According to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market decreased by 5.8% in unit terms in 2Q18 compared with the same period a year ago. This means that the first half of 2018 has declined by 3.6%. This decline amounted to over 273,000 units for the whole of Western Europe. Not all countries contracted, however, as positive results were recorded for Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. Most major segments witnessed a decline but there were some growth segments such as A3 inkjet MFPs, A3 color laser MFPs, and high-speed inkjets.
The inkjet market contracted by 4.5%, with notable falls in the consumer markets. Business inkjet shipments also fell slightly, but they remain positive for the first half of 2018. The main year-on-year decline was seen in the A4 markets, but the A3 inkjet MFP market continues to increase and there were increases in both the desktop and standalone markets as the technology becomes more popular in many industries. Overall inkjet printer sales declined by more than a third, while overall inkjet MFP shipments dipped slightly. Laser markets were again subdued, declining by 8.5%. Both printer and MFP markets slid, with the worst performing segments being the A4 color printer market (which declined by a third) and the A3 monochrome MFP market (which declined by a fifth). The only segment to see growth was the A3 color MFP market, despite the continued growth in the A3 inkjet market. Following on from 1Q, the high-speed inkjet market increased by over a third, showing the popularity of these production devices, with particularly strong growth in the continuous feed and label and packaging markets.
"The hardcopy markets have now declined year on year for the fourth straight quarter at an average rate of 3.8%", said Phil Sargeant, program director in IDC's Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions group. "It is clear that the long-term growth prospects for the overall market is negative with many OEMs suffering sales declines, but there are those that have invested in new segments and are now reaping the reward of growth in an otherwise declining market."
The overall Western European hardcopy market contracted by 5.8% year on year in 2Q18, recording a shipment figure of 4.4 million units.
There were three main growth areas: A3 inkjet MFPs increased by 12.6%, A3 color laser MFPs increased by 3.1%, and high-speed inkjets increased by 37.2%.
Overall laser continued to contract by 8.8%, with both monochrome and color seeing similar percentage declines.
83% of all hardcopy shipments are now from MFP products — an increase from the same period a year ago and a slight increase from 1Q18 also.
Main Country Highlights
Not all countries showed declines. Some were fairly positive, but the big 3 countries of Germany, France, and the U.K. were responsible for most of the declines. The big 3 country highlights are as follows:
Germany: the largest market in Western Europe declined by 16.1%. This was an overall decline of 185,000 units, with two-thirds being inkjets and a third lasers, so the decline was clearly not just confined to consumer markets as business markets also cut back on new investments. Despite this, Germany remains the largest market. All major segments witnessed a decline in 2Q18 and the only area of any growth was a blip in serial impact dot matrix, which is actually in a long-term decline.
France: shipments in 2Q18 showed a decline of 3.0%. With shipments of 848,000 units, this confirms that France is the second-largest market in Western Europe and that it performed well in some areas. Inkjet shipments increased again, this time by 2.3%, but laser shipments suffered badly, slipping by 17.3%. There were no major growth areas for lasers, but the small A3 color printer market increased.
United Kingdom: overall shipments declined by 4.6% in 2Q18, but the U.K. differed from some countries by showing an increase in laser shipments even though inkjets declined. The U.K. recorded a shipment figure of 782,000 units. Laser shipments increased by 3.0%, with particularly strong performances by the A4 and A3 color MFP segments. inkjet shipments declined by 6.7%, however, and although consumer markets contracted the business inkjet market increased by 4.1%.