BPIF survey shows confidence falling

The British Print Industry Federation has shared the results from its latest Printing Outlook quarterly survey, which takes the pulse of how confident British printing companies feel about the market. Probably best not to read any further if you’ve heard enough about Brexit, and let’s face it, who hasn’t had enough of Brexit at this stage?

Kyle Jardin, economist for the BPIF.

The survey took place in April, with 131 companies responding. It covers the first quarter of this year, where there was a slowdown in growth due to the Christmas boost from the previous quarter. However, this slowdown was not as bad as expected and many printers are forecasting some growth for this current quarter, albeit at a further reduced level. 

The BPIF also reports that there appears to have been some polarisation in growth outcomes with. more companies reporting improved output and more reporting deteriorating output while fewer say that their output had remained stable. Then again, the entire country has been polarized between brexiteers and remainers, and between extreme right and extreme left politics so perhaps that’s not so strange. 

Not surprisingly, Brexit is the main concern for most British printers and no wonder given the utter mess that the British government has made of it. It means that Brexit is now a bigger worry than pricing from competitors, only the second time that has happened. Those companies surveyed also picked paper and board prices as their third concern. Other issues are access to skilled labour, late payment and poor output prices

Interestingly, average price movements were positive in the first quarter, with 19 percent of respondents able to increase prices in Q1, and almost two-thirds able to hold them steady, though this isn’t expected to continue in the second quarter. 

The main Brexit-related concern, for 77 percent of respondents, was maintaining a reliable and secure supply chain, followed by general cost inflation and then non-tariff barriers. So hardly surprising to find that 51 percent of respondents are currently stockpiling some supplies.

Kyle Jardine, an Economist for the BPIF, commented: “There are plenty of comments from survey respondents referring to suicidal pricing, material costs and of course turmoil and uncertainty related to Brexit. However, a number of companies have noted that whilst some clients had been holding back on placing jobs (due to Brexit uncertainty), the floodgates opened slightly as the Brexit timeline was extended and clients were keen to get work ordered and invoiced before the March financial year-ends.”

He added: “No matter one’s viewpoint, there aren’t many adjectives left to describe the latest Brexit shenanigans. As fascinating as it has all been there’s no getting around the fact that, whilst most businesses do not appreciate the prolonged uncertainty from the Brexit deadline extension, many are thankful to avoid no-deal, for now. However, there is also a significant proportion of business owners that have had enough and just want it sorted (deal or no deal in many cases).”

Frankly, I would have thought that the main concern for most companies was that the entire country has gone completely insane and is hell-bent on committing economic suicide, but knowing the BPIF that probably wasn’t on the questionnaire.

The BPIF is a trade association that represents the UK print, printed packaging and graphic communication industry. For more information on the BPIF, visit www.britishprint.com.

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