Tarsus Group, the organizer of Gulf Print & Pack 2021, has recently hosted the second of its virtual round table discussions with top representatives from the printing industry in the Middle East, focusing on digital print technologies in the region.
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 discussion: Ayman Aly, senior marketing manager, Canon Middle East; Halim El-Khoury, business manager, large format printing, UAE and KSA at 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.
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. Several key factors that had helped printing remain resilient in recent months were credited with the industry's current high level of trust.
This included many market segments which have performed exceptionally 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 personalized label printing was also noted as a significant growth area, with an increasing move from conventional to digital printing. Simultaneously, hybrid too was seen as an area with potential, given its space-saving benefits. The panel also agreed that service support and maintenance are being increasingly conducted remotely 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 significant growth area as reversing these trends will be difficult. At the same time, the impact on the retail industry had also created an opportunity, with considerable effort being put into signage campaigns and in-store promotion, to entice customers back into shops.
Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director at Labelexpo and Gulf Print & Pack, said: ‘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.’
Ayman Ali added: ‘Today, we are witnessing a shift from traditional Offsets to digital printing, and this is mainly due to growing customer demands when it comes to faster turnaround times and shorter runs. As we see increasing demand, this segment is poised to create new growth opportunities in 2021 and beyond. This discussion was an opportunity for us to discuss this growth and further examine regional market trends, as well as outlook and technology opportunities. At Canon Middle East, we continue to leverage cutting-edge digital print tools in line with customer needs.’
‘I’d like to thank our panelists for taking part and we look forward to running the next Gulf Print & Pack hosted discussion in the coming weeks. It’s vitally important that the industry continues to engage and exchange ideas openly while we cannot meet face to face, so any supplier or printer keen to take part in future round table sessions is encouraged to get in touch with us,’ concluded Thomas-Emans.
You can watch the entire session in our video section.