Myriad factors are creating a volatile environment transforming the types of signage and graphics found in retail stores.
Blee: Absolutely not. There is no question that when a retailer buys another retailer, you are either on the winning side or the losing side of who’s acquiring who. As you said, the consolidation is not only on the customer side, but on our side too. Ten years ago, if I thought about partnering with another graphics company, I would have said no—I’m OK and I can go it alone. Now, I take that call. I obviously think there is strength in numbers and I admire the diversity and the nationwide coverage that a company like Dan’s has. For a single-location company, it is becoming extremely challenging.
Pratt: One of the most significant changes we haven’t talked about yet was the entrance into our market by the large litho companies. It was a trend anyway, but when the publication market got knocked on its ear in 2008-09, these billion dollar companies looked at retail and said “Man, this is a market we’re not in.” That’s the biggest change in the industry. It isn’t us; it isn’t screen versus digital. Our industry has been flooded by large-format offset companies. Some of them have formed their own buying groups as a natural extension of what they’re offering. We’ve had new entrants into the market that are hugely funded, and they are relentless and ruthless. It has a trickle-down effect on everybody.
SP: Let’s talk about electronic signage in retail. Do you see it as a threat, an opportunity, or something that is developing on a parallel track of its own?
Pratt: All of the above. I think it’s a natural extension of what we do. We have done some interactive things in store using touch pads, which by the way has worked. The results have been dramatically increased sales for the customer. We’re trying to figure out how to take advantage of that trend.
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