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The Soap Box

Key Industry Challenges

Brendan Perring listens to print’s most influential trade associations and bodies as they consider key industry challenges and the steps print companies can take to secure a successful future

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Neil Lovell of The Printing Charity says one way to build stronger industry links is to attract more applicants for the Print Futures Awards

Building stronger links with SMEs
Neil Lovell,
chief executive,
The Printing Charity

Looking to the year ahead, our sights are firmly set on building stronger links predominately with SMEs in the printing, publishing, packaging, and graphic arts sectors to raise awareness of the scope of our work from welfare to championing the sector to attract new people. Our focus on SMEs is due to the challenges they may face caused by resource constraints.

We are the industry’s only dedicated charity for the printing, publishing, and packaging sectors, but to help more people in a meaningful way, we need a strong industry network to spread the message about the financial support available from us for people, who have worked at least three years in the industry and are experiencing hardship due to changes in the workplace, ill health, or old age.

We appreciate that we cannot deliver all the services that people with often complex needs require, so we will be building new partnerships with organisations delivering specialist welfare and wellbeing support.

A new project for our education and partnerships team this year will look at how to help smaller businesses that are facing skills shortages due to the baby boomer generation retiring and increased competition from larger companies when recruiting staff.

A new project for our education and partnerships team this year will look at how to help smaller businesses that are facing skills shortages

February sees the launch of the Print Futures Awards, our flagship initiative helping to recruit and retain new talent in the sector. These annual awards, which are grants of up to £1,500, are open to UK residents aged 18 to 30 years, who are already or intend to work in the industry, to help them pay for a UK printing, publishing, packaging, or graphic arts qualification.

One of the aims of building stronger industry links is to attract more applicants for this year’s Print Futures Awards from people working in the industry, including apprentices, and those studying for NVQs. If you are an employer, please encourage your eligible staff to apply.

We are always interested in hearing from businesses about ways we can work together, so please get in touch with any suggestions by calling us on 01293 542 820, email support@theprintingcharity.org.uk or see www.theprintingcharity.org.uk.

Looking ahead in 2018…
Charles Jarrold,
chief executive officer,

The Christmas break is a great time not only for family, friends, feasting, and general merriment, but it is also a great time to step back, take stock, and think about the new year. It will bring the usual share of opportunities and challenges, so it will be important to hit the ground running in January. At the BPIF, we have been formulating a number of ways printers can take stock of their businesses and make changes for the better in 2018.
For those who want to make financial savings a priority for the new year, we have some high impact cost saving services for you to consider. Firstly, I strongly urge you to take a look at our Climate Change Levy Rebate Scheme. With the Government’s Climate Change Levy set to rise by 42 percent in 2019, being part of the scheme will give businesses a 90 percent discount off the levy on electricity and 65 percent on gas (rising to 93 percent and 78 percent respectively in 2019). This is a straightforward potential reduction in your energy costs—a refund by Government, which for qualifying companies is very significant.

One of the services offered by the BPIF is a health and safety healthcheck, to see how you can improve the wellbeing and safety of your staff

Secondly, we can help businesses apply for research and development tax credits. While many simply assume they do not qualify or dismiss this as something they do not have time for, one phone call will determine whether you are eligible, and our financial partners do much of the work for you. So even if you have simply amended a production process or software, or have spent money on achieving something different a customer has asked for, you could be claiming money back on your expenditures.

Thirdly, when the new General Data Protection Regulations come into effect in May, breaching them could mean a huge fine. Our experts can help businesses set clear goals and walk them through what they need to do to comply.

Fourthly, whether it is helping companies to save on the financial loss that comes with absenteeism thanks to a work related injury, or adopting more efficient health and safety procedures to help businesses run more smoothly, our ample online resources provide plenty of opportunities to save.

Fifthly, tightening up company processes is an excellent way to make significant savings in the long-run. With a range of services from productivity healthchecks to cost rate reviews, the hands-on approach our BPIF specialists take with businesses encourages staff to work together in adopting a more efficient, satisfying, and money-saving environment.

Finally, for those who want to take a step back at how they are running their businesses, our BPIF healthchecks are an ideal place to start. Whether it is an HR healthcheck for discussing performance goals and people development issues for 2018, a health and safety healthcheck to see how you can improve the wellbeing and safety of your staff, or a sales healthcheck to tune up your revenue activities for 2018 and beyond, there is something for everyone.

