Tough times for German printers

BVDM 3rd Survey of German Printers

German printers
BVDM’s last congress on digital printing before the covid pandemic. Photo: IPP

Early December, the German Printers and Media Federation, the BVDM, undertook its third survey on the state of the printing industry in Germany this year. The results show that 90% of German printers have been confronted with order decreases and cancellations – presumably due to the Covid pandemic. Of these, 60% report that the pandemic has battered their businesses.

Even though printers appear to be slightly more optimistic than during the BVDM surveys of April and June, about one-third of all printing enterprises expect a decrease in sales turnover of 25% or more for this year. 40% of the printers surveyed expect that sales will not improve before autumn 2021 at the earliest.

Financial support of the German government

Most printers – around 80%, are making use of a part-time scheme for their production staff, with government financial support. Nevertheless, 40% expect to be compelled to revert to lay-offs in the near future. Three-quarters of all enterprises decided to postpone investments, 63% canceled certain investments altogether, compared to the June survey when only 55% of the enterprises expected to delay investments and 27% to cancel their investment plans.

The survey results are based on forms completed by more than 400 representative enterprises in the printing industry, of whom 75% employ less than 50 staff, and another 20% with less than 20 staff. BVDM claims that the survey covers all printing industry segments, with most participants – 70%, in commercial printing.

With 12,000 companies, 180,000 staff, and Euro 40 billion (approximately Rs 3,00,000 crore) sales turnover, the German printing industry is the largest in the European Union. It compares to the EU’s total numbers of 120,000 companies, 630,000 staff, and Euro 88 billion (approximately Rs 6,60,000 crore) sales turnover. In much of Europe, the printing industry’s situation is very similar to that of their colleagues in Germany.

BVDM’s last congress on digital printing before the covid pandemic. Photo: IPP

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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