Printer and MFP Shipments Down Again in Western Europe

According to research conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market decreased by 6.9 percent in unit terms in fourth-quarter 2018  compared with the same period a year ago. This is in line with the previous quarter and contributed to the 2018 overall Western Europe market contracting by 5.3 percent. This equated to a decline of over 1 million units to create a market of below 20 million units. According to IDC, a “negative trend can be clearly seen, and it will continue over IDC’s forecast period.”

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

In fourth-quarter 2018, the inkjet markets suffered the most, despite the Christmas period, as shipments declined by 8.8 percent, and most of this decline was in consumer inkjets as the home print market continues to change. Business inkjets did dip in fourth-quarter 2018 , but not all OEMs suffered, as some had positive growth. The value for the business-inkjet market was positive as more A3 devices shipped, but the overall 2018 shipment figure for inkjet devices was negative.

Laser shipments were flat in fourth-quarter 2018, but value suffered as there was a skew towards lower speed monochrome devices, which naturally carry lower average sales prices (ASPs). Monochrome markets increased by 1.7 percent due to high A4 shipments, but lower than expected A4 color printer sales meant that the overall color market declined 4.8 percent. Values for both laser markets also fell. A relatively poor end to the year meant that 2018 laser markets did decline, but there was growth in some areas.

The niche market of serial impact dot matrix (SDM) also declined in  fourth-quarter 2018 and 2018. This technology has been declining for many years but is still profitable for those remaining within it.

“Contraction in the hardcopy markets is clearly in evidence as many organizations transition parts of their business processes away from paper to digital,” said Phil Sargeant, program director in IDC’s Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions group. “The printed page will remain a vital communication tool for most organizations across the vertical spectrum, however, as not all processes are ready for digitization. Proof points for this simply include the number of laser and business inkjets that still ship in their millions every quarter.”

Main highlights:

• The overall Western European hardcopy market contracted 6.9 percent year-over-year in fourth-quarter 2018, recording a shipment figure of 4.8 million units. The overall 2018 market declined 5.3 percent.

• The main area of growth was the A3 inkjet market, which comprises desktop and standalone devices; both increased in fourth-quarter 2018. They also increased for 2018 as a whole.

• Another area of growth was seen in A4 monochrome laser printers and MFPs in fourth-quarter 2018. , but annual 2018 market growth was negative.

• Color laser markets also suffered during fourth-quarter 2018.and 2018, due largely to the decline of printers.

Main Country Highlights

According to IDC, growth patterns across Western European countries varied greatly in fourth-quarter 2018, as some of the larger countries declined, but smaller ones increased. The main country highlights are as below:


The largest market in Western Europe declined 4.1 percent in fourth-quarter 2018.. The market amounted to 1.37 million units, and generally market shipments were in line with European averages. The German market for the whole of 2018 was also negative, declining 7.4 percent.


Shipments in 4Q18 showed a decline of 9.5% in 4Q18, with a shipment figure of 1.02 million, and this decline therefore contributed to the overall 2018 market falling 7.1%.

The U.K.

Overall shipments declined 7.0 percent in fourth-quarter 2018, which is again in line with Western European averages. The U.K. did perform relatively well during the start of 2018, and this meant the U.K. market contracted by 3.7 percent in 2018.


Italy was one of the brighter markets in 2018, and although it was flat in fourth-quarter 2018, its overall 2018 growth was 3.0 percent as many OEMs saw their Italian shipments increase.


Although shipments for Spain declined in fourth-quarter 2018, its performance was better than most countries. Its fourth-quarter 2018. growth figure showed a decline of 1.6 percent, but overall the 2018 Spain figure showed a decline of 4.5 percent.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker in EMEA, please contact Phil Sargeant (

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