Wed, Jul

Well, what are your thoughts on Fespa 2021 with just one day of the show left to run? I have to admit that my attention has rather been drawn towards Print4All in Italy next year - or rather the conversational journey that its stakeholders have embarked upon in regards to print's future. I can't take any credit for the report you will find at https://bit.ly/3lxZ46X - I've merely posted it on our website as a means of getting it 'out there'. Over the years we've raised lots of the topics highlighted, but despite all the wonderful innovation that is going on, I'm not sure how urgent the print sector considers some of these issues to be. Have a gander and let me know your thoughts...maybe we can together mover things along a bit?

At the end of last week labels and packaging paper company Feldmuehle said that due to increased energy costs it would be implementing a temporarily surcharge of 100 Euros per tonne for all its products as of 18 October 2021 deliveries. That surcharge is on top of an already announced 10% increase from October, and the company has said it will remain until energy levels come down to a “reasonable level”. How concerned are you about further hikes in consumables price hikes in the large-format print space?

If accepting help is a sign of strength, proactively seeking it must put you in the mountain-moving category. And perhaps that’s what some of you feel you’re having to do to keep business moving forward. Our Widthwise survey of PSPs at the start of this year showed a great deal of optimism within the sector, but also, that to succeed businesses needed to be able to flex and adapt. We’ve seen how many large-format PSPs have diversified and rethought their strategies over the last 18 months or so, but we also know that change is a constant, and that managing it can be - difficult! Getting help where and when required seems a logical step.

Perhaps it’s time for input from outside sources? In this issue we talk to MacroArt MD Michael Green, on the value of bringing in non-executive directors - the company having appointed a non-exec chairman earlier in the year to add “a further depth of experience and fresh eyes in respect of previously unconsidered opportunities”. We also take a look at the Made Smarter Leadership programme, a cross-sector initiative that brings together business leaders from various industries to look into digital transformation. Have a read and see what you think.

Change is also coming in the shape of the Plastic Tax in April 2022, so we look into what you need to do in preparation. And we bring you the detail of the new BPIF Display and POS 2 Recycling Scheme, where help is continually provided to green-up your operations.

Wishing you well in this continually evolving sector.

Few of the 195 PSPs that responded to our Widthwise poll this year felt there was a huge need for further technical development in the sector. At Fespa Global Expo swissQprint will be one of the exhibitors showing new printers and hoping to prove otherwise. I’d love you to come back to me post show (even if your visit is virtual!) if what you see there wows you.

With October came furlough-free business operation, so I have one quick question today - how has that impacted your business? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks

This week sees me chairing our annual Widthwise Roundtable discussions on the state of the large-format digital inkjet print space. On Tuesday I spoke with a number of print chiefs about how they’re coping with the ‘great reset’, and today I talk with suppliers about the challenges and opportunities ahead. I’ll be reporting back to you in due course, but if you want to contact me in the meantime with your own take, I’d be happy to hear from you. Just drop me an email or pick up the phone.

Should Two Sides - and/or other print industry bodies - jump on the bandwagon and use the guerrilla billboard poster tactics of Brandalism to shout about the environmental credentials of paper and print? Its satirical, eye-catching and thought provoking printed posters criticising Barclays and other high street banks for their ‘greenwashing’ are certainly grabbing attention. Could this industry build on the tactics to make the public aware of greenwashing related to print? Just putting it out there. What are your thoughts?

…and how do we get it? Over the years we’ve penned what must be hundreds of articles – and even published two ‘Think Bigger’ books of wide-format work for the creative community – to highlight the possibilities within this sector. CMYUK’s new Creatives in Residence Live youth internship programme is great - bringing in those that may never have considered a print-related career. But it’s not just designers we want to influence – there are so many other groups of people we need to reach and inform about career (as well as applications) potential. Where is your biggest need – and how are you going about finding the right calibre of people to help grow your business?

Yes, the Christmas stuff is appearing in the shops, which has me wondering how the festive season is looking for those of you involved in the retail sector. Is there a splurge of activity or are things relatively quiet from a print perspective compared to ‘normal’ years?

It’s good to see that those of you wanting to travel to Amsterdam for Fespa Global Print Expo 2021 next month will be able to do so much more easily thanks to travel restriction changes in the Netherlands - I know the quarantine situation was preventing many of you from making plans to attend. Will the scrapping of the quarantine requirement for UK visitors change your mind about going?

Over the last couple of months we’ve seen a number of polls and reports on how digital tools and alerts are adversely impacting staff with hybrid working patterns. Do you still have many people homeworking for part of their time, or have you now pretty much brought back everyone on-site? Where do you feel they are most productive - and do digital comms/tools have anything to do with it, for better or worse?

Off the back of the Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey ditching a return to the office order, debate surrounding WFH rages on. 89% of European companies plan on having a hybrid workforce post-pandemic, with 92% keen to explore more progressive workplaces policies including ‘core working’ hours and four-day work weeks. This is according to new research by Owl Labs, which recently polled 2,000 EMEA business leaders. Wondering what your take is on hybrid working?

Now that exhibitions and trade shows are beginning to re-emerge I’m wondering if many large-format PSPs will take stands to show-off their newly diversified product ranges to new potential customers. Printers have largely eschewed this type of self-publicity in the past. Has that changed - or do you still reckon there are better, more efficient ways of reaching new markets?

I’ve just seen a fab coffee dispensing billboard installation. As a queue formed by the interactive poster outside the new Jägermeister Coffee Haus in London, I did wonder how ‘we’ - the large-format print sector - could make more of a noise about the creative potential of print. Can we make more ‘wow’ moments and better use them to our advantage?

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