Key Issues for the Printing and Communications Industry:
· Overall market conditions continue to be tough. The corporate market in particular has suffered from the decline in company profitability, lower levels of merger and acquisition activity and from the continuing downturn in manufacturing within the UK, Europe, USA and other developed countries.
· Customers are continuing to be ever more demanding in terms of customer service and printers who follow a pure` manufacturing` business model will struggle to sustain adequate profitability. In most cases increased losses are at a level, which will not be accepted by lenders/stakeholders. Prospects are brighter for those organisations, which see themselves as a `wider communications chain` and can offer customers an enhanced range of value-added services. The offerings by `Print Management Service` organisations are very appealing to large/medium/ and even SME`s due to a total package of customer service driven activities.
· The Print Industry serves a very wide range of customers and is viewed as a bellwether for trends in the economy as a whole. The outlook remains very mixed, with the prospect of no growth in the manufacturing recovery together with growing pressure on household spending. The impact on household spending totally affects the Print and Communication Industry together with shorter print runs and a rapid move to Digital operations.
· For a high value-added business the print industry exhibits relatively very low profit margins and in many cases losses. This largely reflects intense global competition in a very highly fragmented industry, which restricts the ability of organisations to raise prices. Therefore, print organisations should look very closely at improvements in operational processes. There are experienced/skilled people available with vast knowledge of managing successful organisations, which have developed business models especially for the print/communications industry. Use them and you will be successful in this global trading environment.
· Mergers and acquisitions have occurred among large organisations (Equipment Manufacturers /Print Manufacturers /Print Management Service Organisations) with only a few SME`s being acquired by other businesses to try and stay profitable. Pressure on margins and the need for constant investment in new equipment and R & D will drive further consolidation within the industry.
· The growth of electronic media represents a threat to print products, but some sectors are more at risk than others are.
THE DYNAMICS OF THE PRINT INDUSTRY
The printing industry encompasses a `wide` range of activities and products. It includes printers who receive most of their work in the form of individual jobs (job shop mentality) to produce printed matter.
It is difficult to measure the size of the printing industry with great accuracy, largely because of the overlap with publishing and packaging. Also, the change of industrial classification by some printers to move into other classified areas so they do not register as `print` organisations. The UK printing industry contributes only 1% of the country’s total GDP and represents around 3% of manufacturing turnover. Printing provides employment for about 180,000 people in a market that has annual sales of around £14 billion and declining. Global statistics and comprehensive information are available in the publication – `The European Printing Industry and the Impact of China on the World` available from www.cavendish-mr.org.uk
The number of organisations in the sector has declined rapidly in the past few years. According to UK VAT registration data there are currently almost 17,500 print businesses, a fall of over 6% from 2002 and rapidly in decline year-on-year. Nevertheless, this still represents more than a tenth of all manufacturing organisations, reflecting the fact that most printing organisations are very small businesses.
Despite moves towards consolidation during the 1990`s, printing is still one of the most highly fragmented manufacturing activities. Over 60% of printing businesses report an annual turnover of less than £250,000 (compared to 55% for manufacturing as a whole), and four fifths of printing organisations employ fewer than ten people. Many printing organisations are single-outlet enterprises operating from workshop units or, to a lesser extent, high street print shops (there are thousands of these operations). A fifth of printers, moreover, achieve annual sales of less than £50,000.
On the other hand, large organisations dominate the sector for the printing of newspapers, magazines and security products. Among the major organisations are, RR Donnelley, De La Rue, Chesapeake UK Holdings, Clondalkin Group, Communisis, Polestar Group, St. Ives and a few others.
In contrast to other manufacturing industries, printing organisations are geographically spread right across the country. There is little or no training for succession planning in the people arena, therefore the rapid change is to Digital printing with keyboard skills against craft skills. The traditional printing industry is killing itself by no training/use of business models and therefore can only cast blame on the lack of management strategy to see the future.
The print industry serves `all` parts of the economy, including the public sector, financial services, manufacturing (in rapid decline) and service organisations. Customers range from major national institutions to the very smallest businesses. Revenue is generated from a combination of work carried out purely for business use, which accounts for over 50% of the country’s total sales and the production of printed matter for sale to customers.
