Exhibitors largely happy

Drupa numbers revealed

170,000 trade visitors walked the halls at Messe Düsseldorf
170,000 trade visitors walked the halls at Messe Düsseldorf

Messe Düsseldorf has revealed that Drupa attracted 170,000 trade visitors to the 2024 event that closed its doors on Friday (7 June) after an 11-day run.

While this figure is down nearly 35%, or more than 90,000 visitors, on the Drupa 2016 figure of 260,165, and below pre-show hopes of hitting the 200,000 mark, many exhibitors have been very positive about the quality of attendees and the amount of business done at the show, not least due to the consolidation and changes seen in the industry since the 2016 event.

Messe Düsseldorf said that, in the end, 1,643 exhibitors from 52 nations attended the event. The international share of the visitors was 80%, with attendees coming from 174 countries – a record figure.

After Europe, Asia was the most strongly represented region, with 22%, followed by America, with 12%.

According to Messe Düsseldorf, major exhibitors including Bobst, Canon, Fujifilm, Heidelberg, HP, Horizon, Koenig & Bauer, Komori, Konica Minolta, Kurz, and Landa, reported having signed contracts that significantly exceeded their expectations.

Erhard Wienkamp, managing director at Messe Düsseldorf, commented: “Drupa has underpinned its position as the industry’s leading trade fair and its unique appeal in a remarkable way.

“The impressive international flair and, above all, the high decision-making competence of the visitors ensured in-depth and well-founded technical discussions at the trade fair stands on the one hand and many direct investment decisions on the other. Our exhibitors told us about large-volume purchase agreements.”

Messe Düsseldorf said that around 96% of all visitors confirmed that they had fully achieved the objectives associated with their visit. At over 50%, most of them came from the printing industry, followed by the packaging industry, whose share has increased significantly, and which was the focus of many exhibitors as a growth driver.

Trends included automation, with a strong focus on AI and smart workflows – including software, as well as robotics, and sustainability.

“At Drupa 2024, we experienced first-hand just how relevant and resilient this industry is,” said Sabine Geldermann, director of Drupa and Portfolio Print Technologies.

“The community is determined to set the course for the future together. Exchanging ideas with people from all continents and from all areas of the industry was extremely enriching and inspiring. We were able to welcome around 50 large delegations from various nations, and numerous globally active associations and organisations chose Drupa as the ideal setting for their conferences and board meetings.”

A raft of industry figures responded to Printweek contributing editor Jo Francis’ LinkedIn post about the visitor numbers.

Printweek contributor Simon Eccles said: “Numbers being down was probably inevitable, with some people questioning whether a big show is still needed. Maybe too, because of the eight-year gap, some newcomers to the industry did not realise what Drupa is, and so stayed away. Others may have been put off by the expense, as I nearly was.”

Greg Bird, managing director at Kolbus UK, added: “The true effect of this Drupa on business will take several months to work through. Although numbers [were] down, quality of visitors was good and I feel it showed that a global show is needed, although in tandem with online or open house innovation launches that have found a place over the last few years. Drupa must evolve to fit in our new world, but it must survive.”

Several printers also commented. Steve Baker, managing director at Baker Labels, said: “I was very sceptical pre-show and only decided to go after it had started as I thought it would be good experience for the boys [his sons Tom and Harry Baker also work at the business] but what a show!

“I agree with the comments that it could be a bit more compact but the buzz, positivity and understanding of the scale and diversification of this great ‘print’ industry certainly made the visit worthwhile. It’s like everything in life, you get the experience you expect – go positive and open minded and you’ll have a great show! – the boys and I certainly did!”

Del Simmons, managing director at Dayfold, which signed for HP’s new Indigo 18K Digital Press at the show, added: “In what has been the hardest four years I’ve ever seen in our industry I was amazed just how much positivity was around.

“For our business it’s a tale of huge diversification and evolution and we have not stopped that process since Covid. To hear so many similar stories and like-minded professionals was a huge boost to me personally. I have numerous visits booked to see new friends in the industry, to see their businesses and learn more. That for me was success in itself! A new shiny machine offering huge potential was the icing on the cake.”

The next Drupa event will be held in 2028, although dates have not yet been confirmed.

The June/July issue of Printweek will feature briefings and features looking at the highlights and trends seen in Düsseldorf.