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Trade Comment

Key Trends

As the New Year approaches it is time for reflection and prediction. Brendan Perring asks: “What do you feel were the key trends that shaped 2014 and will continue to grow for the next year?”

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Sidney Bobb, chairman, BAPC

A brighter future

Over the past few years just about every business in the UK suffered from the impact of the economic downturn. The big question was how to combat the recession.

Costs had to be saved and many organisations looked at their outgoings and adopted a strategy of cutbacks. CEOs were replaced by accountants who looked at every penny of expenditure. Pressure was placed on suppliers to reduce their prices, so marketing, advertising, and print spend was dramatically reduced—it was all about saving money.

In my role within the BAPC, I am very aware that the industry thrives on the activity of its customers. Unfortunately, this stag-nation, coupled with technological and cultural changes, had a major impact.

However, saving money does not necessarily mean that a business is successful and so companies began to realise that to return to profitable times they would have to actually increase sales activity.  Expenditure in advertising increased and in 2013 the UK total spend exceeded £14bn, which was the highest level of investment for six years since the financial crash.

Companies that recognised the changing marketplace have been on an expansion trail while others have found life challenging


More was invested in marketing and the trend towards digital increased. Those print businesses with the facilities and mind-set benefitted. Indeed, companies that recognised the changing marketplace have been on an expansion trail while others have found life challenging.

The print industry is no longer about simply putting images on substrate, but is part of the wider world of communications. Some say that print businesses have moved from being in the manufacturing sector to a service industry that manufactures.

Nobody has a crystal ball to see what the future will bring, but it is certainly looks brighter as we head into a new year. And whether you’re a small local firm or a multinational corporation, the BAPC will add value to your offering.

Steady as she goes


Gerry Mulvaney, European sales manager, Landa Digital Printing














From a print industry point of view, I have seen a continuing improvement in the UK market in 2014, following on from the same positive feelings in 2013. The green shoots certainly need nurturing, but they are well established now and starting to feel the benefit of an overall improvement in the economy generally.

The green shoots certainly need nurturing, but they are well established now and starting to feel the benefit of an overall improvement in the economy generally


When I have visited my Landa customers in the UK, I am seeing full order books and extra shifts, particularly in the packaging sector, which is benefiting from well-documented demographic changes increasing the demand for different pack sizes.

The same feeling seems to be there in Ireland too. Their economy is picking up and print sectors dealing with retail, travel, pharmaceutical, and construction are benefiting. I cannot say the same about other European economies which I see on my travels. Southern Europe and France in particular are still struggling with the impact of austerity or opposition to austerity, which is holding back their growth. Unemployment amongst young people is a real blight for these markets.

I do not expect any great change in the outlook for 2015; any improvement will still be long-term, but the news that wage growth in the UK was marginally ahead of inflation in September—the first time in five years—would suggest that the benefits of the growing economy are starting to reach those who are contributing with their labour. The figure was small but significant and for those who still have jobs in the printing and packaging industries in the UK and Ireland, 2015 could be the year they start to see light at the end of the tunnel.

The cutting edge


Andrew Pearce, chief executive officer, IPIA



The feeling amongst IPIA members over the past year has been one of cautious optimism as there has been a growing confidence in the market and a more positive feel.

There has generally been a greater throughput of work with the trend continuing for shorter runs and orders coming through more frequently. On the whole, the time from quote to order has got shorter as clients seem to be making decisions quicker.

The adoption of ‘print enhancements’ such as special finishes and augmented reality continued to gain traction as clients began to take on board the opportunities


Growth areas have continued to be large- format digital and packaging, as there is no easy e-substitute for these. The adoption of ‘print enhancements’ such as special finishes and augmented reality continued to gain traction as clients began to take on board the opportunities.

Adoption of a wider portfolio of products and services by some printers and print managers has enabled their growth. Such diversification includes the offering of cross media services.

There has also been continued steady growth in the re-adoption of direct mail as a key part of the marketing mix. Recent studies by the Royal Mail and Neopost have shown that this area is in resurgence and is a key element in delivering the much-desired return on investment for clients’ campaigns.

Print continues to be at the cutting edge of developments and our members are constantly developing and searching for new innovations, which will enhance the portfolio of services they offer their clients.

Focused on the future


Kyle Jardine, research manager, BPIF














The BPIF conducts a significant amount of research on the UK printing industry. Two recent studies—UK Printing Industry-Future Focus, commissioned by Neopost, and the recurring quarterly state of trade survey Printing Outlook—provide valuable insight.

Some 44 percent of respondents to the Future Focus research predicted a decline in industry turnover over the next three years; twelve percent didn’t commit to decline or growth and an exact balancing 44 percent expected growth in turnover. The three stand-out challenges ahead are expected to be overcapacity, competition from other media channels, and technological changes.

Clients now need to communicate and reinforce their messages across multi-channels, and to a much more diverse audience


The rise of digital media as a marketing channel has altered the landscape for the printing industry. Clients now need to communicate and reinforce their messages across multi-channels, and to a much more diverse audience. Printing companies are having discussions with clients about widening their product/service offering; as a result many have diversified, or are in the process of diversifying, their business.

Multichannel production, or alternative communication methods, has become an area of interest for printers.

Whilst reduced print runs and changing customer demand are dominant effects of multichannel marketing—these are not considered to be negative effects by all printers. Innovation, customer engagement, efficiency, and revenue growth can all be stimulated and achieved.

Popular recent investments have been MIS, wide-format, and bringing binding and finishing services in-house. Looking ahead—the clear investment priority for most is variable data digital presses. However, web-to-print, mailing and fulfilment, and database management are priority areas for many companies.

Printers remain relatively optimistic about their own performance. Our latest Printing Outlook report notes that 50 percent of companies consider themselves to be expanding.

Some growth is expected in prepress and design for printing, mailing and fulfilment, and database handling. However, expectations for personalisation and variable data are particularly positive.

Finally, Printing Outlook has noted that investment in product and process innovation, training, as well as re-training became a priority in 2014. We expect these areas to continue to be key in 2015 and will be supporting our members through our business improvement and training initiatives.

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