Less than eight months had passed since Fespa Global Print Expo 2021 was held in Amsterdam, but the appetite for a quick turnaround was strong on what turned out to be a triumphant return to Messe Berlin from 31 May to 3 June.
The show had last taken place in the German capital in 2018, but the world has changed immeasurably since then and while Fespa and the co-located European Sign Expo’s 11,647 unique visitors was significantly down on the previous Berlin outing and the last pre-pandemic show, in Munich in 2019, the number represented a 48% increase on the Amsterdam event.
With repeat visits added to the total, the number rose to 15,969, and this was against a backdrop of scores of flight delays and cancellations across Europe, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee four-day weekend in the UK, and various ongoing Covid restrictions on travel in some areas that meant that the majority of Chinese xhibitors – which usually make up a significant part of the floorplan – were absent.
Nevertheless, with 375 exhibitors in Berlin, including most of the major wide-format players, there was still plenty to see, and with no Covid testing requirements or checks required to enter the show, things felt about as normal as they could in this day and age.
New features such as the Sustainability Spotlight conference and the Associations Pavilion, and returning attractions including Printeriors and World Wrap Masters, proved popular. but the main buzz was seen around the 22,000sqm space of the show’s eight halls, where visitors were keen to network and have serious business and investment conversations.
This was music to the ears of exhibitors, many of whom commented on the energy they felt at the show, which ran with the strapline ‘experience print in motion’.
Agfa global press and PR manager Mike Horsten said that compared to Amsterdam, this show was “the normal Fespa”.
“This brings customers willing to look for new kit and applications and looking for the next step. We at Agfa are very excited about coming back to reality and normality.”
Mimaki Europe product manager Mark Sollman said that “from a lead-making perspective, it’s been very good”, while Kevin Jenner, European marketing manager at Fujifilm Wide Format Inkjet Systems, added: “It’s been brilliant. It’s exceeded our expectations.” The business also received a “very positive reaction” to its new “Blueprint” concept, Jenner added.
Bobby Grauf, managing director of Europe for Inkcups commented: “You never get to see so many like-minded people in one place at the same time than at Fespa” – a sentiment that was shared by Elitron events and marketing specialist Claudia Marcantoni.
“Fespa is a good place to show your new technologies because people from all over the world come here. Every time we come, we go back to Italy with interesting contacts and new opportunities,” she said.
Despite numbers being down, exhibitors were largely pleased with the quality of the people coming to their stands.
Mark Tinkler, head of product marketing at Epson Europe, said: “Every day it’s been busy. We’ve had some really good quality visitors looking at all the new equipment we’re showing and make buying decisions, which is important for us when we come to a show like this.
“What’s clear is that as we emerge from the pandemic, there’s a clear appetite to actually get to see products in action, to touch and feel the results, which means events and activities like this obviously have a place, and that’s something that’s important to us.”
Sustainability and automation were understandably the major focuses on many stands, although other recurrent themes included collaboration and partnership, reshoring, textiles printing – particularly the direct-to-film process, and industrial printing – with many exhibitors printing live onto objects. The rising popularity of personalised goods links many of these areas.
Paul Willems, Roland DG head of business development and product management, EMEA, said: “You can buy a simple object like a phone case for €1 [86p], put an image on it and sell it for €25 – that’s the level of added value you create, and that’s for a simple, cheap product. And we can go all the way to customising electronic goods – a PlayStation or an espresso machine – to bigger objects like bicycles.
“This is good for the retailers and also good for our customers because it’s not a cut-throat type of business, but about who has the capability to deliver this added value.”
On the automation trend, Adrian Zesiger, eProductivity Software (ePS) EMEA sales director, said: “Particularly, we are seeing increasing software and technical skills being employed in print companies. The challenge for the printer has been that the industry is not a cookie-cutter affair, so the challenge to bring in automation while allowing for products to remain bespoke and flexible affects the forward-thinking printers the most.”
He added that ePS is constantly asked how it can help printers reduce their number of touchpoints and, therefore, potential errors within a workflow.
