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Fri, Jun

A Thursday thought: “Bring in young talent, listen to them, and overpay them.” That’s what you need to do to reboot your business according to Simon Biltcliffe, CEO of Webmart UK, speaking at this week’s PrintFuture virtual summit. As he reiterated, “business is an aggregation of talent. The real advantage is having the best. And to get that talent you’ve got to be proactive and on the look out for people with empathy, creativity and curiosity - because down the line computers will do the rest.”

Fujifilm is working with metal packaging printing firm Tinmasters to develop metal decoration possibilities using UV inkjet print technologies. We’ve often talked about the fact that you can print onto just about anything these days - and we’ve seen printing onto cotton wool, grass, even ice for goodness sake. So often the sticking point is not technical capability but route to market and the effort required into creating new customer bases - but as so many PSPs find themselves in the position of having to reinvent themselves I’m wondering if metal printing - and other ‘niche’ high-value applications - are getting a real airing? Would be interested in hearing from any of you developing more unusual inkjet applications.

What do you want from a webinar right now? So many manufacturers and distributors are running them, many marketed as ‘educational’ but really just lightly veiled product promotions. Are these useful? Do you think they’re a good move in the current climate?

Is there a large-format orientated PSP out there NOT moving production to PPE or other Covid-19 related products? Do you think this is the ‘new normal’ for some time to come? And, if so, what are you doing to realign your company? If you want to talk, I’d love to hear from you.

Are print firms currently undervalued? A month ago in this space I asked if you were likely to be selling or buying a business given this new landscape. Has much changed in the last four weeks? I would be interested from hearing from prospective buyers/sellers.

I know you’ve not being doing your bit to help out in this Covid-19 landscape to garner any honours, but this sector has done so much in relation to PPE provision etc. that it would be a shame if some of you weren’t recognised for your efforts. Thinking you might want to enter this year’s Stevie Awards for Great Employers, where six Covid-19 response categories have just been added.

This came to my attention and I thought I’d pass it on - IST Metz, in co-operation with Virobuster, is urging printers to install a Steribase air cleaning system that reduces micro-organisms in the air, thus reducing the potential for Covid 19 transmission in the workplace. A basic wall-mounted version costs £3,575. No doubt there are alternatives – just thought it worth flagging up that such systems are available and not necessarily bank busting.

As I'm a Northerner maybe that header should be eeee-help! Anyway, the point is, businesses forced to adopt e-commerce prematurely, or without experience, are being offered professional consultative advice from Energy PR in a Zoom webinar at 4pm on 12 May. There are probably loads of similar things taking place, so it might be worth a Google! You can register for the Energy PR webinar at www.energypr.co.uk.

A reminder - as if you need it! - that applications open today for Government’s ‘bounce back’ loan scheme for SMEs. The fast-track scheme will enable businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days - in some cases within 24 hours. The government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. Firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders. Businesses can apply online through a two-page standardised application form. There are no forward-looking business viability tests or eligibility criteria for the finance.

If you operate a PSP in the Humber area you probably already know about the Scale-Up Business Development Programme - but I’ve just learned about it, and would like to know of similar schemes elsewhere. Heck, if I can flag up programmes to help PSPs get back on track I will! The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s Scale Up programme is for local SMEs, with more than ten full-time employees, that would have been set to scale up operations before the Covid-19 lockdown. According to Growth Hub manager Jon Brunton, it wlll “now support businesses so they are placed in the strongest position possible come the lifting of restrictions. I would therefore strongly encourage any business with ambitious growth plans to engage with the programme.” Can I encourage any of you who know of other regional schemes of this ilk to let me know - I’m happy to spread the word!

So Boris is back at Number 10. If you had the chance to ask the PM to deliver one thing on his first day back at his desk, what would it be?

So many of you have been doing your bit for the greater good amid this Covid-19 pandemic that I’d love to help spread the love and dedicate the next ‘Think Bigger’ gallery of large-format printed/finished work to showcasing what you’ve been producing to help. So please, send in your pics – together with a few words explaining what it is you’ve been doing – whether it’s producing PPE, free signage for hospitals etc., moral boosting posters thanking the NHS….whatever. Thank you.

Are you a buyer or a seller? Thinking about the long-term impact on this sector of print businesses going cheaply in this current climate. How do you think this will play out?

So the IPIA and BAPC are doing their bit in making sure Government is aware of the plight of print companies amid this Covid-19 pandemic and in fighting to ensure you can stay in business. The question’s got to be, do you think you’ll survive? The results from the associations’ Covid-19 Business Impact Survey (https://ipia.org.uk/download-the-results-of-the-ipia-business-impact-survey/) make interesting, if disturbing reading. But with things changing on a day-to-day basis, there is still a chance to make a difference - for instance, a case has been made to the BEIS about the inclusion of print businesses in the £25,000 Grant Scheme for hospitality, retail and leisure where they can prove they have significant exposure to these sectors. So take action - if you have case studies and information to back-up your position get in touch with the IPIA/BAPC to aid their discussions.

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