Editor’s comment: Web squeeze could presage a new era

Darryl Danielli
Monday, October 27, 2014

It has been a busy few weeks at PrintWeek Towers, what with work starting on the Top 500, last week’s Awards and the Power 100 earlier in the month, and it seems we’re not alone in being under the cosh.

The web offset sector, after a turbulent few years of closures, lay-offs and capacity reductions seems to be running at full tilt – with some in the sector reporting schedules full, as near as dammit, until the end of the year.

This puts some buyers into the relatively unknown territory of struggling to place work in the UK, probably for the first time in many of their professional lives.

How long that will continue is unclear, what with Polestar’s first new 96pp Goss coming on stream as I type, a second scheduled to go into production before the end of the year and a 64pp short-grain set to go live early in the new year, with the second phase of the investment, another 64pp press and two 16pp cover presses, slated for next year.

However, in the short term it has to be good news for web printers and if Polestar is good to its word and uses its massive re-equip to simply replace inefficient capacity rather than increase firepower across the group, then the situation might just continue into 2015.

Whether it signals a long-term righting of supply and demand depends on a number of other factors though, such as whether or not buyers start looking at offshoring as a long-term solution.

I guess a lot of that depends on what happens in the next few months, because if their print suppliers get too cocky, or greedy, or let service slip, then they just might.

But if buyers and printers work together to get through this capacity squeeze, who knows, perhaps it’s the beginning of a new era... 

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