By far the largest single market is the production of `advertising literature` (including brochures, direct mail and commercial catalogues) which at present accounts for 50% total sales (but this sector is in decline). Elsewhere within the business printing market other specialist sectors include labels, business stationery and security printing. Packaging is also very important, contributing 10% of sales.
Meanwhile, over 25% of revenue is derived from published retail material such as books, periodicals, greeting cards, maps, calendars. diaries and postcards. The remaining 15% comes from ancillary services, including binding and finishing, pre-press work and graphic services.
Demand for certain kinds of printed material is subject to `heavy` seasonal variation. Workloads often peak during the late summer and early autumn in response to orders for the pre-Christmas period. The industry is highly localised in general printed products with most customers situated within 50 miles of their suppliers. A wide spread of customers over a short distance means that printers can be highly sensitive to local economic conditions. Also, react to customer’s late orders. The transactional/security printing industry is based on very experienced organisations that can be located anywhere in the country, close to a Royal Mail major sorting operation.
In general, printers are less reliant on overseas trade than many manufacturing industries. In value terms, the industry exports about a tenth of its output compared to around two-fifths for all manufacturing industries. Imported printing is on the increase, particularly for the major players and in niche markets. Major imports are in the sectors of magazines, labels, envelopes and other major printed niche products. Digital Display Printing is a major threat in the future to traditional media printed products, whether home produced or imported.
The Market Trends in Print
Despite the huge variety of work undertaken, the print industry is still exposed to the economic cycle. For consumers, many printed products represent discretionary spending; that is, purchases can be easily delayed or forgone. In the business market, likewise, advertising expenditure is often one of the first areas to be cut back when times are hard, and that time is coming.
Output of Printed Products
The direct mail market has been among the most successful sectors in recent years, having grown by more than 150% over the past 12 years. But, lower company profitability and confidence has hit spending on advertising and promotions, the largest single source of printing industry revenue. Also, there has been a rapid rise in Digital Display Printing In POP/POS and large personal wrap’s on buildings.
Elsewhere in the corporate market, three years of stock market weakness has created challenging conditions for financial printers. Fewer company floatation’s and lower levels of mergers and acquisitions activity mean that there is less demand for the specialist documentation that accompanies big city deals. Also, city firms are more cost-conscious.
In the market sector for packaging and labels, excess capacity has generated intense competition; indeed, this is just one sector where global competition exists. At the same time, major purchasers such as supermarkets, are seeking to contain packaging costs, either by using less of it or by squeezing their suppliers globally.
Consumer demand for printed retail products is tracked by official spending data on printed publications and stationery, However, it should be remembered that part of this printing, particularly national newspapers, is carried out `in-house` by the publishers, rather than by commercial printers.
Spending on books, newspapers, magazines and stationery has been one of the `weakest` areas of household expenditure in recent years and will continue to decline. Spending fell in 2001 and continues to fall year-on-year. Within this, the strongest subsection has been books, although the pattern of growth tends to be somewhat erratic and will decline in the future. Newspapers and periodicals have generally exhibited slower growth and indeed spending in this segment has declined in each of the past four years and is still predicted to decline further.
In addition, to no growth of consumer spending, printers in the magazine sector have had to contend with the effects of a complete slump in advertising. Advertising expenditure in business magazines, for instance, was down by 8% in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Further decline as been year-on-year. This has often resulted in a reduction in the number of pages printed. Meanwhile leading publishers have sought to rationalise the number of print manufacturers that they work with. This will mean, cost cutting – which will push print manufacturers further into decline? This of course is a great opening for foreign print organisations to step in with even more economical prices!
Possible Prospects for the Print Industry
The print industry serves a broad range of customers, embracing business and consumer markets; it is viewed as a bellwether of trends in the economy as a whole. Given the current background, the outlook of the print industry over the next twelve months is very challenging. There will be a slower growth of consumer spending that implies a less buoyant outlook for organisations involved in the production of books, magazines and other printed retail products.
