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Peter Morris, chairman of Picon, the UK association of print industry manufacturers and suppliers, says the industry is looking forward to Royal and sporting events

The UK printing industry continues to face difficult times. However, it is still a strong UK sector, employing almost 140,000 people in about 10,500 companies and generating a gross turnover of £14.3 billion. On a global scale it is the fifth largest producer of printed products in the world. But while there are a lot of challenges, there is also an air of optimism.

The UK is gearing up for three major events this year: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, followed closely by the Olympics in July/August and then the Paralympic Games in September. Not only are all of these significant cases for national celebration, but they will also have a major impact on the country’s tourist trade, bringing a £1billion plus boost to the economy.

The Olympic Games in particular are having a major impact on the UK print industry. While the overall economy is still flat, with several print firms having to tighten their belts and streamline, there is a general air of optimism in some quarters for those who are involved in printing material for these events.

The Olympics are impressive: 10,500 athletes will participate in 26 different sporting events over 34 venues around the country. What could also be called the ‘Print Olympics’ is involving print at every level: from 8.8 million tickets to 2,012 official pin-badge designs, a multitude of T-shirts, postcards, board games, £72 million worth of outdoor signage sites, and much, much more.

Instead of the usual one or two official posters, for example, this Olympics will see 12 posters designed by 12 of the UK’s leading artists available to buy as limited edition fine art prints and posters. All of this is in addition to the print and print-based advertising that is and will be generated by the major Olympic sponsors.

The UK last hosted the Olympics in 1948, when print was very much analogue and external advertising and signage was minimal. The Olympics is the largest single event to take place in the UK since the introduction of digital print, and wide format digital print, in particular, is in huge demand for traffic signage, hoardings and banners.

Not everything is rosy however. For the Olympic committee to decide to print most of the tickets in the USA in a contract worth £16 million is a major blow for the UK print industry, and a decision that seems out of kilter with the Government’s declared support for UK manufacturing.

The Queen’s Jubilee, six weeks before the Olympics, will feature a multitude of events around the country and, hopefully, will provide a more welcome boost to the UK print industry. All of these events will put the UK in the international spotlight during the summer, giving its printers an unprecedented and high profile platform.

As the trade association which represents suppliers to the printing industry in the UK, Picon is active in lobbying the banks to make it easier for UK printers to invest in capital equipment to grow their businesses. Our membership is wide and varied. Litho and digital, prepress and postpress, software and ancillaries, and all points between are represented, from large multinationals to small independent firms.

Members of Picon have access to all the services one would expect from an experienced and respected trade association. Training assistance grants, a business support helpline, credit checking, debt recovery help and various discounted industry services are all provided. Newsletters keep members updated with relevant information by email and Bite Size Bulletins distil necessary health, safety and environmental legislation, and relevant regulation.

However, there is more to Picon than this. It is an active and experienced lobbyist of parliament, building relationships with key figures in Whitehall and Westminster in order to give its members a voice.

Picon doesn’t have a motto. But if we did it would be very similar to the Olympic one of ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, or ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’. I would just add… and supporting UK businesses!

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and may not be shared by this publication.

Peter Morris Peter Morris

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