The National Association of Paper Merchants' (NAPM) recently held its 91st Annual Dinner at the Park Plaza Riverbank in London, with around 250 members and their guests enjoying the night's proceedings.
Outgoing NAPM President and Denmaur Independent Papers Managing Director Mike Gee outlined in his speech the current challenging trading conditions being experienced by UK paper merchants during 2010, but he also provided some healthier forecasts for 2011. The key points were:
- The economy grew by 1.4% in 2010 with predictions of continued growth to 2.2% for 2011.
- Total tonnage volumes for UK paper merchants declined by 5.2% on the 2009 figures. This follows on from a 9.2% decline between the 2009 and 2008 totals.
- Total value of products sold through paper merchants in 2010 was 2.6%, up on 2009 with average prices in December 2010 around 14.3% higher than in December 2009.
- Woodfree coated qualities saw a reduction of only 2.1% on the previous year.
- Sales of cut-sizes through merchants declined by 7.0% in volume terms in 2010 compared with 2009.
It's not all bad news however. Both the Publishing and Board sectors showed encouraging growth in 2010 with board volumes growing by 7.3% year-on-year. In addition the total level of bad debts being suffered by merchants in 2010 was 16.6% down on 2009 levels to £14.6 million.
Mike also announced that the NAPM continues to be proud of the "Two Sides" initiative which was planned back in 2007 as an NAPM initiative and has now expanded across Europe, alongside the recently launched Print Power campaign. Mike closed his speech by announcing that his successor as President of the NAPM in 2012 will be Tim Elliott, Managing Director of family-owned independent paper merchant group, Elliott Baxter.
Michael Johnson, Chief Executive of the BPIF, responded on behalf of the guests in his speech, with a clear message for those in the room. "It is high time for a bit more optimism about the future. Print is back, the future is again looking positive. Pessimism about the decline of the printing industry just wastes time and leads to opportunities being missed. Print is a great industry with huge economic significance to UK PLC but we have to tell media buyers about the benefits of print and ensure they understand the great return on investment that print media delivers. So get out there and tell our story!"