Take advantage of the renewed focus that January brings, and let us work together to make 2018 the best year yet for your business

So, once you have eaten the last mince pie, had the last turkey sandwich, and opened the last novelty Christmas present until next year, take advantage of the renewed focus that January brings, and let us work together to make 2018 the best year yet for your business.

One measured step at a time
Sidney Bobb,

‘A new year and with it new opportunities’. This is the sort of statement that most experts come out with at this time. Business owners tend to treat such remarks with cynicism and a touch of indifference. They believe that it is hard enough as things stand and with the demands on time, resources, and normal business pressures, where will these opportunities come from? Even more importantly, if they are recognised, how can capital be made from them?

In the main, companies of a modest size tend to be reactive and owners take the view that with so much going on every day where is the time going to come from to develop? While something new is being tried, eyes go off the ball, and instead of advancement, the business declines. That is certainly true, but people have succeeded and it brings to mind the old saying, ‘they can because they think they can’.

Most owners and managers believe that they are good at what they do, as do most employees. That is probably the key—everyone does have a talent, the skill is finding and developing attributes, while at the same time providing individuals with the freedom to develop.

Historically, few small businesses grew because of the efforts of one individual. Lord Sugar did not develop his business from selling car aerials out of the back of a van to a multinational by himself. Indeed, while he initially enjoyed success at Amstrad, his main operation today is in property. This success, while no doubt deserved, resulted from recognising change and taking advantage of opportunities.

It certainly was not a solo effort. Lord Sugar built a team around him and ensured that every individual had a certain amount of responsibility and autonomy so that the business, as a whole, could develop. He also ensured that his staff were trained, not simply in a way to improve day-to-day efficiency, but facilitated guidance to expand the capabilities of those around him. Certainly, Lord Sugar is a very talented individual and recognising he could not do everything himself was one of the keys of his success.

Obviously not every business is going to grow continually, but if owners do nothing then that is what is going to happen. This is an ideal time to evaluate the people in the business and see who really can be developed to help the company go forward. It is not necessary to take giant strides but one step at a time. Who knows, in years to come it could be you hosting The Apprentice and look what followed on for one American, a certain Mr Trump, who ended up doing that.

Obviously not every business is going to grow continually, but if owners do nothing then that is what is going to happen

Help is available from the BAPC, other trade bodies and a host of good consultancies. So, go forth and multiply—there are only another eleven months until this year ends.

A problem shared…
Marian Stefani,
chief executive officer,

December is always a busy month, but as Christmas approaches and business starts to wind down ready for the break, I thought it might be a good idea to review last year and think about what the IPIA would like to achieve in 2018.

The memorable moments of 2017 are without doubt our Everything’s Possible in Print (EPIP) conference and all the networking events. We ran more this year, including some held at our associates’ premises and I honestly think they were better than ever.

The memorable moments of 2017 are without doubt our Everything’s Possible in Print (EPIP) conference

I am convinced that over the last few years the political uncertainty and difficult trading conditions have led our members to be much more open and willing to share their business problems and successes. They use the networking to discuss issues with their peers, finding kindred spirits and likeminded business owners to talk to in a way that is probably not possible for them elsewhere.

In particular I have seen this with our print managers, who have put aside their competitive reticence and really engaged with each other, sharing ideas and solving problems.

To me this is an important benefit for our members—and it applies to them all, however big or small, and hopefully it will continue to develop through 2018.

We will be implementing our accreditation from January, setting a standard for the industry for trade suppliers and buyers. This has taken a long time to develop and I am excited that at last we have something ready to roll out—building on the founding principles of the IPIA of good business practice and excellence.

Of course, EPIP will be bigger and better next year. We are already planning the conference and starting to engage with brands and marketeers to build interest in attending. We are going to be busy here at IPIA headquarters, so I am looking forward to a relaxing time over the Christmas break to prepare for a full-on year of events. Happy 2018 everyone.

Public Notice:
  • Now is the time to see who in your business can be developed to help the company progress
  • February sees the launch of the Print Futures Awards
  • Breaching the new General Data Protection Regulations could mean a huge fine

To find out more about the issues discussed in this article please contact the relevant organisation via their website:
www.theprintingcharity.org.uk, www.britishprint.com, www.bapc.co.uk, www.ipia.org.uk

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