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A look at the graphics and papermaking industry

28 022018


Let’s take stock, alongside Pietro Lironi, Assografici President, of a sector that continues to progress at a variable pace, with positive results for the papermaking-processing industry. The graphics industry is continuing to struggle, even if there’s no shortage of interesting ideas.

Having just put last year behind us, it’s now time to take a look at the preliminary results, with the help of the trade associations that monitor market development on a regular basis.

Pietro Lironi, Assografici President, explains that this is a sector that continues to progress at a variable pace: the graphics industry is still struggling, albeit with some more promising signs, while the papermaking and processing industry is experiencing a period of non-stop development. The Printing and Packaging Observatory (OSI) economic study for the first six months of 2017, reveals a 7% fall in turnover for graphics companies in the first semester when compared to the same period in 2016, in addition to a 12.8% fall in productivity. By contrast, the first semester of 2017 saw additional growth for the papermaking-processing industry equating to a 1.9% increase in profits and a 2.4% rise in productivity.

“Rather than a recovery, you could say that we are dealing with a macro-sector that is progressing at two decidedly different speeds”, explained Lironi. “Unfortunately, the graphics industry is not experiencing a recovery and continues to be marred by the recession, which first took hold ten years ago. The first semester of 2017 was especially and unexpectedly negative, more so from a production than an economic perspective, since it lacked the support required from foreign demand, with exports experiencing double-digit losses. As of the second semester, 2017 was decidedly less negative and our current end-of-year forecast anticipates a declining trend of between approximately 4% and 5% in terms of turnover and between approximately 7% and 8% in terms of productivity. The papermaking-processing industry has instead continued to flourish, with good growth that has been fairly constant since 2014. Subsequent to a positive first semester, in terms of both productivity and turnover, and with the support of foreign demand, the sector experienced a slowdown in growth in the third trimester and an acceleration in growth in the final part of the year. Our current end-of-year forecast for 2017, for both turnover and productivity, envisages a positive trend with growth of approximately 2% and 3%”.


Which sectors have done better and which have done worse: editorial, sales and packaging
“In 2017, the graphics sector was characterised by a decline in production involving both segments of the publishing and advertising and commercial graphics industries: advertising and sales graphics closed the year with a loss of approximately 9% and publishing with a loss of approximately 6%. Magazines and printed and commercial advertising experienced the greatest losses in terms of production, whilst the book printing industry remained stable. The factors that have boosted the sector to some degree, especially in the second semester, include the substantial acceleration of the recovery in terms of GDP and consumption, growing consumer confidence, confirmation of the 500-euro Cultural Bonus for eighteen-year-olds and the respectable increase in turnover of the book industry within trade channels, with growth of 5.8% in 2017 according to Aie forecasts. Advertising has however continued to struggle with a 3.3% overall decline and an 8.4% decline in printing in the first nine months of the year according to Nielsen, with advertising on billboards and direct mail in crisis, despite Upa suggesting a more negative end to the year. Instead, the papermaking-processing industry has seen production growth for both the paper, cardboard and flexible packaging sector, amounting to approximately 2%, and the papermaking industry, amounting to approximately 5-6%. Within the packaging sector, in particular, growth has been slower for folding cartons and high-volume sacks, and better for corrugated board. The top-performers have once again been flexible packaging and self-adhesive labels. The sector has been sustained by GDP growth, consumption and industrial production more generally. As regards the most profitable segments in terms of demand for paper, cardboard and flexible packaging, the food-beverage sector has enjoyed moderate success, the cosmetics-fragrance sector has progressed well and the pharmaceutical sector has flourished.

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