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Sun, Apr

Calling all wide-format PSPs - your sector needs you (and so do we) to click through to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WW21IR and take part in our annual Widthwise survey. This is the 14th consecutive year (I know, I can’t believe it either!) we’ve undertaken this task, so that we can deliver you a data-led, grassroots Widthwise Report on the state of the wide-format print market in the UK and Ireland. The overarching theme of Widthwise 2021 is ‘the great reset’, and the report will reflect on what has been a tumultuous, disruptive and difficult year, but also look forward and examine the realistic expectations and viability of the sector longer-term. We can only do it with your help. You are usually fabulous - last year we had more than 220 PSPs respond. Help us to help you again in 2021. Thank you.

Is the appointment of a chief technology officer to the Precision Proco board an indicator of changing mindsets and focus within PSPs? I know that technology - its development, implementation and utilisation - has always been a core concern, but are you finding it increasingly necessary to have someone dedicated to joining all the dots? Just asking…

I have been asked to remind you that the new display and POS interest group is calling on large-format PSPs to take part in its short survey so that it can get a better handle on what the sector needs to do to engage young people and get them to consider a career within print. The survey can be found at: https://bit.ly/2QgUgWy - your input would be appreciated.

For how long and to what lengths have we talked about the benefits - and difficulties - of developing and using fully-fledged ecommerce solutions in the wide-format space? It’s a rhetorical question really - we all know it has been, and continues to be, a headache of an issue. But is the enormous shift in online buying patterns accelerating system development and changing your outlook? News releases and blogs coming in to me from vendors and integrators suggest that’s the case - what’s your grassroots take on the situation?

With news that Perry has been unveiled as the mascot for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, I’m wondering how many of you expect to gain from related print work? Would love to hear from anyone expecting to benefit from the event - assuming we’ll be in a position by then where it can actually go ahead!

Thought I’d take the opportunity to ask if you can let me have pictures, and a bit of info, on the most unusual large-format print job you have completed this year. If you’ve done anything whacky or wonderful I’d like to see it please, as I’m working on a gallery of such projects.

With World Out of Home Organisation chief Tom Goddard heading up a new advisory consultancy aimed at speeding up the digital transformation of the space, I have aquick question:what do you think about OOH advertising - is it still a key large-format print space?  

With the British Coatings Federation issuing another warning of raw material availability and prices hikes in regards to printing inks, how prepared are you for an increase in consumables costs? What are you going to do to recoup any price rises? Can you afford to pass them on to the customer, or are you going to have to swallow them? Can you?

What are your thoughts on the flexi-apprenticeship scheme announced by the Chancellor last week? Do you think the sector can benefit from such an initiative? I asked Karly Lattimore, MD of training at the BPIF, for her initial thoughts on this and the other training announcements made in the Budget. “Whilst we don’t yet have the detail, the flexi-apprenticeship proposal will certainly increase access to a diverse talent pipeline within the industry,” she said, adding: “We fully welcome not only the increase in the apprenticeship incentive payments but also the removal of the age limit for the full incentive. With unemployment rising and the economy being what it is, the print industry can create high quality roles to support young people into their first career step in the print industry whilst also addressing their own workforce needs and skills gaps. With the removal of the age restriction the industry can go further and support some of the people hardest hit by the pandemic by attracting someone with sought-after transferable skills and retraining them to play a key part in print.” I’d welcome your thoughts…

So, what did you think of the Budget yesterday? It’ll be interesting to see what the various print trade bodies have to say. I wonder if they - and you - would have liked to have seen more from the Chancellor in support of job growth, as highlighted by Gary Turner (MD of Xero UK) in commenting on the Budget’s impact on small businesses.

A reminder that entry to The Printing Charity’s ‘Rising Star Awards’ close on 7 March. Those aged 18-30 are invited to apply for one of the financial awards to help toward their career development. Those wanting to apply should go to: https://bit.ly/3pWFHn1  And remember that the charity is there to help in many other instances too, and runs a free 24/7 confidential helpline: https://bit.ly/2O3KLsq

News that Pimlico Plumbers is to rewrite the contracts of its more than 250 employees and require them to be vaccinated against coronavirus, or lose their jobs, has set off a ripple of uncertainty through the business world. As employment lawyer Alec Colson of Taylor says, “In short, compulsory vaccines is a legal minefield and employers will need to be very careful how they approach the matter.” Is it something you are thinking about?

At the end of last week Navigator announced a 6-8% increases in paper prices in USA. A bit earlier in the week the European Printing Ink Association issued a warning that “various pressures are likely to impact the printing inks market” – so, I’m taking these to be indications that we’re in for consumables price hikes. Publicly, manufacturers/suppliers are being quite quiet on that front. Are you hearing otherwise privately?

Mmmm…just had an email flagging up a ‘Crisis Communications Digital Workshop’ taking place in May that will “provide practical insights on how to prepare for and respond to a crisis from a communications perspective”. It’s being organised by Westminster Insight, which delivers events “that are timely and relevant to the government agenda and challenges of today and tomorrow”. Methinks they’re a bit late off the mark when it comes to preparing for crisis more than a year after Covid-19 hit these shores, but have any of you made use of such webinars since the pandemic began - and are there subject areas where you’d like to see still more?

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