“Printers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce the burden on their teams and to be innovative with technology to help process things automatically. In the past, this might have been purely driving print engines or automating orders from a webshop, but it can now cover all areas from customer touchpoints through to invoicing and paying bills.”
With visitors coming to Fespa 2022 from 126 countries, and more than 60% having final purchasing authority or influence, the pent-up demand created by the pandemic to network, learn, test new kit and – ultimately – invest to move business forward was clearly satisfied, and attention now turns to next year.
Announced during the Berlin event, Fespa Global Print Expo 2023 and European Sign Expo 2023 will be held from 23-26 May at Messe Munich, Germany, with a planned increase in space to around 32,000sqm across six halls.
- Fespa Global Print Expo and the co-located European Sign Expo’s 11,647 unique visitors was
significantly down on the previous Berlin outing and the last pre-pandemic show, in Munich in 2019, but the number represented a 48% increase on the 2021 Amsterdam event
- New features and returning attractions proved popular, but the main buzz was seen around the show’s eight halls, where visitors were keen to network and have serious business and investment conversations
- Sustainability and automation were the major focuses on many stands, although other recurrent themes included collaboration and partnership, reshoring, textiles printing – particularly the direct-to-film process – and industrial printing
- With visitors coming to Fespa from 126 countries, and more than 60% having final purchasing authority or influence, the pent-up demand created by the pandemic to network, learn, test new kit and invest to move business forward was clearly satisfied
What did you think of this year’s show?
Managing director, FaberExposize UK and Northern Flags
“It was great to see the show back across more halls than Amsterdam and all the big printer manufacturers were there, so it was a good opportunity to get an initial deep look at them and compare them. It was a great networking opportunity; I spoke to so many people who I just bumped into in the aisles and know from before, which is important as well. Every substrate that was there was all about green and all the environmental stuff.”
Managing director, RMC Digital Print
“I really enjoyed the show and made some great new connections on the Club Fespa stand. We all talked print and got some new ideas from other printers from all over the world. Although some of our team had already been over to demo the EFI Vutek Q5, it was the first time I had seen it – albeit the smaller version. It’s an impressive piece of kit with some interesting new features and one we hope to invest in sometime soon.”
Co-founder and managing director, Augustus Martin; Fespa board member and print ambassador
“There was lots to see. I changed my ideas because there were so many new things – there’s a lot to think about. We have to re-evaluate what we were thinking of doing and change because of what’s now available. The takeover of Inca by Agfa is fantastic news. Inca has been standing still for a couple of years – this will put a lot of impetus behind them.”
Back to the Fespa of old
Head of Global Print Expo, Fespa
We successfully put on an event in Amsterdam last year, but it was great to be back to the Fespa of old in Berlin.
e’ve all been living in this world for the past two years of virtual events, but you can’t beat the real thing. People said to me on-site that it was great to see people face-to-face and somebody said to me “Fespa feels like home” because they know what they expect from Fespa, and we delivered. The industry supported the event; the majority of the manufacturers were there, and it was just really good for people to connect.
We changed the floorplan compared to 2019 to make it easier for people to navigate and it was so successful, so I’m pleased with all the decisions we made in planning the event and making the experience incredible.
The feedback from all the major manufacturers was very positive – they were happy with the audience and I heard a lot about quality. For this campaign, we really focused on increasing the quality of the audience at Fespa and that was delivered across the portfolio of speciality printing that you could see there.
The colour of most stands was green this year, with everybody launching their sustainable products, which are essential right now for the industry. Another trend was automation; we’re seeing more and more of that complete workflow, not just from the manufacturers but from printers looking at how they can speed up their production.
Berlin is such a creative city, it’s a capital city and it has so much history, and the shows that we have organised here have been successful. Munich next year is also looking incredible – it will be the sixth time that we’ve been in Munch and it’s again a venue that works incredibly well for Fespa events. It’s great to see that everybody has the confidence in live events again.