The day kicked off with the BPIF Training Awards and was followed by a presentation by Richard Archer, commercial director at Cactus Graphics, who shared his inspiring story and journey through the industry, and motivational speaker Paul Sloane, who shared his ideas on lateral thinking, innovation and leadership.
The afternoon started with the returning AGM, during which BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold praised the industry for its resilience during the pandemic.
“Overall, our sector has come through the Covid challenge in pretty good shape. We all know that we seem to leap from one major challenge to another so this is emphatically not the time to relax – the BPIF has been extremely active over the last 12 months but there’s a lot more to do.”
Jarrold highlighted the organisation’s recent activities, which have included representing the sector to government.
“This is critically important work to help government and those in authority understand the implications of the decisions they’re considering, and what they can do to help our sector thrive. Recent areas of focus include adjusting to life outside the EU and consultations on issues as varied as late payment through to apprenticeship performance and financial support for the sector.”
He said the BPIF meets with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on a regular basis every few weeks, and that BEIS had been “extremely helpful for us”, with current themes revolving around importing and exporting post-Brexit, the cost of doing business – notably energy, and how best to support investment and skills in productivity.
Jarrold said MP visits are now “back on the cards” and urged members to get in touch with the BPIF to help arrange them as “these are a valuable and excellent way both to raise the profile of our sector and to build our contacts as an industry for the future”.
In its end-of-year financial report, total income at the BPIF decreased by 1.62% from £4.431m to £4.359m. This included subscription income of £1.947m, down 3.95% on the £2.027m achieved a year ago.
The annual Print Industry Reception was hosted at the House of Lords in the afternoon, with invited guests happy to be able to meet and network again at the first running of the event since 2019.
Just yards away from the goings on at Westminster, which ultimately culminated in Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing his resignation this morning, many of the event’s speeches were understandably politically charged, with speakers including Jarrold, Lord Teverson MP, and Unite national officer Louisa Bull touching on current events and their effects on the industry and business generally.
“We can’t all get together and not reflect on what’s happened in the industry in the last two years and acknowledge that while some parts of the sector are now coming out of the woods, a lot of our sites, our companies and our members have not managed to stay afloat and others are still struggling,” said Bull.
“You only need to read Printweek and speak to Jo [Francis, contributing editor] to realise how much our print sector in particular has taken a hit in the last few years.
“While much of paper and packaging saw a busy boom period, those companies now seem to be having their challenges as well. We’ve got rising energy, disruption of the supply chain with raw materials, high inflation and, once again, a weak pound. And that’s without talking at all about our government.
“And this is just not hitting employers. Unite members – your workers, our members – are equally challenged and the discussions around the bargaining table this year have so far been tough, and I believe will continue to be so.
“However, it has also shown the strengths in our relationships that we have here. Unite, the BPIF and the CPI all played their part in lobbying government on behalf of the industry during the pandemic and did so jointly to ensure our sector was not forgotten.”
At the reception, Jacky Sidebottom-Every, former joint managing director of Glossop Cartons, was given the Award for Outstanding Achievement.
There was also recognition for Ethan Hull from Northend Print, who won the Victor Watson Award, following a speech from Robert McClements, president of BPIF specialist interest group Creative Digital Industries (CDI).
Speaking to Printweek at the event, Hull said he was “honoured” to win.
“I can only thank Nigel [Stubley, Northend managing director] and everyone here. I do a bit of everything, I’m eager to learn – put me on a machine and I’ll give it a go. I work on the press, on the laminator, a little bit of everything.”
Stubley added: “Ethan had been taken on as an apprentice by another Sheffield company that I merged with in 2018, and then he joined Northend. There were only about 10 people at his previous company but we’ve got about 40 so he’s got a bit more opportunity to try a few more things.
“We’re delighted that he could come down here today and we’re very happy that Robert suggested that we put his name forward.”