Despite the continuing supply chain issues affecting the Western European hardcopy market, 1Q22 was a relatively good quarter for some, but still pretty bad for others.

Widely publicised supply chain issues for hardware, toner, and ink have now been compounded in some quarters by paper shortages, especially in the production segments, and by inflation, which is increasing prices across all sectors from home to office use.

When comparing the market to 1Q21, when demand was extraordinarily high due to lockdowns, the overall market declined year on year by 16,3%. When compared to the pre-pandemic quarter of 1Q20, however, the market remains effectively flat.

Some volume and value OEMs have seen significant growth due to a range of factors such as improved go-to-market strategies, new price plans, effective supply chain management, and portfolios simply matching demand for the home and office.

Now that lockdowns have ended, many suppliers will now switch their attention from the home back to the office, but these new opportunities are again being hampered by supply chain issues that are likely to continue throughout the year, for some at least.

The inkjet shipment figure of 3,12-million units was the highest 1Q shipment figure for more than four years. This shows that demand for lower-cost consumer and office devices remains strong, but laser growth was severely restricted due to supply chain woes — with the shipment figure of 1,19-million the lowest 1Q shipment figure for more than 20 years.

There are significant back orders for most suppliers, and some have taken to simply not tendering for certain contracts as they believe they could not fulfill the orders in the near future.

“As workers return to their places of employment the demand for hardcopy devices remains strong, but the continuing supply chain issues for hardware and supplies are seriously hampering recovery for many suppliers. On the plus side, those with fewer issues are taking advantage and are seeing their sales and installed base increase,” says Phil Sargeant, senior program director, Western European imaging, hardware devices and document solutions group at IDC.

* The overall Western European hardcopy market declined 16,3% year on year in 1Q22, with shipments at 4,32-million units.

* The 1Q22 market value in Europe declined by 14,3% to €2,1-billion.

* Inkjet shipments declined 31% in 4Q21; consumer inkjets declined by 34% but business inkjets increased by 8,4%.

* Overall laser shipments declined by 15,9% year on year in 1Q22; color shipments declined by 18,5%, while monochrome shipments declined by 14,3%.

* The inkjet market contracted by 16,2%; consumer markets declined by 12,9% and business inkjets declined by 31%.