Coronavirus impact intensifies across print

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has continued to sweep across and impact every corner of the print industry.

UK printers have implemented various measures amid the coronavirus outbreak
UK printers have implemented various measures amid the coronavirus outbreak

The majority of UK printers appear to have remained open for business, albeit often with adapted operations and having to cope with a swathe of cancelled jobs. A number of firms have taken to social media and email channels to update customers on their situation.

In an email to customers, Dorset-based AS Finishing said: “The health and well-being of the team is paramount and many of our administrative and factory staff are now working remotely.

“As a result, we have been able to negate any effects of a company shut down and we’re operating ‘business as usual’ with zero delays to projects we're currently working on and no foreseeable issues with any future jobs.”

In a post on Wolverhampton-based CS Labels' website, meanwhile, managing director Simon Smith said: “The business remains unaffected and continues to implement contingencies in response to the epidemic where appropriate.”

He said policies relating to staff sickness have been reviewed and amended in line with Public Health guidelines, increased hygiene measures have been implemented, and stockholding has been increased to limit any impact on supply to its customers. Business contingency plans have also been created in the event of supply chain failure.

South Yorkshire-based Route 1 Print said in a customer email that it has added a range of new services, including custom sizes and quantities, bespoke packing and collation, bespoke cutting, non-standard stocks and more.

The company added that its equipment is still producing print and that the business still has zero confirmed coronavirus cases. Its cleaning regime has been stepped up, and the business is checking the temperature of all of its staff as they enter the building.

“Social distancing measures are in place, including the move of all possible roles to remote working. Our account management team are still reachable on all the usual channels,” the company said.

Meanwhile, in the publishing industry many companies have now enforced working from home measures.

James Wildman, chief executive of Hearst UK and president of Europe, said: “The health and safety of our people and their families is our number one priority. Therefore, we have strongly recommended employees to work from home for the remainder of March 2020 in light of the current situation.”

New cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at the offices of Conde Nast in London and the Irish Times in Dublin, according to Press Gazette.

Newsstand magazine distribution issues have also arisen and look likely to intensify.

In an email sent out to its customers, Seymour Distribution managing director Tracy O’Sullivan said: “We are being asked by many of our publishers what they should do with regards to supplies both in the UK and internationally, as well [as] what they should do with promotional commitments. This is ever changing and will be dependent on titles and retailer and this should be discussed with your account contact.

“What we know so far is that travel sales have obviously been materially impacted and we do need to reduce supplies to these retailers globally. At the moment supermarket sales appear to be holding up, however as the consumer changes where they shop, this could change, and we may expect a move towards more local shopping such as the Co-op.

However despite sales levels we will be challenged by decisions that retailers may make, for example Waitrose have this morning asked us to reduce all inbound supplies to them by 40%. This is to reduce workload on their already stretched staff who are trying to keep essential items on the shelves.”

Elsewhere in the industry, more meetings and events have been cancelled or postponed, including Stora Enso's Annual General Meeting, which had been due to take place tomorrow (19 March) but will now be held “at a later date”.

The Stationers’ Company, meanwhile, has made the decision to cancel this year’s Innovation Excellence Awards, which had been due to take place at Stationers' Hall on 30 June 2020.

In a boost for struggling businesses, Compass Business Finance said that, as an accredited lender under the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) programme, it will deliver the British Business Bank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which was announced by the chancellor during the Budget last week and will temporarily replace the EFG.

It will offer asset finance via CBILS to smaller businesses, predominantly in the manufacturing sector.

CBILS provides lenders with a government-backed guarantee for up to 80% of the outstanding balance of eligible facilities, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

It supports facilities of between £1,000 and £1.2m to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance from their lender due to having inadequate security to meet the lender’s normal credit requirements.

Compass Business Finance director Mark Nelson said: “These are unprecedented times and amid the uncertainty, CBILS is one way in which we can extend finance to companies who may not otherwise have the required security.

“There are also many other finance options available to businesses who may need to release additional funds at this time or over the coming months.”

How is your business coping with the coronavirus outbreak and what impact have you seen so far? Comment below or email


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