Narrow Web Europe


  • More beer labels now say ‘Skål’

    It has been unkindly remarked that every edition of Narrow Web Europe reports on some aspect of beer, wine or spirits labels. This has nothing to do with your correspondent’s drinking habits but simply reflects the importance of this sector of…
    04.16.15

  • Currency swings and roundabouts

    Violent exchange rate fluctuations have been rare in recent years. This year looks like the exception. In late January, and to general surprise, the Swiss Central Bank stopped intervening to hold down the value of the Swiss franc. Within minutes, the…
    John Penhallow 03.09.15

  • The happy pessimists

    Writing this in France at the start of 2015, your correspondent wonders why the French came bottom in a poll of forty countries for “confidence in the future,” while the same poll shows that over 80% of French people say they are “h…
    John Penhallow 01.26.15

  • Playing the game

    Few people, even in France, know that the second biggest “instant game” lottery in the world is French. The Française des Jeux (FDJ) is a government-controlled quasi-monopoly which also runs betting and a host of other gaming-relat…
    John Penhallow 11.17.14

  • Thank you, Brussels!

    Thank you, Brussels!

    Many people in Europe do not love the European Union, and still less do they love its administrative wing, the European Commission. But for once the Eurocrats of Brussels have enacted some legislation which seems to meet with general approval and whi…
    John Penhallow 10.10.14

  • The end of the United Kingdom?

    The end of the United Kingdom?

    North American readers surely have more important things to worry about than Scotland’s referendum, but just to remind you that on Thursday, September 18 of this year, when Scots go to the polls to vote on independence – a “yes&rdqu…
    John Penhallow 09.09.14

  • Expressing shelf appeal

    One of the lesser revelations at the FINAT Congress in Monaco in June was the difficulty, for the association’s secretariat, of translating this year’s theme – “the battle for shelf appeal” into French. The nation that h…
    John Penhallow 07.21.14

  • Could this be the next revolution?

    Could this be the next revolution?

    For more than ten years people in the PS label industry have been arguing and discussing the digital revolution, and the effects have indeed been revolutionary. But those of us who take a long-term view of technology, politics or indeed life in gener…
    06.02.14

  • Getting certified

    Getting certified

    Some things change: in the recent weeks of unseasonably mild, sunny weather, many citizens of Western Europe have changed over to thinking that maybe global warming isn’t such a bad thing after all. However this early spring has come right on t…
    John Penhallow 04.15.14

  • No recession in pharmaceutical labels and packaging

    No recession in pharmaceutical labels and packaging

    It is an established fact that the French are Europe’s leading pill-pushers. However, that is surely not the only reason for the success of the Pharmapack show, held in late February in Paris. The themes of the show can be counted on one hand:…
    John Penhallow 03.13.14

  • Belgian blues

    Belgian blues

    Mark Twain’s advice for making money was “Buy shares, wait for them to go up, then sell. If they don’t go up, don’t buy them.” Fund managers with the Bencis Capital Partners might possibly be pondering that piece of home…
    John Penhallow 01.24.14

  • The best of both worlds

    The best of both worlds

    If you come from the German-speaking part of Italy, you need to acquire the best of both worlds: Italian flair combined with German precision. And if you are combining these successfully while building narrow web digital presses in the town of Brixen…
    John Penhallow 11.21.13

  • A world without packaging

    A world without packaging

    A symposium with this provocative title took place recently in Belgium. Among the speakers was Bruno Ponsard from the Montreal Institut des Emballages et du Génie Alimentaire (non-French-speaking readers should note that Génie has nothi…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 10.14.13

  • Could this be a silver lining?

    It is starting to happen at last. And it’s not just Angela Merkel, François Hollande and José Manuel Barroso trying to pull Europe up by its bootstraps. No lesser authority than The Economist has just gone on record as announcing:…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 09.13.13

  • Record setting

    Record setting

    It is a fact not widely known (i.e. your correspondent has just found out) that the feast-day of John the Baptist, on June 24, is also the ‘fête des imprimeurs’. The French city of Strasburg this year used the occasion to celebrate…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 07.17.13

  • Forty years on

    Forty years on

    There has been much comment in the world’s press to mark the anniversary of the day in 1973 when a packet of chewing gum was adorned with the world’s first bar code. It is hard to imagine a world not only without bar codes and digital…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 05.31.13

  • Always look on the bright side…

    Always look on the bright side…

    If the future looks bleak for you, take comfort in the fact that it could be worse. You might for example be the organizer of Ipex, which used to be billed (unofficially) as Britain’s answer to Dusseldorf-based Interpack. The German packaging s…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 04.10.13

  • Horses for courses

    Several years ago, a number of cases of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “Mad Cow Disease” were diagnosed in England and several other European countries. Beef sales nosedived, and there was an export ban covering all countries where t…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 03.13.13

  • Fearing migration

    Fearing migration

    Many European countries, most notably Germany and Britain, seem to have an almost pathological fear of migration. Not the kind that has boat people landing in quiet creeks (though lots of people are afraid of that too), but the migration of nasty che…
    01.23.13

  • I like it, I’ll take five

    I like it, I’ll take five

    Rako, one of Germany’s top label and packaging converters, is back in the news again. In September of this year they announced that they had bought no less than five of HP Indigo’s latest label press, the WS6600. Roger Gehrke, Rako&rsq…
    John Penhallow, Contributing Editor 11.29.12