'The UK print market has recovered' `- GfK

Print market spiked by 9.9 per cent in volume
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As printers start to pick up in the tech market, Oscar Diamond, account manager for office at GfK, takes a look at what is driving this growth…

After a weak start to 2015, the UK print market has recovered in March and April to grow by 9.9 per cent in volume and minus one per cent in value. The value declines were largely driven by the Laser market, which continues its pattern of long-term decline.

Laser printing as an area has been hit hard over the past four years or so by the rise of business inkjet printers. Traditionally laser printers were seen as preferable over inkjet printers for businesses, as they offered superior quality when printing in bulk and at a cheaper cartridge cost.

However this paradigm has been challenged by a number of manufacturers over the past few years, which have launched ranges of inkjet printers targeted directly at small and medium businesses. Powered by advances in inkjet printing technology, business ink printer sales have grown rapidly in the UK and have directly affected the laser market negatively.

Laser printer sales were down by four per cent volume and 13.6 per cent value in April 2015 year-on -year. Furthermore, the business ink market, which has grown more than 50 per cent in value since Q4 2011 is showing signs of slowing down in 2015. Sales started with a very poor performance in January and February, down 19.4 per cent and 16.2 per cent in value respectively, but have recovered to grow by 2.6 per cent in April. The business ink market is expected to level out over 2015 rather than decline as much as it did at the start of the year, but it is a clear sign that the years of 30 per cent growth are gone.

The rest of the inkjet market (non-business ink) has performed very well in 2015, growing 12.2 per cent in volume and 3.6 per cent in value in April. Looking at this segment by single function vs multi-function, all of the growth is coming from multifunction (13 per cent volume) while single function continues to decline (34 per cent volume). Inkjet printing has seen a number of innovative new ink payment models introduced in the last year, boosting public interest and providing an incentive to upgrade. Ink is now available on a contract subscription plan, as well as a one off bulk purchase with certain models.

The continued and expected dominance of multi-function printers makes it no surprise standalone scanners are in decline.

In Q1 2015 scanners declined by 20 per cent in volume and 13 per cent in value, although they performed better in April, down eight per cent and five per cent volume and value. As entry level scanner tech is easily incorporated into printers, it is also unsurprising to see the scanner market move away from the less than £100 price bracket (GfK POS tracking data).

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