 450 million discs. That figure was three times the corresponding limit reported in 2002.