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Tue, Jan

Just thought I’d flag up the Materials for Architecture conference and exhibition in London on 25 - 26 April as I’ve received news that speakers have been confirmed from architectural practices PLP, dRMM, and Studio Seilern Architects, plus engineering practices Buro Happold, Ramboll. And there’ll be contributions from universities and industry associations. Might be worth a trip to the ILEC Conference Centre if you want to boost your contacts list in the architectural sector.

It’s good to see youngsters getting on in industry - and to see them being supported from within. In the US the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) has just opened to 2018 applications for its annual scholarship programme in conjunction with the Specialty Graphic Imaging Foundation (SGIF), while here in the UK the Printing Charity does a sterling job of providing financial support for youth training. It would be great to establish a list of financial training options on our website - a quick reference for those just starting out and needing a helping hand. If you know of UK-based financial incentives/scholarships please drop me a line and we’ll do what we can to make them as obvious as possible to those that may benefit.

I need you! Please help me collate stats so I can deliver you a stonking - and free - report on the state of the UK/Ireland’s large-format print sector this year. Last year over 240 of you responded to my annual Widthwise poll. I’m hoping even more will take part- anonymously of course - this time around. My fab right-hand woman Debbie Nethercot may well call you to run through the questions, but it would be great if you could beat her to it by doing the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/IRWW2018

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2018 a good one. To do that we’ll have to continue thinking outside the box – so what about learning more about NRF? Just think, you could even make a case for getting over to New York later this month to investigate. NFR 2018 takes place at the Jacob Javits Centre in the city on 14-15 January. Might at least be worth a scroll through the show website….

Well, this is my last enewsetter of the year, so let me wish you all lots of festive fun. Hope you had a successful 2017 and that 2018 will be all you can make of it. Go enjoy…

Do you need help in dealing with workplace stress at Christmas? I ask because I was contacted by North East Counselling Services (NECS) recently, telling me that it is extending its services to local businesses to help support stressed employees over the festive period. The Gateshead-based operation provides counselling for individuals, couples and young people in the region, but its works business development officer, Carol Walker, said: "Bosses often hear about their employees' problems but often feel unable to provide much in the way of assistance. They're not trained to help staff resolve or deal with these issues. We're offering local businesses a lifeline. We work with individuals, groups and teams to get a workforce back to optimum efficiency and improve their resilience to further problems.” Of course there’s a charge for these counseling services, so being sceptical, I am wondering if this is nothing more than a timely marketing tool from NECS, or whether you might find services like this really helpful. Your thoughts please….

A memorial is being held in central London today for industry guru Sophie Matthews-Paul. For many years an editorial contributor to Image Reports, Sophie was well-known throughout the large-format print sector for her technical grasp on all things inkjet. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

Does a ‘Made in Britain’ label make a difference to consumer brand perception? Attest, a brand intelligence and consumer insights platform, surveyed 2,000 British and 2,000 American people, and found that three in four are more likely to buy a product with a ‘Made in Britain’ label. 39% of Brits feel more positively towards British brands and products post-Brexit vote, and though one in three Americans admit they don’t know any British brands, nearly 40% of them said they find ‘Made in Britain’ products ‘desirable’. Is this attitude likely to impact your business?

A reminder that Printwear and Promotion Live! 2018 will take place at the NEC in Birmingham, 21 - 23 January. According to event director Tony Gardner more than 25 new exhibitors have joined the line-up, which covers equipment and accessory supplies in direct-to-garment, sublimation, transfer, screen printing plus embroidery. Also new are the Knowledge Centre (H70) and The Decoration Advice Suite (J20). Details at: www.printwearandpromotionlive.co.uk

Great news that Prismm Environmental has come up with a scheme to divert foil print waste from landfill. Now then, what about PVC? No doubt the same demands are coming from brand owners wanting to see a reduction in all print waste….

Are we set for growth? That is a key question as we kick off the 2018 Widthwise Survey. Consider this a personal invite to take part what is our 11th annual poll of the UK and Ireland’s large-format orientated PSPs - the data from which will be analysed and presented in a ‘state-of-the-nation’ report in the spring. Current indications are that we are actually in a pretty good place, all things considered, and that yes, many companies can expect to see growth in 2018. Take a look at what Signbox MD Mark Bartlett has to say on the subject in the Taking Point interview.

This week Digital Minister Matt Hancock said the Better Broadband Scheme - which provides a subsidy of up to £350 to enable access to an affordable broadband service to those unable to get speeds of at least 2Mbps – has been extended to the end of 2018, rather than ending at the end of next month. “More than 94% of the UK can now access superfast broadband speeds and thousands more homes and businesses are being reached every week,” he said. Wondering if you are happy with your broadband speeds?

I spent the weekend putting together the editorial content plan for the 2018 Widthwise Report. I’ll be spending this week framing the questions for the survey that provides the backbone of that report. Is there a burning question you would like me to ask PSPs in that poll? Let me know right now if you do – after all, it’s about delivering you a market report that will help your business thrive.

As you read this I’ll be on my way to The Printing Charity’s 190th Annual Luncheon at Stationers’ Hall in London. Perhaps you’re on your way there too, in which case it’ll be great to catch up with you. But the purpose of me mentioning the event really is to flag up the incredible work of this charity - of which there is still such little awareness among print sector staff. There may be people within your company in need of its assistance, so please raise awareness. Thank you.

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