No one needs reminding that the past few years have taken their toll on the industry, but printers are displaying a general optimism when it comes to investment
Some may scoff at the thought of an investment supplement at a time when lending is tighter than many printers’ margins, but the pages of PrintWeek and the results of this survey show that printers have made the best of a difficult situation over the past year.
An impressive 65% of respondents invested in kit over the past year, and around the same number are planning to do so in the upcoming 12 months. Of the former, the majority bought new rather than secondhand and used their own cash for finance. Interestingly, despite the apparent stonewalling of banks when printers come calling, the second highest number of respondents found the money for an investment from their current bank.
Of the 317 printers that responded, the biggest proportion by far, some 51%, are serving the SME market, with the next biggest sector being business-to-consumer at 26%. Unsurprisingly, run lengths for all clients are falling, with nearly 43% of respondents believing they will fall by a further 10%-20% in the coming year.
While nearly one-third of respondents said they were not intending to diversify into new markets, for those that are, the public sector tops of the list for many, which is perhaps surprising given that the majority of the coalition government’s public sector cuts are set to come into force over the next year, slashing budgets. Perhaps, however, printers see an opportunity to pick up new contracts as government departments and local authorities renegotiate existing print supply deals or put more work out to tender having been forced to close their inplants.
What is similarly interesting is that a rather shocking 7.5% of respondents do not have a website for their company. In the age when consumers and businesses use the web as the first point of contact for all needs, this would appear to be a massive oversight. However, it may be that these printers simply do not need a web presence – a subject that would certainly warrant a closer look.
Inevitably, there were some less than encouraging numbers that came out of the survey, with the reduction of print capacity a major theme. A massive 88% of respondents predicted that the number of print companies would deplete in the next year, and most think that administrations and liquidations will be responsible for those failures.
That said, there is a general sense of optimism apparent in the results of this survey, with the majority of respondents saying they are still making a profit, albeit a small one of between 1%-10%, while 43% are confident of being more profitable over the next two years.