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Business

Snapshot of print industry reveals financial fears

A survey carried out on behalf of a merchant bank has revealed that the print industry is concerned about finances but is also stable.

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The survey is a barometer of the industry and reflects how printers feel about the economy

The Close Brothers commissioned GMI to the review of SMEs in general and the print industry in particular at the end of last year to give a snapshot of how the sector is doing.

The quarterly survey asked what the economic outlook looked like, what their knowledge of investment sources was, how they were fixed for staffing, planning for succession and thoughts on gender diversity and workforce mobility. 

Just over 40 percent of those asked about the economy said there was still no sign of a “true economic recovery”, while a third felt things were improving a one in ten said the business climate was getting worse. 

That same 40 percent said business had stayed the same in the last year while a higher percentage said business was worse than the same time in the previous year. Only seven percent said things were prospering.

Print firms face a number of factors that are preventing them from growing, some unique to our sector and others common across all industries

Roger Aust, managing director of the print division at Close Brothers, says: “Print firms face a number of factors that are preventing them from growing, some unique to our sector and others common across all industries. 

“However, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we are the world’s fifth largest producer of printed products in the world, only behind the USA, China, Japan and Germany. With over 8,600 companies employing over 122,000 people and a gross turnover of £13.5 billion in the UK, our sector is still very much alive and continuing to innovate.”  

When it came to funding, half of the print companies were aware of alternatives to asking the bank managed for a loan but not many were knowledgeable with asset finance. 

With over 8,600 companies employing over 122,000 people and a gross turnover of £13.5 billion in the UK, our sector is still very much alive and continuing to innovate

In 2016, 17 percent of printers said they had needed extra finance over and above what they had planned, while looking ahead to 2017, more than a quarter of print firms said they would be seeking funding to invest in their business.

Brexit is an issue for 20 percent of firms saying they thought they would have to cut staff once the UK although this view contradicts the opinion of 20 percent who say they will take on more staff this year. Just seven percent say they will cut the numbers who they employ this year.

Nine out of ten firms have no worries about succession while more than half said they felt gender equality wasn’t an issue although a third felt more needed to be done to balance the sexes in the workforce.


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