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Ahead of the Curve

The million pound print show: a personal review

With around a million pounds worth of kit sold, thousands of future deals secured and hundreds of leads to follow up, The Print Show has given a massive boost to the industry.

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The Print Show broke all previous records in its four-year history with record numbers passing through the doors

It can also be said it has injected the British manufacturing economy with a large dose of confidence and investment.

So many stands and so many people, The Print Show broke all previous records in its four-year history with record numbers passing through the doors at the NEC over the three days. And it was quite a sight to behold. Consider the contrast: the slow and exacting process of setting up The Print Show at the weekend and on Monday until late – and then the frenetic taking down of stands and exhibits on Thursday evening.

Brexit concerns

One of the reoccurring themes of the conversations I had were increasing concerns of exhibitors over Brexit and its fall out if there is no deal on March 29th, 2019. Up until now, most people were reluctant to speak out on the subject preferring the ‘wait and see’ approach. That has changed. Carys Davis of the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) said members were concerned particularly over services, finance, goods and people. For instance, she said one member had 20 percent of their staff from the European Community, while many were worried about tariffs and trade friction if there is a no deal.

The show has given a boost to the industry

Tallulah Chapman of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) said it was legislation over timber imports which was one worry, while the impact on costs to the timber industry was another. At the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) Marian Stefani said the whole Brexit situation had brought uncertainty to members of the IPIA but said if you are in the print industry you need to be financially robust in any case. Loic Delor of Josero said Brexit would be a problem for companies if there is no deal. His firm trades around the world but hiking costs with the EU was not a good idea.

Blurring boundaries

Away from politics, the exhibition also showed the blurring of divisions between the traditional printing industry, packaging, sign-making and textile printing. Paul Hughes of the Sign-Making Tools which had a stand at the show said: “So many traditional and digital printers have bought wide-format machines to do some roll-ups and banners. It soon becomes apparent that they get asked to make signs and vehicle wraps as well and they don’t have the tools to do that work which is where we come in with the equipment and advice. They realise they can bring that work in house with a little help.”

Steve Giddins of Bindery Solutions was keen to show off the latest Smyth binding machine from Italy

One area of traditional printing which appeared in good health was trade print and print finishing. Steve Giddins of Bindery Solutions was keen to show off the latest Smyth binding machine from Italy. He also pointed to rise of luxury box making machinery as the packaging sector continued to grow. Speaking of finishing Simon Cox of Friedheim which sold two machines from Zechini said print finishing and packaging was where the market was going. The Printers’ Bazaar he said showed printers ways to diversify and find new revenue streams and it was a theme reiterated across the show with demonstrations of T-shirt printing, book binding, laminating, hot foil stamping and wide-format printing catching the attention of printers from across the UK and Ireland.

There were record numbers of visitors to the show

One section of the show that was universally praised was Park Life - the one place you could chill out and have a drink at the end of the day.

What did you think of the Print Show? Email your thoughts to harry@linkpublishing.co.uk or call me on Tel: 0117 9805 040 – or follow me on Twitter and join in the debate.

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