03 August 2020 Print Companies

There is no turning back the years

Gareth Ward warns the printer that wishes to continue as before may have a shock coming – the way customers buy and use print is changing.

The first results are in: print has been knocked sideways by the pandemic and the lockdowns it has led to. It has put a halt to office work and the hyperactive corner copier, putting a hole in revenues for the likes of Canon and Xerox as a consequence. The lack of advertising has clobbered demand for coated papers used in advertising collateral and it has stretched installation times for new machines and the investment cycle itself.

Now as lockdowns ease, there is some optimism that business will flow back. Workers will return to offices, to spending in shops, pubs and in other ways. The business clock will be reset. But will it? There is still uncertainty about returning to school, college or university. Furlough schemes continue to protect against mass job losses and until these have unwound, nobody can claim stability, let alone normality, has returned.

There is no room for complacency among those in print thinking that the annual seasonal boost to trade will be back, that after this temporary problem, customers will return. That there is no urgent need to change. This could be disastrous. The easing of lockdowns should be a further signal that the world is changing, not that it is going back to the way it was.

Gareth Ward