Sat, Mar

Given that Sign and Digital UK has just announced its debate sessions for next month’s show it seemed timely to ask a question that might in itself stimulate a bit of discussion - do we talk enough? If you know me you’ll know I do! But what about players in the wide-format sector in general? Could we learn more if we stood up and spoke our minds a bit more - and listened to those responding? Just asking and wondering if you fancy doing just that at our next ‘Roundtable’ on the state of the sector – drop me a line if so.

Looking at the snow on the ground it’s difficult to think of much growing at the moment, but plenty of wide-format orientated PSPs seem to be expecting to do just that according the initial analysis of our Widthwise data. So do you think we are set to see more mergers and acquisitions as 2018 progresses? Or do you think we’re more likely to continue to see looser ‘partnerships’ between print companies and operations offering ‘buy-in’ services to extend a PSPs offering as the clamour to be a one-stop shop continues?

I’m just back from a north-eastern print odyssey. Is it just me – and know I have northern roots – or do people think and behave differently around the country? Do you think where you’re based has an impact on how you do business?

I’ve been invited to “experience the next generation of outdoor advertising technology” tomorrow but I can’t make it. Maybe you can - it sounds like it will be worth a look-see if you want to know what printed advertising is up against. Taking place at 7pm - at Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London - this is an augmented reality event being put on by students, who have been briefed by media technology company Lightvert to demonstrate the creative potential of Echo - a patented technology that produces huge digital images in the sky. The showcase will feature the winning entries. If you fancy going along you can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lightvertcentral-saint-martins-echo-showcase-event-tickets-43971445778

Are you on the hunt for acquisitions, and if so, where? Is now a good time to be looking to buy or sell a print business? These are questions we’ll be looking into in the upcoming Widthwise report 2018, based on this year’s survey data and my own interviews with PSPs. But, the more input the better, so let me know what you think on the topic

Happy Monday! Sun shining here and busy week ahead writing the Sign and Digital UK and Fespa 2018 previews for the next issue. I’ve asked exhibitors for the heads-up on ‘new’ solutions they intend to ‘launch’ at either event - and I must say there’s hardly a frenzy of activity. Is that because the large-format inkjet sector has plateaued in terms of technical development? There are still improvements to be made, but perhaps the manufacturers can see more profitable developments by targeting markets outside the traditional ‘graphic arts’ sector rather than ploughing huge amounts of R&D spend into what has become their ‘traditional’ market. What are your thoughts - are there still key areas of technical development to be made in this space? Where would you like to see them?

In collaboration with London College of Communication, The Printing Charity is running a project for photojournalism degree students to celebrate and explore the history of print, as well as looking at what print means in today’s society. The aim is for students to use the power of photojournalism to show a positive story of how diverse the printing sector is. The students will present their submissions on 5 March when the work of three students will be selected for credited use in the charity’s publicity material. The winning trio will receive a Print Futures Award - which serves as a reminder that grants of up to £1,500 each are up for grabs to help UK residents aged 18 to 30 years pay for recognised UK courses for a career in printing, paper, publishing, packaging, and graphic arts. Applications for this year’s Awards are now open and will close on Sunday 29 April at 11.59pm. Tell your people!

I’ve been getting quite a lot of marketing info from the organisers of the ‘Material For Architecture’ event in London on 25-26 April, and while it may not be a must-attend for large-format PSPs I thought I’d flag it up as a potentially useful networking space - all those architects in one place. And you might even find some unusual materials to think about printing onto!

It’s always great to see plaudits given to those who are happy to highlight the benefits of working within this industry, so congratulations to It Has To Be Brilliant MD Simon Tabelin for gaining honorary life membership of the BAPC for his efforts. I know plenty of others work hard to get print in front of potential employees, but in the last issue of Image Reports we highlighted a scheme called Brief Cases (http://bit.ly/2BG8VSt) – a model for co-operation between academia and industry, to ensure the right talent gets to the right jobs. Its founder Veronica Heaven wants large-format print companies to get involved, so should you?

Well done SDUK organisers for nabbing Mary Portas as the show’s keynote speaker. This is what we need - something that will put print on the radar! Then we have news of Probo getting print possibilities in front of creatives at the inaugural Pure Digital event. Roll on April….

The Creative Industries Federation has just announced the line-up of its 2018 Council – and it’s a very impressive list. No-one on it from print mind you. Hardly a surprise, but disappointing nevertheless. I talked to the federation’s CEO John Kampfner back in 2015 when it was still in its infancy (http://bit.ly/2BueZwH) – and he was happy to talk with the printing sector about involvement. Seems that hasn’t happened. Perhaps we don’t think print should be considered a ‘creative industry’? Seems a shame if that’s the case - could be part of the reason why the sector as a whole isn’t making the most of its creative potential…

Are you going to Fespa 2018? I’m currently at Fespa Fest, a pre-event briefing for journalists on what we can expect at the show with presentations by the Fespa team and various exhibitors, so I’ll bring you as much heads-up info as I can, when I can. But I Have to ask whether trade shows are as crucial to you as they once were. At the launch of its P5 technology last week Durst pointed out that it wouldn’t be at Fespa 2018, preferring to show its wares to potential customers at events at its own site and in its own timescale. And of course EFI used its Connect conference recently to show off new products… more and more are following suite. Is this a welcome trend for you as a PSP?

Yes, I’m at work on a heavy snow day, but then I don’t mind as I’m in Lienz at the launch of the new Durst P5 inkjet technology. The ‘P5’ apparently stands for “the paradigm shift” in digital printing technology that it will bring. We’ll see… watch this space - and the IR website - for more information.

In times of uncertainty it’s important to have solid research upon which to base decision making - which is exactly why, in this pre-Brexit turmoil, I’m urging you to take part in our 2018 Widthwise Survey of the UK and Ireland’s wide-format print providers. To take part go to: https://www.surveymonkey. co.uk/r/IRWW2018 Please be quick - the closing date is Friday 16 February.

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