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

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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