The printing industry includes establishments primarily engaged in printing text and images on to paper, metal, glass, and some apparel and other materials. Printing can be divided into three distinct stages: prepress, the preparation of materials for printing; press or output, the actual printing process; and post press or finishing, the folding, binding, and trimming of printed sheets into their final form.
Companies that provide all three services first prepare the material for printing in the prepress department, then produce the pages on the pressroom floor, and finally trim, bind, or otherwise ready the material for distribution in the post-press department. Increasingly, printers also are providing database management, mailing, or distribution services to meet customer needs.
UK packaging industry
The UK packaging industry has faced marginal growth although there was a recession in the global market the demand was quite less. Still, they managed to keep moving forward and fulfilled the humble targets with enthusiasm.
The demand for pharmaceutical packaging is increasing in the Gulf region, but in the UK, the printed food packaging is the most active industry. The growth speed is very consistent, and the demand has raised so as the supply and production.
UK printing industry
Print advertising is in decline and has been for some time now. Indeed, it is predicted that by 2019 only 5% of total advertising spending will be in print. The advances in mobile handsets and social media have created new advertising opportunities in what is termed the ‘weightless` economy.
However, as one door closes another one opens. An example of this is a resurgence in demand for vinyl; sales have increased by 260% from 2009 as consumers build record collections with printed covers of artistic appeal and merit.
This is an example of people’s desire to own beautiful things that are tangible and can be touched. The imagery alone cannot do this, and this is one market the print industry needs to adapt and evolve to meet demand.
Another identifiable area of growth is the recent rise in paper-back book sales. The consumer cannot fill a bookshelf with kindle downloads after all.
It has become clear that for firms to increase brand loyalty and connect with the consumer, they need to engage in multi-sensory marketing. The imagery alone is not enough. In 2013 Coca-Cola launched an ambitious campaign producing over a billion personalized bottles with popular names on, e.g. Chris, Sarah, Dan, and Laura.
This was successful and sales rose by 7% as people purchased their bottle of coke. However, the wider point here is the collaboration between print and digital media as the consumer made media impressions on social media like Facebook and Instagram with their novelty coke bottles.
It is an example of the print industry evolving to fill a gap in the market using the technology that is supposedly killing the print industry.
Coca-cola took this form of marketing a step further producing 2 million unique design bottles with the aim of creating collection items.
Like the previous strategy, it appears to be successful with an increase of sales and brand preference as a result.
In recent years industry turnover has been relatively stable. However, there has been a decrease in the number of companies and employees within the print industry.
This can be attributed to two major factors, the financial crash of 2008 reverberated throughout the whole economy due to the recession. Many print businesses did not possess the financial resources required to weather the storm.
Lower profit margins led to many exiting the industry. It should be noted though, that almost all sectors faced these challenges and by 2012 things began to stabilize and up until the present we have witnessed a steady increase in income for the print industry.
The decline in overall employees can be attributed to an increase in production techniques and technological advances in machinery that makes up fixed capital investment. Although it should be noted that the recession after 2008 did lead directly to job losses throughout the industry due to a drop in overall demand.
When considering fixed capital investment, there has been a clear shift in demand from sheetfed litho to digital process printing recently, and this is set to continue. Due to less demand for high volume long-run orders, many companies have opted for digital print which is a growing market.
However, cut sheet still accounts for roughly double the market share that digital process print does for the vast majority of printing businesses in the U.K. today.
The current state of UK printing sector
•The UK is the fifth largest producer of printed products in the world, and printed matter contributes almost £700 million to the UK’s balance of trade.
•Printing is the dominant activity, accounting for the majority of company turnover (56% on average). Finishing and binding was the secondary activity (19%); followed by pre-press (8%).
•Outside the traditional ‘step-before’ and ‘step-after’ activities to printing, mailing and fulfillment provided the next largest contribution to turnover, closely followed print management, web design, and database handling.
•Web to print has been a much talked about feature of the industry for some years; however, two-thirds of respondents to Printing Outlook (January 2014) did not yet derive any turnover through a web to print system.
Did you know that the UK print sector
Is the world's fifth largest producer of printed products
•Has a turnover of £13.8 billion
•Has 116,000 employees
•Consists of 8,400 companies
•Has a gross added value of £5.8 billion
•Made a P.A. capital investment of £700 million in 2016
•Had a positive trade of £775 million in 2016