Fri, Jul

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.

This is interesting: the developers behind the Soultime app have employed AI to register users moods and have added functionality that alerts friends should they need to contact the user to give them support and encouragement. Might be worth having a look-see at the new Soultime with Friends and flag up to work-at-home employees?

It’s a fortnight since the UK lockdown. What has the last two weeks done to your business? Are you still doing any business? So many of you provided detailed input into the Widthwise survey just a few weeks ago. I’m working on the data analysis. But how things change in so short a space of time… Keep me in the loop and I’ll continue to do my best to do the same for you.

Here’s something you should actually pass on to your workforce - the phone number 01293 542820. It’s for the Printing Charity - which may be a much needed port of call for those struggling right now. As a reminder, the charity is there for those who have worked in the sector for three or more years. It can offer practical and emotional support as well as assessment-based financial help. Considering what Matic Media MD Richard McCombe has to say about the state of business I fear the charity’s phones are going to be red-hot.

Yes, I do mean virtually! Wondering if any of you want to join in an industry discussion forum on how to get through this difficult period - and come out the other end into a viable marketplace. It’s not my idea to be fair. One of my readers has been on the phone, worried that at the end of all this supplies prices are going to be sky high and print prices rock bottom as everyone scrabbles for survival. His thinking is that there should be a group of print chiefs that regularly chat over ideas on how to retain a sustainable large-forma print sector. Interested?

It’s great that the BAPC and IPIA are working together to provide intelligence on the print sector to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy BEIS. It’s great that the BPIF is doing likewise. But I am wondering how co-ordinated an approach this sector has when it comes to lobbying on behalf of the whole print industry. What’s happened to the Graphics and Print Media Alliance (GPMA), formed as an umbrella organisation to which various print associations (including the BPIF, Fespa UK, BAPC, IPIA, Picon, Apcom, Two Sides etc) belonged. I worry that we are still not presenting a coherent voice to Government. Is that just me?

Having a rescheduled 2020 date for Fespa Global somewhat lifted my spirits amid all the COVID-19 disruption. The thought of the being in a position to travel again to international trade shows by October seems quite surreal right now to be honest - but just having a date in the diary shines a light at the end of what could be a long tunnel.

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