13 October 2009 | Paul Snell
The UK printing industry believes the worst of the recession may be over.
While conditions remain tough and the sector continues to contract, it is at a slower rate than before. The latest British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) study found trading conditions were at their healthiest for 18 months.
"We can to some extent breathe a collective sigh of relief that the slowdown in the rate at which the industry has been contracting has started to ease," said Andrew Brown, BPIF corporate affairs director.
However, 29 per cent of printers questioned for the quarterly Printing Outlook survey thought conditions had worsened between June and August. And Brown warned a recovery was only tentative. He said although optimism is rising among printers, survey respondents have tended to be overly positive in their predictions.
The printing industry has been badly affected by the recession, with many firms forced out of business or into administration. In the past three months more than half of printers were forced to cut prices to remain competitive in the marketplace.
The study also revealed that only 11 per cent of printers are working to capacity. Autumn 2007 was the last time the number of printers working to capacity was greater than the number that were not.
The sector is also suffering from the withdrawal of loans and credit from banks. The BPIF said one-fifth of printers had looked at other options to raise finance, including releasing equity on machinery and finding external investors.
* A full article on recent changes in the print sector will appear in the 22 October edition of Supply Management