Western Europe Hardcopy Shipments Decline, but Revenues More Stable

According to research conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market decreased by 6.7 percent in unit terms in third-quarter 2018 compared with the same period a year ago. This was lower than expectations, as the inkjet markets declined in most areas. On a more positive note the market values declined at a much lower rate of 2.1 percent as the market continued to transition to higher-speed devices and color A3 devices.

Note that in its research, IDC tracks A2–A4 devices. Hardcopy peripherals include single-function printers, printer-based multifunctional systems (MFPs), and single-function digital copiers (SFDCs).

Laser Segment

Laser markets performed better than expected, declining by only 1.2 percent. Color and monochrome remained relatively stable, with color shipments showing a marginal increase and monochrome shipments only showing a small decline in terms of units with a slight increase in the value of the monochrome market. The market did, however, see the continued decline of single-function printers and an increase in MFP products, notably monochrome devices.

Inkjet Segment

The inkjet markets suffered the most in terms of unit growth with third-quarter shipments registering a 9.0 percent decline even though revenues declined at a slower rate. Most inkjet OEMs are showing lower sales of inkjet devices as fewer home users have a need for printer devices, as they are printing less, but business inkjets also slipped in third-quarter 2018. The business inkjet market is showing signs of transition as higher-priced and higher-specification devices are shipping in place of entry-level models; as a result the values for business inkjets increased. It must be noted that business inkjets grew strongly.

The overall production markets saw a small decline, but as with office devices there was an increase in color laser shipments and a decline in monochrome. There was also an increase in labels and packaging models that shipped.

“The HCP market will show an overall decline in 2018 as the market transitions away from the printed page to the digital page, but the Western Europe market remains a sizeable opportunity for many,” commented Phil Sargeant, program director in IDC’s Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions group. “Print remains an important attribute for many companies and it’s clear that there are many transitions and opportunities that remain in areas such as color, ink, and even monochrome. Those suppliers utilizing their IT services, security, and environmental policies are seeing some success as a result.”

Main Highlights

  • The overall Western European hardcopy market contracted by 6.7 percent year-over-year in third-quarter 2018, recording a shipment figure of 4.8 million units.
  • The main area of growth was in A3 business inkjets, an area that many OEMs are now beginning to focus more on.
  • In the laser markets overall color showed slight growth and though monochrome overall declined there was strong demand for A4 MFP products.
  • 85 percent of all hardcopy shipments are now MFPs, an increase from the same period a year ago and from the previous quarter of  second-quarter 2018.

Main Country Highlights

The combined big-three markets of Germany, France, and the U.K. reflected the overall market decline, but there were some differences among the countries.


The largest market in Western Europe declined by 5.6 percent in third-quarter 2018. The market amounted to 1.2 million units and generally the shipments were in line with the European averages. Both ink and laser markets contracted and the only real area of growth was from the consumer inkjet market, which showed marginal growth. Color printer markets increased slightly and in the production sphere there were increases in the amount of hardcopy shipments that were installed.


Shipments in third-quarter 2018 showed a strong decline of 15.2 percent. The shipment figure of 878,000 meant that for the quarter the French market fell below the level of the U.K., but it should be noted that France had a particularly strong market in second-quarter 2018. As most segments declined there were few areas of growth, though there was double-digit growth in the A4 color MFP market.

The U.K.

Overall shipments declined by 1.4 percent in third-quarter 2018 as the U.K. market recorded a higher figure than France of 894,000 units. The U.K. market performed better than most other countries and saw some strong growth in the laser markets where both color and monochrome shipments increased in third-quarter 2018. Inkjet shipments declined and as with the major trends the consumer markets contracted but business inkjets showed double-digit growth.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker in EMEA,  contact IDC’s Phil Sargeant at psargeant@idc.com.

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