In an industry plagued by over capacity and chronically thin margins and in most cases heavy losses, it is inevitable that some printers will continue to struggle. Print organisations should look close to home at their operation processes to cut costs, by using business models to help them raise the `bottom-line`. Plus, take on board experienced/skilled people in `management of change` to introduce best practise.
Consolidation will continue to take place among SME`s as it has become clear that a certain critical mass is sometimes necessary for survival. But only if the SME`s wake up to the `true` value of their organisations. The consolidation of the large corporations will also continue on a global scale.
Pressure on margins, the need for capital investment and the desire to build market share will continue to drive further acquisition activity. Continuing rationalisation either though mergers or plant closures, while painful to some in the short-term, may provide a firmer financial footing for the industry if some `below-cost` organisations are squeezed out!
There is no doubt that the growth of electronic media, including the Internet, is the single most important threat to the printing industry. Some parts of the print industry are less immediately threatened by these developments. Direct Mail and Transactional Billing for example, is expected to see further growth over the next few years, while most manufactured products will still require packaging.
Elsewhere, however, publishers will be looking to use other media, as well as print, to distribute their content. Likewise, major organisations are seeking to communicate with shareholders and the public by electronic means. Printing of newspapers, magazines, and business communications will therefore be more vulnerable to the threat posed by new media. Plus, shorter runs and Digital processes will dominate.
It is not all doom and gloom. Printing is just one part of a complex communications process and print organisations may be able to undertake other activities and capture some of the value associated with other parts of the process. The development of variable data printing, where print jobs are linked to information held on databases, may afford opportunities for printers to become involved in managing data on behalf of customers. This is potentially highly profitable work, although it requires frequent contact with clients to keep the content up-to-date. It also requires in-house staff with appropriate database management expertise.
Customers are becoming even more demanding in terms of customer service. The traditional two-week turnaround is largely a thing of the past and speed of response, from initial estimates to final delivery, is essential. Success in such a market requires more than just the latest equipment-also demands a `skilled and flexible` workforce.
From primitive times the main feature that has differentiated man/woman from the animals is his/her ability to `communicate` on a complex level.
Some historians suggest that print was instrumental in bringing about all the major skills in science, religion, politics and all modes of thought that are associated with culture in the developed world.
As readily available books helped expand the collective body of knowledge, indexing and cross-referencing emerged as ways of managing volumes of information and of making creative associations between seemingly unrelated ideas.
Print along with spoken language and electronic media is one of the key historical shifts in communication.
The Internet and interactive multimedia are providing ways of employing the printed word that add new possibilities to prints role in culture. The printed word is now used for real-time social interaction and for individualised navigation through interactive documents. It is difficult to gauge the social and cultural impact of new media without historical distance but these innovations will most likely prove to signal major transformation in the use, influence and character of human communication.
We live in a world of `High Technology`, a world that places great emphasis on effective management; a world where communication is one of the most talked about business subjects.
What’s Changed? Is the speed of change!
Since the time when people first learnt to write, businesses have kept records of their transactions. Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and other merchants recorded their transactions on all sorts of media from walls of buildings to papyrus.
By the beginning of the twentieth century it was still rare to find identical printed documents. But as the many small, sole-proprietor businesses expanded departments and sections sprang up; supervisors were needed; more documentation was needed to help the supervisors do their work; more clerical staff were needed to help the supervisors process the increase documentation; and these extra staff needed even more documentation to help them do the processing.
More documents! More Reports! More Confusion!
The last 50 years have seen more significant changes in the development of print processes than ever before.
The World is Digital, The pace of Change is Quicker
Globalisation of Digital printing is hard to ignore, and will certainly take a larger proportion of the world printing work currently led by offset litho, flexography and screen printing. Digital printing is fast becoming a popular choice for convenience, speed and cost. Also, linked to convenience, speed and cost is the change to short-run, on-demand digital colour printing, which is going at a fierce pace. The market valuation is always hard to prove, but the figures banded around are growth by 1000% between 1997 and 2012, i.e. £330 M to a possible £3B market values. The speed of change depends on cost, speed and convenience.
