Print's plight highlighted in Sky News report

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, October 16, 2020

Sky News has responded to the IPIA and BAPC's repeated calls to the national media to highlight the plight of thousands of print businesses facing closure by the end of the year without support.

Abbot Print's Alasdair Browne featured on Sky News earlier this week
Abbot Print's Alasdair Browne featured on Sky News earlier this week

In a special economic report segment about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on unemployment that aired on Wednesday (14 October), the point was made that print is going to be part of a wave of 4.5 million redundancies unless something is done.

Luton-based trade printer Abbot Print, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in July this year, was featured on the programme. The company lost 80% of its revenue at the start of the pandemic and had to make five of its 30 staff redundant.

The company's managing director Alasdair Browne, who is a member of the IPIA council, told Sky News about his fears that local lockdowns will make more job cuts inevitable.

“The next step, where we're looking at the work coming in, and the type of work coming in, and how we're going to react to the various sectors that are going to be impacted by the next lot of lockdowns, is that we will have to make probably more permanent redundancies based on the fact we've got to keep trimming and trimming and trimming.”

Browne told Printweek about the other points he made in the interview that were not aired by Sky News.

“One point was that the government hasn't listened through the furlough phase. The first phase of it was fine and it was good, but I was making the point that with the phase we're in now, the print industry is entwined in all sectors and regions, and if [the government] help a particular sector, like hospitality, they've got to bear in mind that that also has an impact on the print industry, so where do we get help from?

“And if they shut the North East, for example, that hurts the print industry all across the country, especially the North East.”

He added: “Another point I was making is that in the next phase we've got, the print industry is in need, not just sector and region-specific, but we do need help and we are left with little alternative but to trim our employment to suit what we've got and there's not much else we can do.

“I also made the point that you've got to bear in mind that you can't easily pick up another printer, and trimming is something you really don't want to do, both for family reasons of the people and also training.”

Browne said the company's turnover has been going back up by around 10% to 15% every month, although is still “far short of where we were”, but had been recovering before the new lockdown tier system was introduced this week.

“We're luckier than many printers because as a trade printer we've got a broad base of customers and sectors that we cover,” he added.

The IPIA and BAPC said they will use the Sky News coverage as part of their ongoing efforts to lobby the government for support.

The two organisations have also reiterated their call for printers to put forward their case to the government directly, by urging them to write to both their MP as well as The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in writing and by email.

Separately, Bluetree Group's new Mask Box business has also received recent TV coverage, with director James Kinsella appearing on BBC's Look North to speak about the new venture, which will see it provide around 400 new jobs in Rotherham.

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