Blow for Drupa as two large exhibitors cancel

Drupa 2021: new date in place, but Covid-19 situation still uncertain
Drupa 2021: new date in place, but Covid-19 situation still uncertain

Two large exhibitors have cancelled their plans to exhibit at next year’s Drupa show, as manufacturers reassess sales strategies while the world continues to wrangle with the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Xerox and Bobst have both confirmed they will no longer exhibit at the industry’s flagship event.

Bobst had a substantial presence in Hall 10. Xerox accounted for about a quarter of the space in Hall 8b where it had been due to exhibit alongside erstwhile partner Fujifilm.

The Fuji-Xerox joint venture will expire at the end of March 2021, just prior to Drupa’s new dates of 20-30 April.

The giant Interpack show, which includes some exhibitors that also exhibit at Drupa, is scheduled for 25 February-3 March.

In a statement, Xerox said: “The Drupa 2020 trade fair was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new event scheduled for next April. Given continued uncertainty around holding large events during a pandemic and our own schedule for product introductions, Xerox has decided not to participate in the Drupa 2021 trade fair.”

Separately, Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, as part of a new strategy that would also reduce its environmental impact.

The Swiss manufacturer said that it had invested heavily in its ‘Competence Centers’, which would be evolved “to the next level”.

“We have started to virtualise the customer experience with live streaming demonstrations – across all equipment in our existing Competence Centers providing an engaging customer experience with less traveling constraints. There will be further information on these new ways of engagement soon,” Bobst stated.

“Bobst is reducing its presence at industry tradeshows and thereby dramatically reducing the environmental impact. As a result, we have decided not to attend drupa and other industry tradeshows in 2021, while maintaining a limited participation in Asia.”

Bobst said it would provide more information about its plans for new ways of engaging with customers “soon”.

Drupa organiser Messe Dusseldorf had not commented at the time of writing.

With a raft of expos postponed or awaiting fresh dates, the first upcoming show on the Messe’s calendar at the moment is Caravan Salon, billed as the world’s largest trade fair for motorhomes. This is set to take place from 4-13 September.

In its most recent update for exhibitors and visitors, the Messe said it was working with all relevant authorities on plans for how trade shows can operate in a time of Covid-19, and said the health of customers, guests and employees was “always our top priority”.

It said: “Following the agreement of the Federal Government and the States on 15 April 2020 to prohibit major events in principle until 31 August 2020, we must await concrete regulations from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Dusseldorf and, if necessary, new decisions from the Federal Government and the States. We are in direct contact with the authorities for this purpose.

“At the same time, we as a trade fair company must ensure that the high safety and hygiene standards already in place at the Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre are continuously adapted to the latest findings. A corresponding concept is currently being planned in cooperation with the authorities, associations and partners for all upcoming events.”

Earlier this month AUMA, the association of the German trade fair industry, welcomed the agreement between the the country’s government and its federal states that trade fairs were no longer considered part of the “major events” category that is banned until the end of August.  

AUMA said that was “an important step in the direction of restarting the trade fair industry, because trade fairs will provide important stimuli in the short and medium term as innovation and cooperation platforms for the recovery of the German economy”.

Germany’s 16 federal states are now controlling the lifting of lockdown measures, with the caveat that a surge in Covid-19 infections in a particular area could result in emergency measures to curb any further spread.

At the last Drupa in 2016, there were 260,165 visitors with 68% coming from Europe, 19% from Asia and 9% from America.

On the current exhibitor list for Drupa 2021, the top two exhibiting countries are Germany with 438 companies and China with 348 exhibitors.