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Wed, Oct

Personalisation - what opportunities is it throwing up for those of you in wide-format print? It’s another area that we’ve talked about for years now, but is the current situation - having exacerbated the online buying trend - making you review your decision about getting involved? Or is Web-to-print - necessary to reach the B2C market -  an issue you’re still wrangling with?

So, Drupa’s online ‘preview’ programme starts next week, and the Fespa Global 2021 website has gone live (along with its marketing campaign)  - but how many of you think you’ll actually attend these events in person - if they do indeed go ahead? As we’ve learned, much can happen in a very short space of time, so perhaps it’s far too early to ask the question, but of course the organisers - and exhibitors - will be data crunching and crystal ball gazing to try and predict the answer and make a call accordingly. How close to the show dates do you think you’ll need to get before you decide how to play it?

If you’re looking for new retail clients, are you looking towards the small, local shops and high street businesses? According to a new study by Forrester Consulting - on behalf of small business platform Xero - that’s where consumers want to buy nowadays. So could you win from an upswing in that quarter, or are print requirements from such operations too small change to be worth the bother?

It’s reached the time of year when I start putting together my longlist of nominations for the annual Image Reports’ Angel Awards – for the most innovative products/systems/services introduced into the UK large-format digital inkjet sector since the start of the year. If there’s anything you think worthy then now’s the time to flag it up! Thanks in anticipation…

With diversification now pretty much the norm among large-format PSPs - and in light of various recent moves by machine and materials suppliers to focus on opportunities in the printed textile market, especially in fashion, it’ll be interesting to see how many get involved in the near future. It’s something that has been pushed as an option for quite some time now, but our 2020 Widthwise survey of PSPs show it’s still not really something many are taking up - not because of machine capability (or lack of), but because of the route to market etc. Maybe we’ll see that change in the 2021 Widthwise poll. Meanwhile you can get the 2020 one here - https://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise -  if you’re yet to see it.

In case you missed the first Widthwise Live webinar last week, and therefore insights from our fab panel of speakers - Will Tyler, Octink; Richard Courtney, Gardners; Stuart Maclaren, YPP Group; Sean Smyth, Smithers; and Colin McMahon, Keypoint Intelligence – let me direct you to recordings of their talks: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL787bPnkuLzFS-lvRw7M51LW8Jla-QPKw  Hope they help and inspire you.

Our 2020 Widthwise Report is now ready and waiting for you to download at: https://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise. This year we did two polls of the UK and Ireland’s large-format PSPs to garner grass-roots data on the sector. Do you agree with your colleagues and competitors? Let me know your thoughts…

What are your thoughts on the clarion call to Government from the GPMA? Are you one of those companies that need 'disaster fund' relief to keep going?

OK, how has the reinstated ‘work from home if you can’ rule impacted your business. Had you recently brought people back on site and now find yourself sending them back from whence they came? What proportion of your staff can actually work from home and be 100% productive in their assigned roles? Will remote tools - like the new Epson Cloud Solution Port - help in any significant way?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Consider this an invite - come join me 11am-12:30pm on 29 September 2020 at the first ever Widthwise Live. Yes, the 2020 iteration of the annual Widthwise Report is somewhat later than usual in being published - it will be out with the October issue of Image Reports. That’s because the first survey of the UK/Irelands’ large-format PSPs was undertaken at the start of the year (as it has been for the last 13 years), then Covid-19 struck so we obviously we needed to do another one after lockdown had set in! I’ll deliver the key findings at the online Widthwise Live event, where we’ll discuss three key topics: building revenues, reducing cost, and diversifying your wide-format print offering. And it won’t be just me spouting off – hear from Richard Courtney, MD, Gardners; Stuart Maclaren, group CEO, YPP Group; Will Tyler, founder, Octink; and Colin McMahon, research analyst, Keypoint Intelligence. We will also do our best to answer your questions on the day. So waste no time – register at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1OvbQOAhTjyz1foofPGqmQ

A report undertaken by Allica Bank to support British business shows that many SMEs are failing to formalise regular training, and losing out because of it, so I have to ask – how many of you are managing to run formal training programmes at this time? Have they fallen by the wayside or are you fully aware of their importance and making sure they continue? Do you think the sector has well-targeted and accessible training programmes etc?

Are you anxious about your employees feeling anxious? How are you dealing with staff requiring mental health support? I’m researching how owners/managers of SMEs are managing to cope with what we are being told is real problem - and likely a growing one. If you have suggestions as how we best can support our people in this industry, please let me know.

Well done to Ultima Displays in developing a printable, self-sanitising stretch fabric. We can see an amazing amount of R&D taking place within the sector right now – so perhaps it’s worth a reminder of the Government’s R&D tax credits scheme. You could be quids in! There’s an article in our latest issue – and on our website: https://bit.ly/3kI9gY4

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