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Sign and display printers from Australia and New Zealand are at Fespa in a buoyant mood, lifted by good levels of business back home, and looking to invest in the future.

The sector has bounced back from its Covid hammering stronger than ever, with many of the printers at the show telling Print21 that their businesses were striding forward, with new work, higher volumes and better margins.

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Enjoying Fespa: (l-r) Grant Cunningham, Glenn Moffat, James Sultana, Keith Ferrel, Alasdair Wilson and Chris Gardiner

Some three or four dozen sign and display printers from Australia and New Zealand took time out from the show to network at the Fespa Australia afternoon, enjoying a convivial time with food and beverages provided.

Among the print businesses at the event many shared their investment plans, with top-of-the-range equipment on their shopping lists. Expansion was a key theme, along with new equipment; some are planning or are already moving into new premises, and one or two setting up new plants, including Easy Signs which is already looking for a second US location.

Keith Ferrel from Cactus Imaging is one of those enjoying ever-shorter posting times on static billboards; they were a year only a decade ago, and have gradually been coming down ever since, first to six months, then three, then one, and with some now only having fortnightly intervals, all good news for printers. He said, “While market share has decreased in some areas thanks to digital, the actual volume of print is on a continual rise.”

Bus shelters are even stronger, with one-week turnarounds now emerging from the major asset managers, meaning print volumes there are soaring.

Printers said there were benefits in Covid, in that the ‘fly by night’ operations went out of business, mainly due to cashflow issues, which has meant pricing hasn’t been dragged down to the floor in the recovery.

Reducing lead times, supply chain issues and the political stoush between Australia and China has meant a significant amount of onshoring of work that had previously gone overseas, again resulting in more work for local sign and display printers.

Also keeping the spirits up of the sign and display printers at Fespa was the success of the inaugural Fespa Australia Future Leaders programme, which saw eight young leaders recognised and mentored through the year, with the programme set to run again next year.

Hosted by Fespa Australia president Nigel Davies, and vice president David Asker from ImageBox, the Fespa Australia event proved to be another positive step in creating a cohesive industry.

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Hosts with the mosts: Fespa ANZ vice president David Asker (2nd left) and Fespa ANZ president Nigel Davies (2nd right), with Dominic Borrello (left), and Troy Cavanagh (right)
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