18 May 2022
UK printing industry output continues to recover
But output price increases not enough to offset energy, material and wage cost increases and restore margins.
The UK printing and printed packaging industry has continued to grow in 2022, but the pace of that recovery has taken a setback in Q1 - output and orders are expected to continue to improve in Q2. The Q1 improvement came amidst the lifting of the Government's ‘Plan B' measures in January, following their introduction in December to help dampen the rate of Covid infections. Covid infections did spike in early January but then dropped quickly before a subsequent (but lower) spike in late March. Risks to further recovery remain high, particularly from the cost explosion for energy and materials, increased pressure on labour costs, and the heightened uncertainty linked to global unrest and the war in Ukraine.
The latest Printing Outlook survey reveals that 41% of printers managed to increase their output levels in the first quarter of 2022, a further 38% were able to hold output steady. However, the remaining 21% did experience a fall in their output levels. The resulting balance (the difference between the ups and the downs) was +20, well below the +45 in Q4, and below the Q1 forecast (+34). Whilst the lifting of the ‘Plan B' restrictions came quite early in the quarter, the restrictions did still have a limiting effect on the pace of recovery - as of course has the disruption caused by continued workplace absences due to Covid infections. However, a fourth consecutive quarter of positive output growth means that, for the first time in four years, output has increased for a full 12-month period.Downloads
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Access the latest edition of the Economic Newsletter for the European Printing Industry for data on industry turnover, energy prices, paper consumption and pricing data for pulp, paper and recovered paper.
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