Fespa’s 2012 Global Print Expo took place in Barcelona in February that year, attracting around 12,000 unique visitors, while the March 2016 event in Amsterdam boasted 16,000 visitors.
While numbers for the German shows are typically higher, standing at around the 20,000 mark for the past three years, including the Munich outing earlier this year, they have been creeping up for shows held outside the country and organisers are confident of hitting the 18,000 mark in 2020, where the event will take place at IFEMA, Feria de Madrid from 24-27 March.
“We’ve seen a seismic shift with regard to where we’re moving the show,” Fespa chief executive Neil Felton told Printweek at the Fespa Fest show preview event held in Madrid last month.
He said the decision to return to the Spanish capital, where the show was last held in 2002, was made following an extensive research period.
“We spoke to our exhibitors and visitors, our partner committee, our board and our associations and Madrid came up in the top two with pretty much every stakeholder we spoke to – it was very popular.”
Understandably, the show is largely expected to attract visitors from a different geographical spread to the German shows. Felton expects attendance from Spain, Portugal, Italy and France to be strong, as well as “an uplift from Latin America”.
He added the event will finish an hour later than usual – at 7pm – for its first three days to reflect the way that other local events are run, rather than being a wholesale change that will be replicated in future shows.
“This is very much country specific. Having spoken to many exhibitors and the country manager that we have [for Spain], pretty much all shows finish at 7pm. We need to make sure we adapt to this.”
As of early November, Felton said exhibitor numbers were around the 350 mark, including more than 50 new faces, and this is without taking into account the additional companies exhibiting at the co-located European Sign Expo event for non-printed signage and the new Sportswear Pro 2020 event, which is dedicated exclusively to sportswear manufacturing.
With only so much budget at their disposal, some of the manufacturers exhibiting at both Fespa and Drupa next year may end up having to scale down the scope of their presence at one, or both.
But more than 100 new products are nevertheless expected to be launched in Madrid and Felton stressed that the two events are very different beasts.
“We are the show for the speciality print market; there’s no other show that provides what we provide and we have to focus on what we do really well.
“In previous Drupa years we had Barcelona in 2012 and Amsterdam in 2016 and went from 12,000 visitors to 16,000, and now [expecting] 18,000 shows that our market needs a bespoke show.”
He added: “We’ve had such demand that we’ve had to add two more halls [to the original three].
“I think we’ll fill the space; most of the massive stands are now in and it’s largely about making sure that we perfect the floorplan.”
While the vast majority of exhibitors have not yet disclosed their own plans for Fespa, show organisers have confirmed a number of popular features that will be returning, including the World Wrap Masters vehicle wrapping competition, the Printeriors showcase for interior and exterior decor, and the Fespa Awards, which will feature four new categories.
Following a successful debut in Munich, the Colour, L*A*B* colour management feature will also return in Madrid.
“A lot of the smaller printers in our community aren’t as au fait with colour management as some of the larger offset commercial printers, and I think that as they start dealing more with brands, and their customers become more demanding, then colour management becomes more key,” said Felton.
And with “double-digit growth in most textile markets, particularly short run”, according to Felton, it is unsurprising that a number of show features in Madrid will reflect this trend.
The Print Make Wear fast fashion factory will return and, linked to the new Sportswear Pro event, will recreate the live end-to-end production process for sports and athleisure garments.
Sportswear Pro 2020 exhibition manager Michael Ryan said that, until now, there has been no event dedicated to the fast growing sportswear manufacturing industry, together with print.
“As we saw in the figures from the Fespa Census, 83% of our textile audience at Fespa was involved in printing in the top market segment, which is sportswear. It’s a dominant industry which has growth of 6%-7% per annum.”
Felton said Fespa saw the fastest rebook in its history in Munich “and now it’s beholden on us to ensure that we deliver the visitors and the experience that people expect from us”.
“We always look at what we’ve done wrong or try and do it better. We invest a vast amount of money on content, because we want to try and educate our visitors and our community based on what the opportunities are.”
He concluded: “The number one thing is that we’re a community-led exhibition, so therefore rather than being outside and trying to make money from it, we’re inside it and are reinvesting money back into the industry.
“And we’ve got a very passionate team who are always looking to refresh – we are continually trying to make sure the show is better and better.”