Unlocking delayed: industry reacts

Jo Francis
Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Industry figures have reacted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s widely-trailed confirmation that Step 4 of his Roadmap out of Lockdown has been pushed back a month to 19 July.

Boris Johnson making the announcement on the BBC News at Six
Boris Johnson making the announcement on the BBC News at Six

In his address to the nation yesterday evening (14 June), Johnson said: “Now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.

“Once the adults have been overwhelmingly vaccinated, which is what we can achieve in a short space of time, we will be in a far stronger position to keep hospitalisations down, to live with this disease and to complete our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom.”

Step 4, “no limits” on events or social contact, had originally been on the roadmap plan for “no earlier than 21 June”. 

The delay has been described as a “hammer blow” for the already struggling hospitality and live events industry, which in normal times is also responsible for generating a considerable amount of printed matter and collateral.

Some print firms have already fallen by the wayside as a result, including Matthews the Printers which had focused on hospitality clients and decided on an orderly shutdown after all its work effectively dried up. The East London firm shut its doors for the final time at the end of last month.  

Industry figures across a range of roles and organisations told Printweek their reaction to the news.

Charles Jarrold, CEO, BPIF

“From a business point-of-view it’s obviously disappointing, but the government had always given a strong caveat that these were “not before” dates on the roadmap. What we’re seeing in our Outlook survey is quite good evidence of the industry recovering in terms of output and demand. A month’s delay is going to really hurt [some sectors], but I think in the overall context the recovery will continue.”

Andy Kent, division manager, Fujifilm UK Graphic Systems

“Disappointing... our industry needs this ‘freedom’ and for people to have the confidence to arrange / organise events – so in that regard it feels like we will continue to tread water for more and more months.”

Lance Hill, managing director, Eight Days a Week Print Solutions

“The right decision when you look at the data, and the difference another four weeks can make. Life should be valued above everything else, however I fully accept many will be truly hacked off with this decision whose business it affects. Clearly there will be different views depending on which part of the sector you are in and who you service.”

Mike Roberts, managing director, PMG Print Management and IPIA president and council member

“Further delays to areas of hospitality and particularly live events, is a massive blow for some sections of our IPIA membership. Maybe for some businesses with a larger scale or spread within different markets the impact will not be quite as great. It will slow some plans down, but hopefully only slow them down.

"I believe it is the correct decision based on the data and what is currently happening with Delta. It gives the country time to get more 2nd jabs, or jabs for the youngers. People forget the 21st June was a review date not a definite date. I appreciate, and sympathise, for the live events industry and night clubs etc but if it is only four more weeks and the risks are reduced as a result, surely it's the right call?”

Christopher Narayan, founder, Bensons Bookbinding

“It’s all fair and good if your business is getting help of some sort. If like me you have received nothing (after working and paying taxes for 40-plus years ) and have had to use every penny of savings etc, just to get this far, just to survive then of course you’re going to feel yet again that you’ve been thrown under a bus and let down. 

“The stress it causes has been beyond anything I have ever felt in my life. The worrying thing for me is the fact that there will [be] nothing stopping [them] from saying two weeks before July 19th that cases are still rising so will delay further. I mean trust Johnson & Co? Aye right.”

Kerry Holden, CEO Mailbird and Mediascene

“’No earlier than’ has been translated into ‘Definitely on…’. That, in itself is unsurprising, given that most businesses – particularly those in the affected sectors – can’t simply wait and see and get their act together within a two week notice period. I understand their frustration – many of them are my clients.

“That said, I can’t think of anything more bovine than to ignore what the data are suggesting. This thing isn’t going away and we aren’t going to be able to learn to live with it simply by crossing our fingers and hoping for luck. Time, is something we need to use to our advantage in this situation and ensure that previous mistakes – decisions which were not based on any substantive data – do not happen again.

David Ives, distribution agent, Rotoflex

“It's the right decision looking at the numbers. Look how far we've come in six months since the start of the vaccine roll out, let's not blow it now for the sake of another few weeks.”



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