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Sun, Feb

It’s time to plan the annual Image Reports Widthwise 2015 roundtable discussion, and this year I thought I’d put out a direct invite to those of you running large-format digital print businesses. If you think you would like to take part in what is always a lively and frank discussion on the state of the sector please drop me a line. The event will take place in London at the start of November. Previous roundtable event write-ups can be found at: http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/features/special-report/round-tables

You know what, the ‘Think Bigger’ Round Table hosted by Image Reports this summer made my heart glad.

The intention was to bring together a number of PSPs and creatives to discuss how both ‘sides’ could work together more effectively to push the boundaries of large-format digital inkjet print. And that they did – you can read an exploration of their various views in this issue (PX). But what really hit home was the willingness to debate, and the realisation that that there are no ‘sides’ here. Communication may have some way to go before print is fluent in creative speak, and vice versa, but there’s definitely an eagerness to learn. Now is the time to harness that, and work out how best to move forward so that large-format digital print can live up to its full potential…and so that the businesses that use it/supply it, live up to theirs.

I’m thinking it might be worth you having a look at a new promotional video from Prinovis that sets out not only to brand the print company, but also challenge the perception that print is in decline. Liverpool based creative agency, Liquid, helped the printer come up with the video - which has the poem “Night Mail” by WH Auden at its heart. Go to www.prinovis.co.uk/why-print/print-can-be/ to see what I’m talking about.

The BPIF is part of a consortium putting together new print apprenticeship documents. It’s important that wide-format gets due consideration so please respond to the federation’s call for print companies to comment on the draft. Details are in the news item below.

A project initiated by James Cropper Paper has me very excited, because I think we could take the concept and run with it in the wide-format print sector. Here’s the gist - eight creatives were challenged to separately explore the potential of white paper. The results were fantastically diverse, including an ‘unroll and hang’ printable wall clock (see www.redefiningpaper.com). Why don’t we ‘Think Bigger’ and do something similar with various other substrates to stimulate interest within the design community about wide-format print’s potential?

Will a reminder that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) will fall from the current rate of £500,000 to £200,000 on 1 January 2016 do anything to prompt you to invest in equipment and business development programmes before the end of this year? If it will impact your operations I’d be interested in hearing from you.

…to use alternative inks in your printers? It’s a question that gets put to me time and again, and the honest answer is I don’t know! I hear so many stories about the pros and cons, often the ‘price’ a PSP ‘pays’ having little to do with the actual price of the ink itself. Any suggestions on how the sector can get around this conundrum?

Are large-format PSPs getting the most out of their MIS systems and fully utilising all the analytical tools they present? The best of the companies I speak with are – really digging down deep into the stats to fully understand where they are making and losing money. Others seem to still be using the systems as little more than a quote tool. What is it that gets a company from one position to the other?

McGowans’ substantial Durst investment prompts the question of how PSPs in Ireland now view levels of business – are the dark days over? If you’re an Ireland-based large-format PSP please let me know your thoughts.

Speaking with a number of PSPs over the summer it seems that increasingly there’s a demand for bespoke ‘tweaking’ of inkjet printers to match particular company/application requirements. Am I way out of kilter here in thinking that PSPs are having much more input these days on the spec of the machines they are buying? And if so, is how is that impacting pricing?

How useful are ‘open house’ events to you? Do you see them as somewhere to get an introductory look at systems you’re mulling over or as a place for more in-depth discussion? Are they a valuable addition/replacement for trade show attendance? Let me know your take…

No editor’s comment today as Lesley’s away on holiday. Normal service to resume next week!!! In the meantime please send all requests to the contact details below.

I’m just back from France where the slow pace of life drove me nuts! I can’t tell you how many stores and restaurants just never seemed to open. I’m assuming the country’s print businesses don’t hang out a ‘closed for the holidays’ sign throughout July and August. But it did get me thinking about productivity, and the fact that the UK is being hauled over the coals for being a pretty poor performer. Are there still plenty of to be made – and where?

I’d like to talk to large-format PSPs that are involved in any kind of carbon capture/offsetting scheme about the pros and cons of undertaking such a step. If you are thus engaged please get in touch at the usual email address – thank you.