Wed, Jul

A quick question - but expecting some long answers! Rishi Sunak’s spring statement was praised for supporting SMEs but does anyone in the wide-format sector think it will help them?

How are you getting on? With Covid surging, I’m wondering how it’s impacting your businesses. And I’m also wondering if it’s making much of a difference to your outlook on attending large events, such as trade shows. Of course SDUK UK 2022 opens tomorrow and I’ll be taking the chance to mingle - will you?

I’m just taking this opportunity to remind all you lovely folks that the Widthwise Survey 2022 is now open and can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VMKJZFX . I’d really appreciate your input to what is the 15th annual poll of the UK/Ireland large-format print sector so I can produce a report - which will be free to all - that truly reflects how things are changing. Many thanks for your continued support of this project.

It’s great to see PSPs being recognised outside of the print bubble for all the work they do. Hollywood Monster chief Tim Andrews is celebrating another gong, this time a special award for ‘Contribution to West Midlands Business’ at the Midlands Business Awards, while ImageCo co-owner Nathan Swinson Bullough is finding space on the shelf for the Yorkshire and Humber Federation of Small Businesses Community Award. Good on you. I daresay there are more of you out there celebrating too. I would love to know whether you think winning prizes helps boosts your profits - in a round-about way? If so, which are more valuable - trade or non-trade wins?

A bit of free money is always welcome I say, so it would be great if you could  flag-up to all of your staff members aged 18-30 that they could get their hands on £1,500 towards their career progression via the Printing Charity 2022 Rising Star Awards, open for entries until 3 May. You may need to give them a bit of hand in applying, but I daresay it will be well appreciated!

Yay - I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath for the 2022 Widthwise survey to open. And today’s the day. It’s here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VMKJZFX  I’m finding it hard to believe that this is the 15th consecutive year we’ve conducted this independent poll of the UK and Ireland’s large-format PSPs! Over that period we’ve seen massive change and I can’t be alone in wondering what is yet to come. With your help I hope to flag up trends and issues in what has so far proven quite a resilient sector. The data-based Widthwise Report will be free for you all to make use of, so please give me your input. It will be much appreciated.

This is a quick one - here’s hoping to a swift resolution to what could be a very damaging situation in regards to new rules coming into force in June relating to GBL and 1,4-BD - found in some inks. GPMA member associations are certainly doing their bit. If you can bring any more weight to bear, possibly through your MP, all the better.

Are you spending to save? I’m sure we’re all on an efficiency drive - doubtless the cornerstone of good business strategy but sometimes overlooked in favour of chasing higher turnover. I’m hearing of plenty of PSPs laying out money to improve their business, which is great news. But I’d love to know exactly where that money’s going - it certainly isn’t all on production kit/solutions. I’ll ask the wider question in the 2022 Widthwise poll when it opens next month - but I’d welcome earlier input too.

I have got to applaud the print and allied trades bodies in how they’re rallying together to try and prevent what could major blow to print companies come June. The reclassification of certain chemicals used in ink production and impending legal changes impacting users - such as printers - requires urgent attention, and it’s brilliant that the sector has recognised that and is working hard to find a solution. What are your thoughts on the issue?

You’ll see in this newsletter that Fespa UK is tomorrow launching the second phase of its waste collection programme, and that at its ‘Future of Print ‘event on 10 March it will be discussing how to best progress. Meanwhile, I thought it worth a quick reminder that ArtSystems will host a webinar tomorrow to highlight the benefits of the BPIF Display and POS 2 Recycling Scheme. The scheme was rolled out last summer in partnership with recycling specialist Prismm Environmental (which is also supporting the Fespa UK programme) and this update - which will run for an hour from 10.30am - will highlight the benefits and provide a Q+A forum. You can register at: https://bit.ly/3uUE4fY

With the BPIF having recently joined forces with Intergraf and Finat to push for the end of strike action at Finnish paper mills in the face of a European paper shortage threatening the supply of printed products, I have to ask whether media shortages (not to mention price hikes) are causing you production problems? Or is the wide-format print sector managing better than some others due to the breadth of substrates used?

Quick poll - do you plan to attend any of the trade print fairs this year? If so, is it because you plan to invest and want to see the latest technological developments, or is it more a case of wanting to see people face-to-face again and chat about the state of the nation? Both are good reasons to my mind but wondering if you feel attendance will be worthwhile.

Where are you going? According to nearly all the press releases I now receive, many of you are taking your customers on a journey - which is different from taking them for a ride! - with the aim of reaching some profitable, sustainably green oasis. Apparently you’re taking your staff, suppliers and investors with you. Sounds great. But do you know exactly where your destination is, and do you have a reliable route to get you there?

I know you’re probably sick of me asking this question, because it’s an annual ask - but why are there no print companies exhibiting at The Surface Design Show, which ends in London today? Given that inkjet can print onto virtually anything, why aren’t we getting that message across to the creative sector by putting examples right in front of their eyes at events where they actually congregate? Perhaps it’s too big a cost for individual PSPs - but I’m back to harping on about having a ‘pavillion of print possibilities’ - with really eye-opening examples of what’s achievable - that is perhaps industry funded and taken to key creative hubs. It must be achievable????

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