Fri, Aug

Given it’s World Password Day it seems timely to ask if your company is one of the unfortunate number that have suffered from cyber crime of late. We keep hearing that it's on the rise, and especially among SMEs, so here’s hoping you’re managing to protect your data and your business.

Are you closed this coming Bank Holiday Monday, or do you work through? If the latter, how do you compensate your staff? Do you still pay extra time for Bank Holiday and weekend working etc? Just wondering how the pay and conditions landscape is changing…

Can I take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of you who took part in the Image Reports Widthwise Survey 2022, which closed on Friday. This is the 15th consecutive year we’ve polled UK/Ireland-based large-format PSPs so that we can provide a detailed analysis of the sector from a grassroots perspective. I’ll start the number crunching and will deliver you the Widthwise report - free of charge as always - in the summer. Thanks again for your valuable input.

Agfa’s acquisition of Inca Digital printers - or rather Screen’s sale of it - has set tongues wagging, and it’s not surprising given the forecasts for the growth in digitally printed packaging. Many a digital inkjet manufacturer is eying up its options and fathoming out how to get a piece of that pie, so we can expect plenty of jostling for position over the coming months. Is packaging an area where you’re also now vying for attention?

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy Easter - hope you manage to grab a bit of decent downtime. I’ll be back with the next newsletter next Thursday.

Everything is going up - perhaps even your profits? If you’re rolling around laughing at the mere idea, you won’t be alone. But how are you going to shell out more if you’re not making more? I’m sure Matic Media MD and Print Scotland vice president Richard McCombe isn’t the only one thinking print prices need to go up if PSPs are to remain sustainable businesses. He explains his thinking on p13.

Of course, there are always hidden costs as well as the blooming obvious ones, and the reclassification of the chemicals gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (BDO) - used in ink production - and impending legal changes on their use, could cost you dear. The trade associations coming under the GPMA umbrella are doing a fabulous job in getting the print industry’s concerns in front of Government and in trying to find a workable solution, but just in case the timeline stretches away as deadlines near you’d be wise to mug-up on the situation. Turn to p22 for the low-down.

Also worth mugging-up on is how the CarbonQuota/Tharstern collaboration could help your business. Together they’ve created a tool that allows you to provide instant carbon footprints on every quote and invoice - automatically - using your own in-house data. I think it’s a milestone development, so see what you think. The info is on p19.

Talking of eco considerations, as we’re all increasingly bound to do, have you got the POPAI ‘Impact22’ sustainability summit in your diary?  I talked to its chairman and sustainability director, Martin Kingdon for this issue’s Talking Point Q+A to find out where the organisation thinks large-format print service providers fit into the scheme of things. Read what he has to say on p16.  

All, this, plus a Fespa Global preview, a look at the growth in cardboard engineering…oh, and a bit of musing on the Metaverse. Hope it proves a profitable read.

P.S. The Image Reports Widthwise poll is still open at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VMKJZFX  If you’re still to take part I’d really appreciate you doing so. My thanks to those of you that already have!

I saw something on LinkedIn this week that made me want to punch the air. The post - by Lothian Building Supplies MD - read: “All staff to receive £120 per month cost of living allowance until further notice”. He went on to explain: “We are nothing without our staff. Fuel and energy bills are through the roof - it’s hard out there for everyone. That’s why we are now introducing a £120 per month extra payment for all staff, irrespective of role. It won’t fix everything wrong with the world, but hopefully it will ease the pressure on staff and their families just a little.” Bet he has a loyal staff. Are you doing anything similar?

OK, so I’m at the start of what I’m thinking is going to be a steep learning curve - and guessing you may be too. A number of press releases have drifted into my inbox highlighting the speedy rise of ‘no-code’ tools, with insights company Gartner saying that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by businesses/organisations will use no-code or low-code tools. Needless to say, I’m looking into the issue. Is it something you’re already investigating, if not actively using in your own business? I’d love to have a chat and hear where you feel the key benefits are/will be.

It’s interesting to hear that OPM (Labels and Packaging) Group has signed up to the United Nations Global Compact to support its customers’ sustainability strategies. On announcing the move earlier this week, OPM MD Chris said: “As supply partners to a wide range of brands and retailers we recognise the intense pressure that our customers are under to improve their sustainability performance. That’s not just about producing packaging from ‘greener’ materials but ensuring supply partners are engaged and driving forward on all environmental, social and governance matters. By working with the United Nations we have a clear strategy and mission in place.” Wonder if anyone in the wide-format sector can see themselves taking things this far?

Clerkenwell Design Week is back this year, and will take place across various venues in London’s EC1, 24-26 May. Forming part of a new festival location in Charterhouse Square will be ‘Covered’, showcasing surface design, and in the Fabric Nightclub will be ‘POP’, hosting pop-up brand activations and immersive installations. May be worth popping over there to rub shoulders with creative, innovative types?

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.

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