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UK printers sales decline says Gartner

Paul Kunert

The UK printer market has suffered in the first six months of the year due to the economic downturn with sales falling nearly 8% and many of the major vendors posting significant declines.

According to market data from Gartner, more than 2.5m devices were shipped in the UK, a drop of 7.5% year-on-year, with serial inkjet and laser segments falling 8% and 2% respectively.

Blame for the market performance can be attributed to the current economic climate, said Tosh Prabhakar, senior research analyst at the market watcher, as customers delay unessential purchases.

"The credit crunch that started in the US has spread to Europe, and the threat of recession has hit consumers and businesses," he told Microscope.

Serial inkjet and laser segments account for 88% of all printers, MFPs and copiers sold in the UK, with devices including dot matrix making up the remainder.

During the period, Hewlett-Packard grew 2% to hold 40.9% market share while Epson and Canon posted growth of 19.5% and 47.8% respectively to hold 22% and 13.6% share of UK sales.

But after seeing its fortunes decline in 2007, Lexmark sales plummeted nearly 60% for the six months in 2008 and market share fell from 19.8% to 8.5% year-on-year.

"Lexmark has shot itself in the foot," Prabhakar, "it withdrew from the low-end to focus on the high-end workgroup space but the portfolio is not as extensive as rivals."

Brother UK suffered to a lesser extent but was the other major top five player to see its sales fall 22.5% and market share drop from 5.3% to 4.4%.

Unlike the notebook market where price declines have helped to sustain demand, a 10% decline in printer average sale prices (ASPs) was not enough to whet the appetite of consumers or businesses said Gartner.

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