Sun, Jul

“One of the benefits of lockdown, is that each month I have chosen a different piece of software ‘I’ve been meaning to learn’, and have tried to spend half a day on it - which soon adds up over a month. Plus the costs of online learning are next to zero!” A quote from a LinkedIn ‘friend’ in the industry, which I thought I’d share with you all. Just as inspiration. After all - software development and implementation is going to be a real focus moving forward. So I’m told!

I have been talking to a number of print chiefs over the last week, many of whom are worried that once the furlough scheme ends they won’t be able to afford to keep staff on – and yet can’t afford to lay them off because the redundancy bill would be so high. Anybody got a solution?

Yes, everyone and his brother are manufacturing facemasks, but with the launch of the 76in-wide dye-sub SureColor SC-F10000 I’m wondering to what extent you’ve put printed textiles on your ‘must deliver’ list. We’ve talked about the opportunities to extend into new vertical markets for years. Is now the time to be driving that forward?

Just a friendly word to the wise – as of today my colleague will be calling those of you kind enough to have taken part in the 2020 Widthwise poll at the start of the year. Normally, by now, the analysis is done and the report is ready to deliver. Not this year. Like everything else, it's been impacted by Covid-19. There's no point delivering you out-of-date information, so we're asking a few pertinent questions to ensure we deliver something that truly reflects the state of things in the UK large-format print sector. If you would take a few minutes to respond I'd be grateful – and you'll get more worthwhile data. Thank you in anticipation.

Are you putting the flags out for the 4 July reopening of pubs, restaurants etc.? Wondering how much of a boost the move is likely to give the print sector. Are you benefitting?

Nicole Spencer - operations director at RMC Digital and president of Fespa UK Association - wants your help in developing a nationwide strategy to encourage people to come and work in print. Having kicked off her appeal of LinkedIn she’s already spoken with a number of PSPs and other associations to see how this can best be achieved, so get your voice heard. Give Nicole a call at RMC.

Mmmm - interesting that the IPIA has partnered with Xeretec and the online educational publisher, Twinkl, to offer cashback on printing equipment to support teachers, parents and carers across the UK during school closures. On the topic of education, wondering if there’s mileage in some sort of joined-up deal on helping schools out with printed large-format distancing graphics, room dividers etc. I know lots of large-format PSPs are already helping out educational establishments at local level, but is there more we can do?

A note sent out by Matic Media MD Richard McCombe towards the end of last week warned customers of the company’s ecommerce Graphic Warehouse Trade Print site that “due to the recent change in government advice allowing non-essential business’s to return to work, every courier across the UK is now facing a huge influx of collection requests and deliveries meaning temporarily next day delivery services are no longer guaranteed and we are noticing an increase in missing consignments. In addition to this, many of our courier providers have sourced subcontractor drivers to help tackle the workload, a lot of these subcontractors operate on a non-digital paper system meaning it may not always be possible to offer live tracking on your parcel. We would kindly ask all of customers where possible to order two days in advance to allow for delays.” You facing the same disruption due to external delivery issues?

I’m guessing few of you feel too secure right now. But is the reason your business’s lack of cybersecurity? At a recent seminar Colin McMahon of Keypoint Intelligence said connected printers could be the weak link, letting hackers into your networks. Ever even considered that? With cybersecurity an increasing problem maybe you should…

I’ve shared some key stats from a survey on shopping UK habits in this newsletter, because not only does it perhaps indicate important high street/retail trends (though yes, we do have to bear in mind that it’s from an ecommerce company!) - but it also flags up some interesting info on corporate/company responsibility. Last week at the PrintFuture virtual seminar, Simon Biltcliffe, Webmart chief exec talking on the topic 'Reboot Your Business' said: "To attract the best young talent, you've got to get the ethics right and make it about more than money." What are your thoughts on reimagining your business for a new normal and on attracting the right talent to get you there?

A Thursday thought: “Bring in young talent, listen to them, and overpay them.” That’s what you need to do to reboot your business according to Simon Biltcliffe, CEO of Webmart UK, speaking at this week’s PrintFuture virtual summit. As he reiterated, “business is an aggregation of talent. The real advantage is having the best. And to get that talent you’ve got to be proactive and on the look out for people with empathy, creativity and curiosity - because down the line computers will do the rest.”

Fujifilm is working with metal packaging printing firm Tinmasters to develop metal decoration possibilities using UV inkjet print technologies. We’ve often talked about the fact that you can print onto just about anything these days - and we’ve seen printing onto cotton wool, grass, even ice for goodness sake. So often the sticking point is not technical capability but route to market and the effort required into creating new customer bases - but as so many PSPs find themselves in the position of having to reinvent themselves I’m wondering if metal printing - and other ‘niche’ high-value applications - are getting a real airing? Would be interested in hearing from any of you developing more unusual inkjet applications.

What do you want from a webinar right now? So many manufacturers and distributors are running them, many marketed as ‘educational’ but really just lightly veiled product promotions. Are these useful? Do you think they’re a good move in the current climate?

Is there a large-format orientated PSP out there NOT moving production to PPE or other Covid-19 related products? Do you think this is the ‘new normal’ for some time to come? And, if so, what are you doing to realign your company? If you want to talk, I’d love to hear from you.

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