Tarsus Group, the organizer of Gulf Print & Pack 2021, recently hosted the second of its virtual round table discussions with top representatives from the commercial and wide-format printing industry in the Middle East.
Aimed at keeping the region’s industry connected in the months leading up to the December show, this second session, “Smart use of digital print technologies in the MEA region”, took place on Wednesday 24 February. Topics discussed included: how individual large-format printing businesses had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; exploring if digital printers / print service providers in MEA have identified new markets during this time; digital printing and textiles; regional trends in selecting / buying machinery; hybrid printing; digital package printing; automation; and demographic trends.
Four expert panelists from the region took part in the lively discussion: Ayman Aly, senior marketing manager, Canon Middle East; Halim El-Khoury, business manager, large format printing, UAE & KSA, HP; Philippe Hosni, general manager, Helliozid Océ Emirates; and Shihab Zubair, regional sales manager, Epson Europe. While Akanksha Meena, editor, Labels and Labeling Middle East and North Africa / Brand Print / Gulf Print & Pack, chaired the session.
Overall, the panel agreed that the pandemic had resulted in significant positive changes to the printing industry, creating opportunities to adapt and be flexible. It had also encouraged customers and suppliers alike to rethink short-term over long-term priorities and ways of working. A number of key factors that had helped printing remain resilient in recent months were credited with the current high level of trust in the industry.
This included a number of market segments which have performed particularly well and proved popular with customers; digital signage, Covid applications such as in-office safety signage, vinyl printing, and entry-level consumer printing. Short-run personalised label printing was also noted as a major growth area, with an increasing move from conventional to digital printing, while hybrid too was seen as an area with potential, given its space-saving benefits. The panel also agreed that service support and maintenance is being done increasingly via software and online, while the lack of face-to-face contact with customers and working from home have driven automation technology.
Digital label and package printing – corrugated in particular – was likewise regarded as one of the most positively impacted applications, driven by the growth in e-commerce following the temporary closure of shopping malls and changing consumer habits. The panel agreed that most vendors would be looking at this as a major growth area as reversing these trends will be difficult. At the same time, the impact on the retail industry had also created opportunity, with significant effort being put into signage campaigns and in-store promotion, to entice customers back into shops.
Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director, Labelexpo / Gulf Print & Pack, said of the session: “We are delighted to see our virtual round table discussions gathering momentum, with a successful second open discussion with the commercial and wide-format printing industry in the MEA region. It’s incredibly encouraging to hear that smart digital technologies continue to flourish, since these will be vitally important as we move into the post-Covid recovery phase.”