Do trade shows reflect market reality?

imagePredictably, Informa, the company that owns Ipex, has claimed the show as a success calling it a foundation for future events. Equally predictably, Trevor Crawford, the man with overall responsibility for Ipex has parted company with Informa directly after the show with immediate effect.
Personally I can’t see another Ipex event ever taking place. The show suffered badly from losing most of the major printer vendors, and many of them were not happy at losing their deposits, and unlikely to pay any money upfront for a future show. Many of the vendors that did exhibit complained about a general lack of visitors, particularly in the afternoons. Several pointed out to me that they felt the show had no focus, compared with, say, Inprint or Interpack and with Fespa having to add extra space and still selling out.
Consider this – Konica Minolta arguably had one of the busiest stands at Ipex and says it will see £3m of revenue as a result. But Heidelberg took £9m of orders at its own event during Ipex week, and didn’t have to cover the cost of a stand at the show, which would have been around £1 – 2 million.
At the same time Print China is bidding to become a major fixture on the graphic arts calendar. The show comes around every two years in one form or another: Print China in Guandong in the south of China in April 2015; China Print in the North in Beijing in 2017. The show is growing, with 140,000 sqm available for 2015 in an exhibition centre that’s been extended with new halls. Of this, 70,000 sqm have already been sold and the show organisers, the Printing Industry Association of China, or PEIAC, are expecting some 180,000 visitors. Guandong itself is well-positioned, being close to Hong Kong and Macau and is a gateway to the whole south East Asian market.
There’s around 100,000 printing companies in China, with some 3.2m working in the printing industry. Lu Changan, Secretary General of the Chinese Printing Industry Association PEIAC (pictured above), says that Chinese printers are keen to invest in new technology, adding: “There’s a huge demand for label and packaging and a lot of printers do like to see new technology and equipment in exhibitions.” He says that packaging printing accounts for around 70 percent of the total print market in China, and that digital printing grew last year by 10.8 percent. He adds: “Also there is an increasing demand for post press equipment because of the rising cost of labour.”
Small wonder then that China is the biggest of the emerging markets and the one that most press vendors are keen to target. But despite the numbers, Print China faces the same basic problem that Ipex now has – to turn a national show into an international success.


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