Printing Outlook for 2023

Commentary by Lasse Krogell

A couple of weeks ago the US based web community “What They Think” published a summary of their Outlook report. Also, BPIF in the UK and BVDM in Germany have published their reports. In this writing I will put down some findings from these studies.

In What They Think’s survey 77 % reported an increase in turnover and 66 % reported higher profits in 2022 compared to 2021. The expected figures for this year were just slightly lower.  Concerning the biggest challenges for this year, availability and costs of consumables and supplies were on top followed by the economic conditions, i.e., inflation and “pricing”.  On the question of new business opportunities on the top is “customers outsourcing more work to us”. Of course, you can question is this a new opportunity but anyway a very important point that every printer should consider.

Analyze in-depth your customers’ business and try to find new services and products that your customer could use to increase his own business. As a final point from this survey, I have picked up the question of new investments. On top with 18 % of those answering is “finishing equipment for digital production”, number two with 16 % is “additional space” and number three, also 16 %, is “finishing equipment for offset production”.

On fourth place is “high-speed production inkjet printing equipment (like HP PageWide), 13 % followed by “toner-based color digital press (like HP Indigo, Xerox iGen …), 11 %. “Sheetfed offset press” is the 14th on the list of planned investments with 7 % of the survey participants votes. Looking at these figures it is clear, that the high-speed webfed inkjet press is winning ground of traditional sheetfed offset.

In UK the BPIF report tells that Q4 of 2022 was the seventh consecutive quarter with a positive output growth although the margin was not great in this quarter. One third reported growth and 29 % a decline. For Q1 BPIF expects a slightly more positive outcome.

The list of planned investments in UK is quite different from that in the US. On top is energy cost reduction investments, followed by workflow and automation and net zero initiatives. The BPIF economist Kyle Jardine points out that although the figures show growth, we must take into account the material price increases.

Also, Printweek has a poll on its web page. The question in the poll is: “What will be your watchword in 2023?”. “Survival” has 54 %, “Recovery” 10 % and “Growth” 36 %.

BVDM, the German print federation reports that the business climate was in January clearly better than at the end of last year, but still 7,5 % below the index value in January last year. The expectations regarding business development over the next six months were significantly less pessimistic than in the previous month. But still 58 % of all companies in the survey stated that they were suffering from lack of orders. On the positive side, the supply bottlenecks from the beginning of the previous year for printing paper and other materials have declined significantly – partly due to the fall in demand. Concerning the expectations for the coming months 29 % of those asked described the business situation as “rather unfavorable”, 66 % think the business situation will remain the same and only 5 % sees the future business situation as “rather favorable”.

The information I have concerning the situation in the Nordic print industry is unfortunately clearly weaker than you have read about above.

Just recently Intergraf announced the “Print Matters for the Future” conference that will be held in Riga, Latvia on Friday the 9th of June. In the program you will find:

  • Sean Smyth from Smithers will present the situation of the graphic industry in Europe
  • Ford Bowers from PRINTING United Alliance will outline what is happening in the USA
  • Morten Reitoft from INKISH will explore print innovations
  • Industry case studies will complete the picture

This is co-organized with NOPA and NOPA will organizing a very interesting plant visit on Thursday the 8th, for our members joining. So, write down the 8th and 9th of June in your calendar.

And before Riga I hope to meet all of you in Oslo at our own annual meeting and seminar.