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The Soap Box

Christmas, Brexit and beyond

Genevieve Lewis listens to print’s trade associations as they consider key industry challenges

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The BPIF offer a monthly Brexit Bulletin which is user-friendly

Don’t slow down
Sidney Bobb,

Keep in touch with your customers. It may be the end of the year – but not the end of business!

As the year draws to a close, some print businesses enter the holiday period with trepidation. Often it is stated that December is a “down month” with sales plummeting as a result of the holiday period.

Of course, there is a long break and in some eyes the build-up to the festive period seems to get longer and longer. It also appears that it takes an inordinate amount of time to return to the swing of “business as usual.” Some companies fail to accept the anticipation and aftermath of the break as a reason for the downturn in sales. They don’t reduce their sales activities but get on with the business of helping their customers – they are continually making sales calls.

In general buying does not stop simply because it is the end of the year and the beginning of another. Customers don’t shut their business down because it is a holiday period. The reality is that it isn’t the customers who stop buying, it is the printer who stops selling.

Print companies should certainly avoid slowing down and should constantly keep in touch with customers through personal calls, social media, newsletters and any other tool that helps promote their sales. By keeping an open dialogue with those who give them business the printer can develop the relationship and encourage buyers to make use of their services.

Print companies should certainly avoid slowing down and should constantly keep in touch with customers

Hopefully these few words will encourage printers to keep the sales momentum going and who knows, we may avoid hearing the all too common end-of-year moans and groans because business is down.

In the meantime, may the BAPC wish everyone in the industry a very Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year.

Looking forward
Charles Jarrold,
chief executive officer,

Now more than ever, it seems impossible to meet a deadline for my thoughts on Brexit without the situation changing as I write! But in the last day or two a draft deal has been secured – and we still have a Prime Minister – so I’ll do the best I can.

In recent months, the Federation’s been getting to grips with what a deal, or a ‘no deal’, could mean for our industry.  Some of our members’ key concerns have been the introduction of tariffs, non-tariff barriers (crucially, delays on supplies clearing customs), staffing, accessing public sector contracts and what happens if the ‘cliff edge’ occurs. Across our membership, there’s a huge variety of degrees to which businesses are prepared. But that’s no different to other industries – the CBI recently found that 94 percent of businesses find scenario planning difficult due to a lack of available information.

The CBI recently found that 94% of businesses find scenario planning difficult due to a lack of available information

So, we’ve been focusing on providing practical information, rather than political speculation. Our monthly Brexit Bulletin has been well received by members, backed up by a dedicated section of our website. Where information is available from Government, we’ve summarised it and made it much more user friendly – it often seems that civil servants underestimate how busy small business owners are, but I’m pleased that they’re getting out and about to find out!

In terms of lobbying, we’ve been working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure they’re fully briefed on how Brexit may affect print. In the summer, along with the Graphics and Print Media Alliance, I took a group of Federation members to a roundtable in Westminster, to discuss Brexit with the Department’s civil servants. We also recently facilitated a trip to Prinovis and APS Group in the North West for BEIS policy officials to properly get stuck in. We’ll keep talking to our Government contacts as Brexit draws nearer – it’s a vital time to make sure the industry’s voice is heard.

To find out more about the issues discussed in this article please contact the relevant organisation via their website: www.bapc, www.britishprint.com

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