The latest Printing Outlook survey from the BPIF shows 43% of printers increased output levels in the first quarter of 2018 (20% experienced a decline) - making it the first time for seven years that Q1 output has outperformed Q4. But expectation for Q2 has fallen to a level that has not been experienced since Q1 2016. 29% of respondents predict that they will increase output levels in Q2, but 30% forecast that output will fall.
According to the BPIF Q2 may well be characterised by supply-chain cost and delivery concerns, wage pressures coming through and new legislative costs and burdens coming into force.
Competitors’ pricing below cost continues to be the most voiced business concern - the proportion selecting it this quarter is unchanged from last quarter; it remains at 70% (it was 65%, 70% and 81% in the preceding quarters). Paper and board price concerns remains the second ranked concern; this was selected by 63% of respondents, up from 60% last quarter (and 47%, 42% and 32% in the quarters prior to that). Access to skilled labour remains the third ranked concern, with 27% of respondents selecting it (down from 32% previously). Access to skilled labour remains above late payment by customers, which has returned as the fourth-ranked business concern.
The BPIF has been collaborating with Begbies Traynor to develop further industry and sector analyses; some of which is introduced in the latest Printing Outlook report. It said it has compiled a detailed financial health analysis of data for the 5,000 largest print and printed packaging companies (as selected by total asset value ranking). The financials for each company have been rated and updated over time - analysis of which will provide insight and benchmarks.
Charles Jarrold, BPIF chief executive, said: “Brexit has taken a bit of a back seat this quarter as we wait to see what happens next during the negotiations. However, our latest Brexit Barometers suggest that the economic outlook confidence during negotiations has become slightly less negative whilst the post-Brexit outlook become more negative. In the meantime there are plenty of other matters for businesses to focus on. Costs pressures are mounting and margins are being squeezed further, as it remains difficult to raise prices. Companies must therefore keep a close eye on job profitability, work mix, and, as ever cashflow.”