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Tue, Aug

The soon to be published Widthwise 2020 survey shows that the price of supplies remains a top concern, so news that a major ink company - albeit across the pond - will be hiking prices at the start of next month is something of a concern. What are your suppliers telling you about likely price rises?

Hats off to Gardners! I was stunned when I heard about its new ‘pollution eating’ ReactivAir product. See the news story on the launch. But heck - who’s going to follow that?

I can’t believe it’s August! How distant the start of the Covid-19 lockdown now seems, but how far has your business come since reopening (if indeed you closed!)? Is the outlook sunny and bright or does it feel like winter has set in?

Well, what do you think? I’m receptive to any thoughts you may have in general about doing business in the large-format sector as you know, but in this instance I’m specifically interested in hearing what you have to say about the moves being made by various kit/consumables manufacturers and suppliers to get wide-format print opportunities in front of those that could become their new customers. Do you reckon that market expansion will benefit those of you already in it - or do the opposite?

If you thought this sector had the social distancing floor graphics market sewn up, think again. Kernow, manufacturer of the well-known FloorSharK material for latex and solvent printing, has brought out a version for dry toner - letting people produce jobs on their laser printer. Just letting you know…

I think it’s worth flagging up that Flint Group Packaging Inks has signed the United Nations Global Compact, and I’m wondering how many suppliers in the wide-format sector are likely to make the same kind of commitment in this changing landscape. As expectations change, would suppliers' ethical goals and promises impact your purchasing decisions?

I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of you who have just participated in the second Widthwise poll of 2020. Given that our first survey of UK large-format PSPs took place just before the Covid-19 lockdown, analysis of that data would have meant little to anybody. Now we have up-to-the-minute ‘new normal’ stats and comment - all will be revealed soon….

So, Heidelberg has pulled out of Drupa, citing the “unforeseeable effects of Covid-19”. Instead, the company - which was to have taken up a major part of Messe Dusseldorf’s hall 1 - will focus on “new, virtual trade fair concepts and regional events”. You have to ask what this move - in light of other high-profile exhibitor withdrawals and stand downsizing - means for this event and the future of international print trade shows. Are they outmoded and irrelevant now?

“One of the benefits of lockdown, is that each month I have chosen a different piece of software ‘I’ve been meaning to learn’, and have tried to spend half a day on it - which soon adds up over a month. Plus the costs of online learning are next to zero!” A quote from a LinkedIn ‘friend’ in the industry, which I thought I’d share with you all. Just as inspiration. After all - software development and implementation is going to be a real focus moving forward. So I’m told!

I have been talking to a number of print chiefs over the last week, many of whom are worried that once the furlough scheme ends they won’t be able to afford to keep staff on – and yet can’t afford to lay them off because the redundancy bill would be so high. Anybody got a solution?

Yes, everyone and his brother are manufacturing facemasks, but with the launch of the 76in-wide dye-sub SureColor SC-F10000 I’m wondering to what extent you’ve put printed textiles on your ‘must deliver’ list. We’ve talked about the opportunities to extend into new vertical markets for years. Is now the time to be driving that forward?

Just a friendly word to the wise – as of today my colleague will be calling those of you kind enough to have taken part in the 2020 Widthwise poll at the start of the year. Normally, by now, the analysis is done and the report is ready to deliver. Not this year. Like everything else, it's been impacted by Covid-19. There's no point delivering you out-of-date information, so we're asking a few pertinent questions to ensure we deliver something that truly reflects the state of things in the UK large-format print sector. If you would take a few minutes to respond I'd be grateful – and you'll get more worthwhile data. Thank you in anticipation.

Are you putting the flags out for the 4 July reopening of pubs, restaurants etc.? Wondering how much of a boost the move is likely to give the print sector. Are you benefitting?

Nicole Spencer - operations director at RMC Digital and president of Fespa UK Association - wants your help in developing a nationwide strategy to encourage people to come and work in print. Having kicked off her appeal of LinkedIn she’s already spoken with a number of PSPs and other associations to see how this can best be achieved, so get your voice heard. Give Nicole a call at RMC.

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