Print industry must find unity in face of danger, leaders warn

Dominic Bernard
Friday, September 30, 2022

Printers must find ways to collaborate with supply chain partners and even competitors to find solutions to the problems facing print, according to a panel of print industry leaders.

User panel: "If we stick together then we can survive," said Bailey
User panel: "If we stick together then we can survive," said Bailey

The panel, speaking yesterday (29 September) at UK&I HP PageWide's The Future of Inkjet event, generally agreed that printers must work together to solve the problems facing the industry, above all, that of rising costs.

The lively conversation, however, did not allow for consensus on exactly what that collaboration would look like.

Chris Ingham, executive director at marketing firm Communisis saw collaboration along the supply chain as the way forward in the face of slimmer margins.

“[Rising costs] will drive the supply chain to come together to create efficiency.

“I think we all look at our own narrow world in terms of how we can become more efficient - but most of that low hanging fruit has been delivered. In a world where costs are going up, you can’t always push that to a client [...] there has to be better collaboration both up and down that supply chain.”

Collaboration up the supply chain won’t just be needed to find efficiencies, however, according to Patrick Headley, CEO of marketing group Go Inspire, who advocated bringing big suppliers on board to petition government.

“We need to harness the likes of HP, who are obviously a massive organisation, to go in to bat for us printers.

“[They should] lobby various parts of the government, to make them recognise that there are challenges posed with energy, and just be a flag-waver for the print industry, which is a massive part of the UK economy.”

Jon Bailey, COO of print marketing group Precision Proco, agreed, adding that the industry would even need to find room for competitors to collaborate.

“It has always been and it will always be about collaboration: collaboration in the supply chain, collaboration with customers, collaboration with our competitors, because if we stick together then then we can survive.”

For Headley, however, working together was not just a means of gaining support from the government in the face of rocketing energy costs. For him, unity would mean strength in the face of rising postage costs.

With business mail rising in cost by 18.6% and advertising mail by 5.6%, his biggest fear was that the Royal Mail would wreck the mailing industry over the next few years.

“I’ve got absolutely no faith whatsoever,” he said.

“I think when they pull their postal prices increase from January to 7 November just because they could - and won’t put their parcel prices up because they’ve got competition - I would suggest that now is the time that we have to do something and lobby.”

How printers might come together to create that unified voice, however, was less certain.

Bailey said: “We do have an issue with is the fact that we’re a forgotten industry within the government.

“We’re a huge industry, but we’re not seen as heavy manufacturing, not seen as technology. We sit in this middle ground [unseen]. That’s the bit I have an issue with.”

Despite the lack of governmental support, Bailey was optimistic of print’s chances for the future.

“The reality is: publishing is growing, volumes are growing in digital and inkjet. They’re steady in litho, but they’re definitely growing in low run and local stuff, so it’s positive. 

“It’s just at the moment, it’s expensive.”

The user panel was speaking at The Future of Inkjet event which took place at the London Stadium. As well as several panel discussions and presentations, the one-day event also served as an introduction to the recently launched PageWide Advantage 2200 series high-speed inkjet press press.

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