Also, the worlds growing reception of Digital and wide-format print processes, which now make up 10.3% of the market. Digital is not just for high tech people anymore – it`s part of the printers` armoury, if not, being successful in the future will be very difficult for Commercial Printers. The in-depth report on `It`s a Digital Future` produced on a CD – is a comprehensive view of over 720 pages, including graphs, diagrams, charts, suppliers and customers interviews on the Digital Print World. To obtain comprehensive details visit www.cavendish-mr.org.uk
The Business Outlook-Take Advantage of Technology
Ø Today’s technology opens new doors to increased productivity and effectiveness in producing digital print. The latest software and document production technologies can dramatically increase the functionality and value of digitally printed documents.
Ø High-level platform integration lets organisations merge data from multiple sources and create communications with increased value.
Ø Automated process controls systems, featuring the latest logic and coding technologies, ensure data and document integrity for each communication. Automatic process checks and balances at every stage of production can help eliminate communication error made by humans.
Ø Digital colour document readability and eye appeal. As new colour and digital technologies become easier and more economical to integrate into the high-volume communication manufacturing and distribution environment, they will be key to the communication process.
Ø The future is variable-data imaging, which is the unique capability of digital printers. The growth of database-driven marketing and in particular database-driven web sites is leading to precise targeting of the marketing message to individuals.
Ø As time goes by the e-commerce and email explosion will effect printing, but by how much and in what time frame, depends on technology, cost and human acceptance. But the investment priorities are in both categories as company’s gamble with their future. `Think before you leap`.
Ø Acquisitions and mergers will be gathering momentum in the future, not just printing companies but industry in general on a global scale. Organic growth is very difficult, the way to survive and hold up the profit margin is to acquire companies and companies with synergies as well as partnerships (alliances) with other companies to offer the `total solution`.
Ø Print Management Service – A global communications solution for printing and distribution of information.
The object of a Print Management Service is to provide an organisation with the means of managing the flow of information and paperwork, using efficient and essential business documents at the lowest possible printing and processing costs and controlled by an effective reporting system.
That might sound impressive on paper, but is such a service really necessary? And, if so, will it actually achieve tangible benefits for an organisation? An obvious question that springs to mind is, will any savings realised by effective print control be swallowed up by the cost of the Print Management Service?
Firstly, an organisation will want to satisfy itself that it needs a Print Management Service.
In most cases, they will because the country is currently experiencing a paperwork explosion with organisations each year tending to increase the number of different printed documents they use.
Print Management Service is `partnering` sourcing, which is essentially the opposite of traditional buying philosophies. The supplier is an equal partner, with access to confidential information and a sharer of knowledge and ideas at the design stage of a project. The supplier takes the initiative in seeking design improvements in order to give his customer the most advanced product, and is willing to invest in training, technology and facilities to help him achieve this. In return, the customer helps the supplier to learn and work the contract, provided the supplier has demonstrated his commitment. Print Management is about long-term relationships and mutual trust; prices are agreed at the outset, with in-built acceptable margins to both parties and customers and supplies then work together to achieve the results they both desire. The result is a product that is customer-led; of a consistently high quality with zero defect targets, and is produced at continuously reducing costs.
Print Management Service has been described as resembling the relationship between conductor and orchestra, both sides working together for a common goal, with the supplier delivering the product in perfect harmony. For today’s most successful companies, these principles underpin their whole corporate philosophy; print dot.coms do not adhere to such principles.
Today’s users need to create printed documents faster and change them more often, multi-purpose usage has made many documents more complex. Quality linked with flexibility and customisation has become important factors.
The Bottom line-Bringing value to the Customer
The biggest factor in winning or losing the business is the customer’s perception of the value you provide. This requires analysis, education for the customer and communication of the benefits of digital `on demand` printing solution. You need to show the customer that you have the best, total solution and provide the level of support required achieving cost savings and improving operational efficiency.
In most cases you will not be the lowest price per unit alternative, but will need to demonstrate that you provide the greatest value for the customer price pound.
In today’s business world, it is not about selling products; it is providing the customer with solutions. This is the way to develop long-term relationships and retain customers for life-this is why the `Print Management Service` is the way forward. Also, over the past thirty years the Print Management Service organisations have gained about 50% of the print available globally.
