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The worst of times has been the best of times for some. That may not be what you want to hear if Covid has just about sunk your business but, according to the 195 large-format orientated UK/Ireland-based print businesses that answered our 14th Widthwise poll at the start of this year, the sector has not fared too badly overall - some have even benefitted - and levels of optimism are high despite worry over the rising cost of supplies, uncertainty about UK economic bounce-back etc. All in all, many large-format PSPs have seen the Covid-19 pandemic, and all the upheaval that has created, as an opportunity for a great reset. But don’t take my word for it - the survey information speaks for itself and can be found in the newly published Widthwise Report 2021. A précis of the key findings is included in this issue, but you can download the whole report - for free - at https://imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise


Data from the survey shows that 30.8% of PSPs intending to invest in the next year or two are doing so with the aim of improving efficiencies. Many are looking at workflow as you’d expect, but when it comes to MIS - well, let’s just say its deployment in this sector looks set to remain low. We know the reasons why it is eschewed by so many, but is it time to re-evaluate given what MIS suppliers have to say about developments? The What To Watch feature provides a management report.


This issue also looks into another key issue - carbon emissions, and what this sector can do to reduce them. Plus, there are updates, tips and advice on other areas of concern, such as regulations on dealing with staff suffering from Long Covid, how to handle requests for flexible working etc.


Here’s hoping all our efforts go some way to helping you during this great reset.

News that Epson is bringing out its first printheads with a built-in heater has me wondering how that’s going to impact UV printer developments - and those of you likely to run work through the kit based upon them. Thoughts on a postcard - well, email - please.

I recently heard about a new 100% recyclable, certified plastic-free, metalised paperboard for digital printing. EcoFoil Digital - stocked by Denmaur - is currently only available in small format, but the company says it’s looking into the feasibility of making it available for wide-format. Would it excite you as much as it did me? We’ve seen the introduction of some really impressive ‘eco substrates’ over the past couple of years – is there anything specific that you are still crying out for?

The BPIF and Fespa are introducing new eco schemes for large-format PSPs - and the SGP begins its pilot scheme over here soon. With environmental responsibility having climbed to the top of the agenda I’m just wondering if there’s any excuse - perhaps I should say ‘reason’ - for print companies not being able to prove that they are doing their bit? Our Widthwise Report 2021 is published alongside the August issue of Image Reports in the next few days - the ‘environment’ section data tells an interesting story. Let me know what you think.

Wondering how many of you are likely to connect with Future Factory (15-16 September) where research companies Ipsos and Nomisma will discuss consumer trends in relation to sustainability and corporate social responsibility - with an eye to changing habits and consumptions and how that impacts sectors such as packaging and retail print. Future Factory is organised by Acimga with the support of the Italian Trade Agency, as a main event on the road to Print4All next May. Are either rocking your boat? If not, would something similar looking more specifically at UK scenarios?

According to data from the new 2021 Workforce Trends Survey, message notifications are hitting staff productivity. Is that something you’ve even half considered? So many PSPs are looking at making their businesses more efficient, and the focus is often on technology, but to what extent do you think about what’s impacting your human resources? Just a Thursday thought…

So, today’s the day - in England anyway. How do you feel about the lifting of pandemic restrictions, and will today’s legal changes make much difference to your staff and your business?

Thought you might be interested to hear that the small business platform Xero has launched a tool called Analytics Plus, which via pattern-matching and predictive algorithms, can detect and predict short-term cashflow. Hoping you’re not in urgent need of such software, but just in case…

It’s done with. England lost. Let’s move on. The past can’t be changed - but the future can. I’m just proofing the annual Widthwise Report 2021, based on data from almost 200 UK/Ireland wide-format PSPs, and I’ll just say that there’s optimism in the air. Hopefully all your planning and prep will deliver you the results you’re hoping for over the next few months. I’ll let you know when the full report is ready to download - not long now…

I’m no footie fan, but even I’m excited by the England win last night. What’s just as exciting (well, for some of us!) is the opening up of major events and the thought of how much of a boost that will be for printers in this sector. Finger crossed for an England win, and for what will be less public, but just as welcome, wins for all of you too.

Service Graphics recently Tweeted that it’s “looking for talented business development managers” to work with leading brands, and it had me wondering how many PSPs are looking for business development managers now that so many are having to reinvent themselves - and whether this is just another name for salespeople or a broader role?

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but how much media stock do you have? I’ve had reports of PSPs having trouble getting supplies, and where they can, making the decision to invest in quantities that will keep them going should the situation worsen. I’d welcome your feedback on the issue.

OK, you’ve all been doing fab work over the last year, with print innovation a standout result of these strange times. So get yourself noticed  - the first UK Graphic Awards take place this October, and the deadline for entries is 3 July. Details are at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ukgraphicawards

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