Exhibitors praise organisers and visitor quality for 2016

Sarah Cosgrove
Monday, March 21, 2016

While it might have only been mentioned in hushed tones in Amsterdam, many exhibitors were a little nervous about the ‘Drupa effect’ on this year’s Fespa Digital, falling as it does in the same year as the behemoth print event.

But by the final hours of the four-day show, held at the RAI from 8-11 March, exhibitors were, by and large, smiling.

“My colleague said it was like at the [opening day of the] sales on Tuesday morning, people had been queuing outside. We weren’t expecting that because you’ve got other shows like Drupa,” said HP channel business manager, large-format production products Jane Rixon.

This was echoed by Avery Dennison senior business director graphics solutions Europe, Shaun Hobson: “It’s been absolutely fantastic, honestly. We’ve had the most amount of leads at the exhibition that we’ve had in several years. It’s been energising. We’ve had all sorts of people, interior designers interested in pressure-sensitive materials, coach-wrapping companies – the energy has been incredible.” 

Neschen, one of the companies launching PVC-free substrates at the show agreed.

“It was perfect, Tuesday and Wednesday was the best we had in any Fespa, a lot of the new prospects we’ve never seen before,” said head of corporate marketing Lars Woltermann.

“I had three interior designers on the booth, that was really good for us. They were all interested in finding sustainable ranges. One visited Fespa just for that.” 

By the time the doors had closed more than 16,000 unique visitors had attended the event, 16,309 to be precise, smashing the 12,178 total for the last Fespa Digital held in March, Barcelona 2012. Although, admittedly, just shy of the record-breaking 16,851 total of the May 2014 event in Munich.

“We’ve exceeded expectations,” Fespa group marketing manager Lorraine Harrow said. “We sold out a good while before the event.”

Almost all exhibitors praised the quality of visitors that Fespa attracts.

Epson Europe senior product manager Richard Barrow said: “The conversations that we have are always worthwhile, fruitful and of benefit to both parties. There’s not another show on the calendar that allows us to do that.”

Screen European product manager wide-format Martin van den Broek agreed. “If you go to an Ipex or a Drupa, a lot of people are time wasters, asking a lot of questions, you don’t have that here because people know the technology,” he said. “The visitors are people looking to invest now or in the future.”

Canon sold “something like 15” machines according to Canon Europe marketing director Pierre-Olivier Esteban, more than Cologne.

“We were anxious as in the past it was so successful, and what about  the influence of Drupa? That was a big question mark, but it’s been excellent for us, the number and quality of visitors.”

The company with the most launches, six in fact, EFI, was also pleased, according to vice-president marketing Ken Hanulec: “Overall the show was phenomenal, we’ve seen customers from all over the world. Obviously Drupa is a concern, a Drupa year is always a bit of a challenge to stretch all the money. We took a gamble with coming with a number of different printers and the people that we did but it obviously paid off. Drupa will be a great show for us as well.”

HP had sold its eight display machines by the end of day three and more said Rixon, although she added that HP did not go in for show discounting. “From the UK side, we want a predictable, measured business. It’s worth what it’s worth.”

Mimaki on the other hand was keen to pitch the lower price point of its new 3.2m-wide UJV55-320 launched at the show as half the price of competitor machines.

Jumbo orders

EMEA general manager of mark-eting Mike Horsten said they had sold so well, with more than 30 signed for, that existing European stocks were drained and Mimaki was planning to fly more over from Japan in jumbo jets. 

“I think this will end up being the best ever Fespa Digital for Mimaki.”

Katz, Polyprint, Azonprinter and GLM Digital Technology were among those who said they expanded their distributor network at Fespa Digital, while new exhibitors included AT Graphix, CWT, Ex-Cel Plastics, Impronta Gadget System, Lüscher Tschudi and Ricoh.

First timer Elkotb Textiles, an Egyptian manufacturer in business for more than 40 years, launched into Europe via the show, while ATS Colore Digitale showed its i-mark automatic digital die-cutter for the first time outside Italy, eliciting “strong interest” director Paolo Mazzolin said.

