BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold is confident that the print industry is well positioned to navigate the challenges ahead as Brexit draws closer.
Speaking at the BPIF AGM held at the St Bride Foundation in London on Wednesday (4 July), Jarrold said the sector continues to be “as diverse and resilient as ever”.
“I know that whilst many in the sector are really thriving, it’s not easy out there for some businesses right now,” he said, but added that “the scale and diversity of the sector stands us in good stead” and that the industry will continue to “adapt, adjust and thrive.”
Jarrold said BPIF membership had risen slightly to 1,268 in 2017, although he acknowledged that business closures and mergers across the industry have made it harder to recruit new members.
He highlighted the federation’s lobbying efforts over the past year to keep print at the forefront of the minds of the government. This included facilitating many MP visits to BPIF members’ sites, which Jarrold called “a particularly effective way to get your views across to MPs”.
Jarrold also praised BPIF programme director Ursula Daly for her efforts in helping companies to navigate the Apprenticeship Levy, which came into effect in April 2017, but has been criticised for failing businesses.
Despite the national decline in apprenticeship starts, the BPIF said it has maintained its learner numbers at around 550 throughout the year. It now has 130 contracts in place to deliver training with employers across England.
In its end-of-year financial report, total income at the federation decreased by 0.7% from £4.826m to £4.79m.
The pension deficit under the FRS 102 financial reporting standard fell by around 5% from £2.93m to £2.79m and the federation said it “continues to meet all payments due in respect of the pension scheme”.
The annual All-Party Parliamentary Print Group (APPPG) was hosted at the House of Lords in the afternoon and featured speeches from Baroness Donaghy, who highlighted the importance of print, and APPPG vice-chair Kevin Hollinrake MP who shared his own thoughts on Brexit: “I absolutely believe that we will end up with an orderly Brexit that allows business to continue pretty much as it is today.
“I have no doubt that we will come to a conclusion where you can continue trading because we need you to do the jobs in the economy that are fundamental for everything we do – business is the backbone of our economy.”
At the reception Jarrold awarded Alexir Packaging chairman Robert Davison, also chairman of the BPIF Cartons special interest group, with an award for Outstanding Contribution to the UK Printing Industry.
There was also recognition for Precision Printing print finisher Billy Gibbs O’Riordan, who took home the Kathy Woodward Award for Learning.
Agata Labedz, machine operator at KCS Print, and Sophia Djili, project engineer at De La Rue, were joint winners of the Victor Watson Trophy while Alice Murray, account manager at BCQ Group, was highly commended.
Labedz, who moved to the UK from Poland five years ago and started at KCS Print three years ago, called the honour “really nice” and said it was unexpected.
Speaking to PrintWeek after Labedz collected her award, KCS Print managing director Terrye Teverson highlighted her fears over one of the negative impacts that Brexit could have on print.
She said: “Agata is one of the fastest people trained on our Tamarack finishing lines. She’s adding to the productivity of this company, paying her taxes and national insurance and adding to our workforce in a successful way.
“Some of my staff are being told to go home and they are actually at work while other people are on benefits and don’t really want a job. Some people have [returned to their countries] because they don’t feel welcome and we find it very hard to get people.
“We’re short of trained staff because it’s a long and complex process. Agata has got a degree from Poland, she’s well educated, and she’s prepared to come here and work hard and has shown her skill in gaining this award.”