Continued pressures on small to medium sized self-adhesive label printers in a highly competitive market have prompted some UK label converters to form the British Short Run Label Association (BSRLA). It aims to promote the interests of the many smaller firms involved principally in short run work, much of it to end users. So far it has gained support from 26 companies. They generally recognize that while the industry maintains slow volume growth, continued downward pressures on pricing and increasing costs from multinational suppliers make for difficult trading conditions.
The association has developed is own web site (www.bsrla.org.uk), a private e-mail discussion forum and a code of conduct intended to promote ethical, fair and sustainable trade in the market place. It is also investigating group buying for some raw materials. “We hope to establish a useful forum for the smaller UK label printer to discuss topical issues, including the current wave of material price increases,” says Adrian Steele of Mercian Labels Ltd., who led the initiative. “Existing organizations such as FINAT have little relevance for the smaller UK label printers and converters. We won’t be doing golf days or gala dinners — that doesn’t help us. People resent paying £300 to £500 subscriptions (around $540 to $900) for associations that do nothing for them.
“We also want to encourage fair and honest practices in the trade to identify, isolate and eventually drive out the unethical practices that continue to operate in some sectors of the industry,” adds Steele. This refers to the practice of printers taking on trade work for other printers and then approaching their customers directly. The BSRLA’s concern over raw material price rises might lead to a collaborative buying scheme involving a few chosen suppliers.