Much has changed in the global economy in the last two or three years in response to Covid, Brexit, Ukraine and the increased cost of living, to name but some of the challenges during this period. A particular change we have identified in the print and packaging sector is the increase in companies looking to bring print and packaging either in-house or to source in the UK.

The trend over the last 15 years or so has been to outsource specialist services such as print and packaging from abroad for reasons of economy. Our experience has clearly shown there is now a reversal of this trend – we are receiving many more enquiries, several from large, well-known brands, to identify print and packaging companies  who offer the specific services they need and to act for them with a view to an acquisition, or major supplier or both.

We put this recent desire to own their own facilities down to a very necessary reassessment of supplier services undertaken by companies in the light of the profound changes which have affected supply chains in global trading. In particular, Covid is a major influence for this change, as it has caused supply issues for those sourcing print from the Far East and Eastern Europe. Labour force problems caused by the pandemic, compounded by similar issues in goods transportation, have given rise to extended lead times and availability problems. These, in turn, have impacted companies’ ability to meet orders for their own products. The effects of Covid and lockdown have made many end-users realise that having supplies closer to home could well offer better, more reliable service.

Brexit too has made global sourcing, especially from the EU, more complex with much increased red tape requirements as well as new trade arrangements to become familiar with. Sourcing supplies from within the UK overcomes many of these problems.

Security of supply has become a major factor in the increased interest in acquiring in-house print and packaging facilities. Businesses need their supplies when they want them and can’t afford to wait or to incur additional shipping costs or maintain higher stock levels to insure against these delays. Added to these supply and transport issues, production costs have also been rising in hitherto low-cost production areas which are no longer offering the same level of cost advantage.

These are the factors which are leading to the reassessment of supply and the repatriation of print and packaging back to UK. And let’s give our  industry credit where it is due. We have a highly efficient print and packaging industry here at home. From personal experience visiting print and packaging businesses around the world, I know there are few, if any, who can claim to be better than their UK counterparts. I’m delighted that print and packaging are coming home.


Paul Holohan is CEO of print and packaging industry mergers and acquisitions specialist Richmond Capital Partners