Collaboration, innovation urged for survival of printing industry

Robert McClements CEO of CDi (Creative Digital Industries) and Mike Hopkins, Visual Media Conference Project Manager, with the Royal Armouries' Terra Cotta Warrior.
Robert McClements CEO of CDi (Creative Digital Industries) and Mike Hopkins, Visual Media Conference Project Manager, with the Royal Armouries' Terra Cotta Warrior.
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Printers must look to collaborate and innovate if they’re to survive, that’s the warning from a retail expert.

Stefan Casey, business innovation manager for retail, food and drink at the Retail Institute, told The Yorkshire Post that printers needed to look into investing in innovation like nanography and different types of ink.

Mr Casey, who will be speaking at the Visual Media Conference next week, said: “The print sector for me has been for a long time strained. It’s a very volatile marketplace, there’s a lot of competition, with a lot of printers unfortunately going under.”

He said that those that had prospered had put a lot of effort into how they interacted with their customers. Mr Casey acknowledged that print was turning a corner, but he said that it was an ongoing process.

“Those that are doing better are innovating and collaborating,” he added.

The broad strokes of Mr Casey’s talk at the Visual Media Conference will be about multi-sensory customer experience. How touch, taste and feel can help engage customers and as a result of this why printers should look to innovate in the use of ink and nanography.

Mr Casey said: “The print for packaging area is now seeing a rise in interest. People want to touch a product and packaging is their first touch point, that print is important.”

Roger Marsh, chair of Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, will also be speaking at the Visual Media Conference, hosted by CDi (Creative and Digital Industries) Yorkshire, next week. Mr Marsh said that “creativity was in our DNA” as a region.

He added: “In terms of our desire to transform the economy, we’re looking at six sectors and one of those sectors is creative and digital.

“I’m delighted that the forthcoming conference from CDi is a sell-out this year. They must, like we do, believe that there’s something important here.”

He also described Google’s decision to launch the Digital Garage workshop in Leeds as a “major coup.”

He added “I think these are game changingly important. It shouldn’t be a surprising that the conference is a sell-out.”

This year the Visual Media Conference is set to have an international flavour, with speakers such as Dan Nelson, president of the Visual Media Alliance in California.

Owner of Dalton Maag, a custom and retail font foundry, Bruno Maag will also be a speaker at the second Visual Media Conference.

He will be talking about typesetting in new media. Mr Maag said: “In recent years digital and mobile media has taken off dramatically. This has created a myriad of challenges for designers as we’re having to design for platforms that we are not able to predict where our work is going to end up.”

Mr Maag, who started his career in typesetting nearly 35 years ago, said: “Today, the first consideration is the screen but the fonts are still going to be printed.

“This has an effect on how we design but we’re always designing and testing our fonts to avoid having to create media specific versions. Print is not going away soon.”

The organisers of the Visual Media Conference unveiled last week that they had added another speaker, Steve Whiting, to the event.

Mr Whiting wrote The Art of Search book, using the 2,500 year-old Chinese text The Art of War it illustrates how a business can make the most of search engine optimisation. That will also be the theme of Mr Whiting’s talk at the conference.

The Visual Media Conference will take place on March 31 at the Rose Bowl, Leeds Beckett University.

Print is not going away

Print may have been through a tough time but its importance as part of the wider marketing mix remains.

Bruno Maag said: “Print is not going away soon.”

Roger Marsh added: “Print continues to be very important, things we read, packages we get with our groceries.

“Of course, there’s still a place for that, but delivered in an efficient and modern way.”