Welcome to the PrintWeek Top 500, our bellwether report on the industry's biggest operators.
Before you read on, though, you should prepare yourself for a shock: sales and profits are up!
Weighted average sales have grown by over 9% year-on-year and pre-tax profit margins have risen for the third consecutive year, which does all seem to fly in the face of the commercial reality. However, once you factor in the enforced impact of natural selection, driven by the tough trading conditions, then it does actually make sense.
Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating and once the general market conditions start to improve, the hope is that the upward trend in margins and profits will accelerate. This is by no means guaranteed though.
The structural change in the industry will continue long after the recession, so while the strong may have survived, their real test will come in how they respond to those ongoing technological and structural changes. The signs, however, are already positive.
There’s little doubt that overall volumes of some traditional printed products will continue to decline, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘value’ of the market has to mirror that descent. It could just mean that the mix is changing and we need to focus on adding value in areas other than ink on paper, whether its cross-media applications, marketing services, clever applications or just good old fashioned high-quality customer service.
Because if you look at some of the companies that are thriving in this year’s Top 500, that’s exactly what they all seem to be doing.