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Large format printers a positive in a flat market

A growth in demand for large format A3 printers is one of the areas for optimism in a print hardware market that had a tough finish to last year

The printer hardware market has managed to deliver slight growth in the UK with the Western European market showing signs of softness at the close of last year.

An analysis of the fourth quarter's fortunes from analyst house Context revealed that across Western Europe there were flat revenues and sales through distribution were down year-on-year by 4%.

Revenues managed to avoid dropping because prices had risen through the quarter with most vendors rolling out higher ticketed business inkjets.

The UK saw sales increase by 1.4% in Q4 and France, Spain and Italy also delivered improvements. But mainland Europe was dragged down by the performance of Germany.

“Sales of business inkjets grew in most major Western European countries”, said Zivile Brazdziunaite, imaging market analyst at Context. “However, in Germany, which is the largest market in the region, there was a strong decline in Q4 2017 with sales falling by 12% year-on-year.”

HP remained the market leader and saw some benefits from its A3 portfolio with that hardware segment increasing 3% year-on-year at both the low and high-end of the product spectrum. It was followed by Epson, Brother and Canon, which was the only vendor to experience a sales rise.

The firm has been encouraging managed print specialists to embrace its large format PageWide products and deliver those on a managed basis because of the increasing demand for customers for that delivery approach.

OKI Europe is also a vendor looking for more large format sales and has signed Print Partnership Reprographics to handle its ColorPainter E64s range.

“We also believe access to OKI’s E64s opens up potential in a whole range of areas including building and vehicle wraps, exhibition graphics, banners, backlit signage, fleet and vehicle graphics and wall and floor graphics," said  Rob Brown, head of industry print at OKI.

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