It's bad news and good news from Converting Today's home front in the UK this month. The bad news is that large parts of the country have been suffering the onslaught of storms, floods and seemingly perpetual rainfall, ruining the homes, lives and livlihoods of thousands. Our hearts go out to all of them.
The good news is that the UK economy is finally showing positive signs of a gradual recovery from the doldrums. One of the many encouraging indicators is the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) for January 2014.
Stephen Cooper, KPMG's head of UK industrial manufacturing, explains: "The UK manufacturing sector made a positive start to 2014 with the PMI at 56.7. In January, the UK manufacturing sector showed the highest growth figures compared with the other sectors. The results also support the UK GDP figures for the sector, which saw an above expectations increase for 2013 of 1.9% - the highest since 2007."
Staying with the positive theme, the UK will also be the stage for two major exhibitions for our industry in the coming weeks.
This month sees three shows in one for converters, as the new Converting Innovations event joins Print Innovations and Labelling Innovations as part of the all-embracing Packaging Innovations multi-show on 26-27 February at the NEC, Birmingham.
Alison Church, event director at show organiser easyFairs, remarks: "Until now, the UK has not provided suppliers of converting machinery, equipment and technology with an opportunity to meet buyers and influencers face-to-face in an environment that is proven to deliver business. With the UK packaging converting market worth £11 billion, we had to reflect this at the 2014 show."
Our focused preview of some of the exhibits to be seen at the Print, Labelling and Converting Innovations events can be found in the features section of this issue, while a broader Packaging Innovations preview can be found in the February issue of our sister publication Packaging Today (www.packagingtoday.co.uk).
The other 'must visit' show coming up soon is Ipex 2014 (24-29 March at London's ExCeL). Group marketing manager Angelina Stojsavljevic gives her take on developments in the print industry in this month's Viewpoint feature.