Sizing the European Printing Industry

Ralf Schlozer
Jan 9, 2013

Understanding the number of establishments that produce print, at a for-cost or for-a-profit basis, is an important requirement for any print-related market sizing, planning, and forecasting exercise. There are some official statistical sources at least for Western Europe and parts of all printing establishments, however, with Europe being an aggregate of many countries, this does not make for an easy task.

Unfortunately timeliness and detail level and even statistical methodology differ from country to country. When comparing the number of enterprises, especially micro-organisations with no employees, this will distort the picture, as some countries count them, while others do not. Additionally, when statics do include the companies without employees, they artificially inflate the total number of companies without really adding to the total industry revenue. Other areas like copy services, packaging & label printing, direct mail services do not fall into the printing classification and are more difficult to size. There are other types of establishments like in-house sites, data centre printing and service bureaux, which are totally below the radar of official statistics.

Every two years InfoTrends is undertaking the considerable task of collecting and analysing the printing industry in Western Europe. The data was collected from various sources such as European and National statistical offices, statistics published by the national trade associations, and other interest groups in the graphic arts industry. Additional data has been derived from InfoTrends’ reports as well as trade directories.

The Printing Establishments Sizing Update 2012 report lists the number of establishments and revenue for 12 different types of companies in the printing industry in Western Europe, based on 2010 data —the most recent year for which relatively complete statistical information is available. With a total of over €132 billion, the printing industry in Western Europe is a quite sizeable business. Commercial printers account for the bulk of shipments, with about half of that revenue. In-house printing sites and packaging printers add about 10% each to the total Western European revenue, while other types of enterprises contribute significantly less. More than 135,000 enterprises are active in the printing industry, although almost all of them are small. Again, commercial printers contribute the largest group with just under a third of all print establishments. Copy shops, in-house printers, and small corporate copy/print sites are very numerous, as well. Germany has the largest number of establishments, followed by Italy and the U.K.

Share of European Print Enterprises by Type

It is no surprise to see that printing industry revenues dropped in recent years and especially the drop of almost 10% between 2008 and 2009 was very significant. Commercial print dropped even by over 13% in that year, faring worse than most other industry segments. Since then revenues continued to decline, but at a much lower rate, as a slow economy and pressure from electronic media is still weighing down on demand. Commercial print revenue is expected to drop by almost 2% per year between 2010 and 2016. Newspaper and data centre print is expected to drop faster, while packaging and label print should even post some growth.

The number of establishments did drop far slower than revenues from 2008 to 2010, which points to more insolvencies in the near future. The number of companies is expected to decrease by 2%-5% per year, depending on the industry sector.

More details on the size and trends in the Western European print industry, including some data on Eastern Europe is available in the European Printing Establishments Sizing Update 2012 report, now available in our report store.

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