Tue, Jun

With Fespa 2013 and it’s associated shows just around the corner, I’m prompted yet again to ask all of you running wide-format print operations, do you ever actually exhibit at shows? Take the European Sign Expo, incorporating Screenmedia Expo, right next door to Fespa at ExCeL. Organisers say it will enable visitors “to see the latest innovations in printed media, and explore the full range of multi-channel solutions in the visual communications sector, from print to conventional signage, digital signage and DOOH media”. Given all the noise about integrated print, shouldn’t print companies be pushing the envelope and showing visitors – i.e. potential customers - just what they can produce…

Fespa 2013 is going to be awash with new ink offerings if the influx of releases about show introductions is anything to go by - great news for anyone happy to shop around in what’s becoming an increasingly competitive marketplace. The effect must be to prompt a change in the cost structure used by printer manufacturers making their real money from ink sales. So will we see hardware costs increase to offset reducing ink princes?

Do you see a place for 3D printing devices within your own operation? I’ve certainly had some interesting conversations with printers considering their potential usage. Let me know if you see scope for such manufacturing technology within your business.

The general state of the economy continues to haunt us, it being the highest polling major concern for business in 2013/14 in the Widthwise Survey 2013. Interestingly, and especially when seen in context of the latest BDRC Finance Monitor (that showed the number of firms using external finance dipped to a new low in the first three months of 2013), the availability/cost of finance polled a lower concern for Widthwise participants than it did last year. What’s your take on that? You can see what Image Reports thinks by reading the Widthwise Report of course, but you’ll have to wait just a few more days. It should be ready from download from the website (http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/industry-data/widthwise) by the end of this week.

Are you ready to be taken over? According to the findings of the Image Reports’ Widthwise Survey 2013, almost a third of the responding 223 firms are open to talks about acquisition, merger or creating a formal partnership with another business. That might suggest a sector in trouble, but conversely margins are improving and over half expect digitally produced wide-format print to become a bigger part of their total turnover.

It’s great to see the likes of Stylo Graphics and Talking Print working together to push the boundaries of wide-format print with the likes of the footie fan ‘talking’ poster for the Watford Vs Crystal Palace playoff last Monday. There’s a video interview with Talking Print founder David Hyams on the Image Reports’ website (at http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/videos) if you want to know more about how the company can work with printers to deliver integrated print projects.

What kind of ROI do you expect on a UV flatbed printer? And how much of that return do you expect to come from new customers/applications/markets thanks to the capability of the technology – especially if it’s your first UV flatbed? Obviously ROI is dependent on many factors, but what kind of figures do manufacturers need to be throwing about to convince you to invest?

According to the findings of the 2013 Widthwise Survey - due to be published in the Widthwise Reports alongside the June issue of Image Reports -  wide-format print producers expect to curtail their investment in software packages. What are your thoughts on that?

Web-to-print must be one of the hottest topics of debate within wide-format, its pros and cons constantly tossed about. But if sourcing the right software is one of the issues holding you back then a US consultancy might just have introduced the very thing to get you excited again. Take a look at the new W2P Finder from Web2Print Experts and let me know what you think.

It’s well known that handling corrugated board can be a right pain in the proverbial. So how do you do it to best effect? Those going to Fespa 2013 will get a chance to see a video link to a demo of Fuji’s new solution – but it's a weighty beast by necessity. So is the demand there for corrugated production? I’d be interested to know if it’s an area you expect to see grow.

The launch of the BPIF Graduate Management Programme has set me down the well travelled road that is management training. We’re all aware that strategic leadership is key to continued success, but where do you develop those skills? There are more self-help management guides than you could plough your way through in a lifetime, but there must be more efficient and innovative ways to become a better manager. Let me know what’s worked (or not!) for you.

Of course it plays into HP’s hands to grow demand for its latex printers and output by offering marketing assistance to companies buying into the technology, but who’s to complain about anything that helps put wide-format printing in front of a wider audience? Seems a win, win situation to me. Wonder if other manufacturers will help build business in a similar fashion…

‘Integrated print’ has become a buzz term. The key takeaway from the Fespa Global Summit at the beginning of this year was that printers have to become much more proactive in embracing other technologies and in using them within their print offering to deliver customers their much demanded campaign analytics and, in a way, to ‘re-launch’ print as a branding and communications tool for the modern era.

This enews reaches you as I prepare to wend my way to Birmingham for the start of Sign and Digital UK at the NEC tomorrow. Obviously I’ll bring you all the news and highlights of the show – but I’d be interested in hearing from you as to what you aim to gain from attending the event, and afterwards, what particularly caught your eye. If there’s something you think I should follow up let me know…

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