Ø Digital printing systems vendors will continue to push speed and increase resolutions of their machines as well as introduce new colour systems.
Ø Paper documents will become more `intelligent` through the creation of efficient coding systems.
Ø The ability to view, archive, search. retrieve, distribute electronically in any format, and print any document, at any time, and from any platform will be key in the future.
Organisations will be successful, if they have the `right` people with the passion, experience/skills together with the business models to forge the way ahead in the world of change.
COLIN THOMPSON: Colin Thompson is the author of `Becoming the Best`, a publication with support from the DTI in 1994. This publication is a positive approach to customer care throughout the business environment and empowering people to deliver quality and service excellence, these are the principals behind this publication. Also, a further publication, `The Guide to Print/Forms Management Service` was published to help businesses implement workflow solutions and save thousands of pounds. Plus, a top DTI (UK Government division) accolade was presented by the Rt. Hon. Michael Heseltine MP when he was the President of the Board of Trade to Colin Thompson, Managing Director of Forms UK plc, at that time.
New publication: `The Hidden Overhead in the 21st Century`
The modern world is full of awe-inspiring technology capable of sending information instantly around the globe at the push of a button. In this environment, one might think that data bound to physical pieces of paper is a relic of the past. However, Dr Colin Thompson, Managing Partner of Cavendish research indicates that organisations in industries like healthcare, banking, insurance, manufacturing and the public sector, plus any business globally, are struggling to reconcile the worlds of digital and physical data.
This publication shares with you successful ways of reducing costs immediately and improving the efficiency of the business process with excellent results that raise the `bottom-line` profit continuously. This publication is the `total package` to improve your business.
Discover how Best-in-Class companies…
Ø Reduce Document Capture Costs
Ø Decrease Document Search Times
Ø Cut Operational Expenses
Ø Implement a `Content Management System` to increase efficiency
Ø And `Leading Change` to increase the `bottom-line` rewards and benefit your business long-term
In this extract from his e-book, `The Hidden Overhead`, Colin Thompson argues that more companies should operate more comprehensive control systems to bring big savings in time and money.
“In this publication Colin covers in great detail the issues related to Hidden Overheads, an often forgotten consideration which does need some thought, so suspend your disbelief, you may well find that you question what you do within your own business and how you actually explain this issue to your clients, also with this publication you receive ideas on how to implement a Content Management System with practical ideas on how Leading Change can benefit your organisation, once you have grasped this nettle and developed an open mind the ideas and practical advice given will in my opinion help you develop your business and increase your Net Profit”.
“Wise men agree that there are certain times when circumstances combine to produce the conditions in which a book is published at the exact moment when there is a need for it.
With all the changes going on within the graphic communications industry globally, general financial uncertainty this is the time for such a publication. A time, when business owners and managers need to reflect, analyse their operations and take action in order to ensure their survival and success. Adherence to the advice and guidance presented within the pages of this excellent book will certainly go some way to help in attaining that success.
There is of course no secret to success, those who achieved it will tell you that success comes through a variety of sources not the least being the advice and guidance provided from those in the know .
The author, Dr. Colin Thompson is such an individual, he has many years experience of senior management positions with a number of companies and has written many articles, books and formal papers on industry. A much respected business person and commentator who has his fingers on the pulse of business. His common sense approach to business will help reduce costs, improve efficiency, increase sales and create profit.
The modern world is full of awe-inspiring technology capable of sending information instantly around the globe at the push of a button. In this environment, one might think that data bound to physical pieces of paper is a relic of the past. However, research indicates that organisations in industries like healthcare, banking, insurance, manufacturing and the public sector plus are struggling to reconcile the worlds of digital and physical data. This publication shares with you successful ways of reducing costs immediately and improving the efficiency of the business process with excellent results that raise the `bottom-line` profit continuously. This publication is the `total package` to improve your business
There has never been a more appropriate time to review your operation and implement some, if not all, of the advice given. “The Hidden Overhead in the 21st Century” provides you with the tools, all you have to do is use them.”