Another Fespa debutant, Chinese inkjet canvas and fabric media company Holacolor Technology, was a great success, according to manager Eric Liao.

Not everyone was quite as upbeat though. Kiian sales director Alessandra Borghi said she felt that Fespa’s growing international footprint was perhaps having a negative impact on the international visitors attending the main European events.

“We have no French, no Chinese, almost no South American and fewer Indian people this time,” she said.

So the fact that Fespa is looking to continue its global expansion, with a 2017 debut in Bangkok, Thailand, aimed at the burgeoning South East Asia region, might not be welcomed by all.

But the model of smaller, feeder shows for the Europe based main events seems to work and Fespa clearly has no plans to ditch a successful formula.

But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating when the show returns to Hamburg, Germany for the Global Expo next May – with the organiser no doubt already setting its sights on 2015’s 770 exhibitor and 23,137 visitors tally.

And if it continues its growth trajectory, the day may just be coming when Drupa’s wide-format exhibitors start whispering about the ‘Fespa effect’.


OPINION

Enthusiasm and vibrancy in the halls a signal of success

neil-felton-fespaNeil Felton, chief executive, Fespa

Isn’t it a fitting legacy to remember our 10th anniversary show as our largest digital event to date? The vibrancy of the halls and enthusiasm from both visitors and exhibitors alike made it a true celebration of the power of print.

Initial numbers indicate that the show attracted an increase of 34% in unique visitors compared with Fespa Digital in Barcelona, the last time a Digital show took place in March. More than half of these also returned for a second visit, which highlights just how many exciting new products and technologies there were to see. 

From the 450 exhibitors who participated, I was delighted that so many chose to use our show to launch their latest products and technologies, and by the sheer volume of sales made onsite. For me, this demonstrates the value exhibitors place in Fespa as a launch platform, while also highlighting that it attracts senior decision-makers who are actively involved in the buying process.

Visitors really took advantage of the fact they could explore four events in one location, looking at the diversity of options available to them to realise their potential to become a print superhero! They were able to participate in seminar sessions, live demonstrations, thrilling competitions and interactive workshops all on the show floor and at any one time when I was walking past, these different areas were buzzing with conversation.

Feedback from exhibitors, visitors and speakers alike has been that the 2016 show was an extremely successful one. And, as our Printeriors showcase starts to evolve and attract a larger audience from the design community, we are committed to growing the awareness of the possibilities of digital print in this sector going forward. 

Now as we draw a line under our 10th anniversary, my lasting memory of Fespa Digital 2016 will be of the celebration of print and how our visitor base has embraced their new super powers.


READER REACTION

What did you get out of your visit to Fespa Digital 2016?

peter-gunning-grafeniaPeter Gunning, chief executive, Grafenia

“Last year we invested in D.gen direct-to-fabric printing and all the associated finishing. Our Nettl, printing.com and Marqetspace partners have been going great guns selling expo display stands with the stretched ‘duvet cover’ graphics. Clients are loving them. We wanted to extend the range of stuff we do, particularly into furnishings and permanent displays. We were particularly impressed by the new LED and lightbox technology we saw. We’ll now be racing to get demo stands into the hands of our partners so they can use them to wow their clients.”

ben-manning-rapidityBen Manning, production director, Rapidity

“I tend to find traditional print exhibitions such as Ipex and Drupa rather boring: too big, too busy and full of machinery we see every day. Fespa is far more exciting as large-format print is only a small, but growing part of what we do. It offers us the opportunity to see lots of new and exciting machinery, materials and finishes. It’s a much more creative environment where we are able to learn about different techniques and processes in a less pressurised environment. I’ve always been interested in cars and wrapping so the Wrap Masters event was a highlight for me!”

alex-evans-precisionAlex Evans, managing director, Precision Colour Printing

“Our core business is publication printing, but there are potential opportunities in large-format for us to expand and support our existing client base and also offer services to new customers. There is just so much variety in terms of the different substrates you can print onto, and so many possible applications. It’s something we need to look at and the purpose of our visit was to see what’s out there, and see how inkjet is coming on. There are so many different suppliers in that part of the market, it really did surprise me. I learnt a lot from the trip.”

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