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Sat, Nov

In the words of Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, print "is no longer a male dominated, old fogy industry". Is she right? At the Print Futures Awards she hosted on behalf of the Printing Charity at the House of Lords last Thursday, you might have thought so. Of the 78 18-30 year-olds that were accepting financial awards to help them with their training, there was an exact 50/50 split between male and female. But that’s hardly representative of the print sector as a whole is it - certainly not at the management end of things anyway. And when it comes to the hot potato that is equality of pay, well.... So should we as an industry be doing something more proactive about this unbalanced state of affairs?

I'm about to start research into the hybrid inkjet printer market, but being candid, do established large-format PSPs still consider them a viable option? And what questions would you have me put to their developers? Let me know - my aim, as always, is to raise your concerns and report back to you!

Is it just a fluke that I’m hearing of so many sales-staff moves at the moment or is there some kind of summer swapsies going on? And the next question has got to be – is it getting harder to retain good staff?

The issue of poor cashflow has been raising its ugly head again of late – with a number of PSPs saying that they are being squeezed by suppliers at one end and customers at the other. What’s your take? Are things tougher now than they were this time last year?

Want to get more from what you’ve got? OK, it’s a rhetorical question, but the next one isn’t. What do you know about value stream mapping (VSM)? My guess is that it’s probably not as much as they do at Data Image in Leicester.

Speaking with a PSP about its diversification into soft signage the talk turned to the difficulty in finding staff with the industrial sewing expertise to work in the finishing department. The problem has set back its whole development strategy. Where are skills gaps causing you the most hassle?

How important is it to you to get all your large-format supplies from a company that can meet all your needs? I ask in light of Antalis doing deals with Revolution Digital, Granthams and Agfa to become a one-stop-shop for everything large-format. Just wondering how many well-established large-format PSPs value this kind of service...

The Creative Industries Federation is holding its inaugural International Conference at London’s Barbican Milton Court on 12 July. The event - which will provide business-critical insight into global political, economic and diplomatic trends as they affect the creative industries - aims to offer everything organisations need to know as the UK considers its new role in the world in the light of Brexit. Could be worth getting along there....

It has been brought to my attention that Atech celebrates its 35th birthday this year, and as it points out, not many companies have been in the business so long under the same ownership. Has yours?

Interiors will be a key focus at Viscom 2017 in Dusseldorf on 18 - 20 October. Some 300 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, which on the opening day will run a new programme at which invited PSPs will join with 'advertising technicans' – organiser speak, not mine – and manufacturers/distributors to learn about digital printing for interiors. Apparently ‘independent viscom experts’ will also tell you how to find clients or project partners, and how to finance required kit! So if the décor market is in your sights perhaps you should be angling for an invite!

It’s great to hear what the Printing Charity is doing to help people associated with print, but maybe you could help it do even more by raising awareness of its existence among your staff. Before you forget, go stick a note of the staff noticeboard!

As you read this I’ll be sitting in on a discussion between a well known supplier to the large-format sector and one of its customers, part of a two-day business investigation to determine strategic investment at the PSP. Would you be willing to have such a detailed and frank discussion with suppliers?

I’m out and about much of this week, investigating the scope of the interiors market for large-format PSPs looking to diversify into that space. If you are involved in more unusual aspects of interior print I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve got my swingometer at the ready and thought I’d conduct my own mini-poll among large-format PSPs - which way do you want the UK to vote today? Let me know.
While thinking polls, I’ll take this chance to advise you that the annual Widthwise Report on the state of the UK/Ireland large-format print sector has just been published. It is now available online to download free of charge at: http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise.  Let me know what you think of that too! I’ll be working on the questions for the 2018 survey before you know it, so if you would like to see something specific added to the list please get in touch.

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