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Last year had its fair share of ups and downs.

IPEX, growth in ink-jet technology, packaging sectors' continued growth and increased environmental awareness were the high points of a year faced with trepidation; while closing printshops, machinery lying idle, squeezed margins and rising costs of consumables are but a few examples of distinct lows of the 12 months gone by.

Printers are entering into the new year with mixed feelings. While improvements in turnover and profit margins in the last quarter of the last year have raised hopes, the industry still prefers to err on the side of caution, keeping all options open.

Print shops will have to focus energies on core competencies, treading with care before any decision is made to increase capacity.

On the trade show front, the diary for the coming year is full, with Sign and Graphic Imaging (SGI) leading the events calendar, followed by Gulf Print in March, Paper Arabia and SIM, all major exhibitions in the region. Most leading players in the industry, whether manufacturers, traders or distributors almost always participate in the trade shows, investing time and money, leading one to believe that print still has a long way to go, regardless of what the soothsayers say.