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Delivery delays and a ‘ridiculous’ paper price hike hit Welsh printers and publishers before Christmas

05 Nov 2021 3 minute read
The Gwasg Gomer building in Llandysul. The printers in the town will remain open

Timothy Schelhaas 

Brexit and pandemic-related issues are causing problems for the Welsh printing and publishing industry before Christmas, with companies facing rising costs and significant delays in delivery time.

The rising costs will increasingly be passed on to customers, according to some printing companies who said that they can no longer afford to soak up the increasing paper prices.

Jonathan Lewis, company director of Gomer Press, an industry-leading printing company based in Llandysul, said: “We have had to increase prices to customers.

“There is no way that we could absorb these unprecedented increases in materials. Not only have paper prices gone up but all consumables as well, including ink.”

Gomer reported to have lost at least one customer due to the rising costs, and said they had endured four paper price hikes. They are anticipating further increases in December and January.

One paper supplier recently sent a foreboding message to printing companies in their customer base, warning that it has now become impossible to offer long-term stable pricing.

They said that dramatic cost increases in energy, raw materials, and transportation are forcing their hand to increase prices, noting that their industry is no exception to global price instability.

Marcus Jones, director of W. O. Jones Printers, based in Anglesey, said that paper suppliers are having issues: “The most recent being an ‘energy’ surcharge on carriage of all things.

“Paper, since the start of the pandemic, has gone up nearly 40%, which is ridiculous,” he said. He said his company was no longer able to stop prices from going up.

“For over 18 months, we have absorbed the paper price increases, but as of September we have had no other option to pass it on to customers as our competitors have been doing it since the start,” he said.

Delivery delays

Delivery delays, partly due to the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, are another widespread issue, putting further pressure on an already weakened Welsh printing industry.

Gomer Press noted that they can still get some paper relatively quickly, but other types of paper now takes more than three months to arrive instead of the usual two to three weeks.

They have also had to split certain deliveries, as they are no longer permitted to send out more than seven pallets of paper to a specific customer.

Y Lolfa, a printing and publishing company based in Talybont, is confident it will meet Christmas demand — however, they also reported that paper takes longer than usual to arrive.

They said: “Some paper and card types are now impossible to buy. The ‘cream-coloured’ paper we use for novels, which used to take a month to arrive, now takes ten weeks.”

In the last few months, industry insiders have reported on “paper instability,” advising that printing companies should order paper months ahead to avoid shortfalls.

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