By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
In my experience, a “smiling British printer” is an oxymoron , a bit like “military intelligence” or “Microsoft Works”. It is rare to find a printer that tells you he is doing very well and business is good. Usually s/he is grumbling about the lack of orders in the pipeline, poor response from equipment suppliers’ service teams or slow payers amongst the customer base.
But over the last few months, on my travels to see customers up and down the UK on behalf of Landa Digital Printing, I have noticed at least a glimmer of a smile playing across some of their lips, or in rare cases, a big grin. You see things are not as bad as they were – and printers are usually the first people to know about it.
Printers are also the first to know when a recession is on the way. As soon as the recent banking crisis hit the western world, printers began suffering as their customers turned off their promotional activities and cut back their marketing budgets. The politicians were lagging behind as usual, still suggesting that the economy was robust and our money was safe in their hands. Some printers were unable to survive the cutbacks and either went out of business or merged with rivals.
Last year politicians in the UK were still saying that we were in a recession, talking not only of a double dip recession but even a treble dip! The signs around us in the printing industry though, told a different story. Printers who had survived the early crisis by cutting back and focusing on profitable work rather than chasing turnover, were seeing an upturn in their business. Companies across a wide spectrum of manufacturing and service industries saw a pick-up in their business. At the same time came a change in the attitude of banks who had shored up their balance sheets and started to lend money again.
Marketing activity recommenced. The design agencies and marketing companies saw it first and then it translated into an upturn in orders for printers. I spoke to several in the run up to Christmas, and all were talking about seeing green shoots. Things have continued in the same positive vein this year.
So it is a great time to bring new technology to the printing industry. It seems that Benny Landa has got his timing right again as we will be introducing Nanographic Printing® technology to UK packaging converters and commercial printers just at the time when their customers will be receptive to the new ideas and innovative products that it will offer.
I am also hoping that the signs we are seeing in the UK will apply to some of the other markets in Europe, who are still in recession according to their politicians and press. Business remains very tough in Euro land, but the day I see a smile breaking out on a Gallic face, I will know that green shoots are sprouting there too.