Fespa speaks out on coronavirus situation

Felton: committed to safeguarding the health of exhibitors, visitors and contractors
Felton: committed to safeguarding the health of exhibitors, visitors and contractors

Fespa is “actively monitoring all developments” related to the coronavirus outbreak, with just over five weeks to go until this year’s show in Madrid.

Yesterday, the organisers of the Mobile World Congress expo cancelled the event after a raft of major exhibitors pulled out due to concerns about the coronavirus situation.

It had been due to take place in Barcelona at the end of this month.

The virus has now been officially named COVID-19. Yesterday Chinese authorities in Hubei issued new figures using a broader definition of diagnosis. This resulted in a sharp spike in reported cases and 242 deaths – the most since the start of the outbreak. 

Fespa Global Print Expo runs from 24-27 March in Madrid. The show is usually held in Germany but switches to a different European country in a Drupa year. 

In a statement issued today (13 February), Fespa chief executive Neil Felton said Fespa would take place as scheduled.

He said: “Fespa is committed to safeguarding the health of all exhibitors, visitors and contractors at Fespa events to the best of its capabilities.

“As such, the Fespa board and senior management team is actively monitoring all developments relating to COVID-19.

“Fespa is currently reviewing a number of proactive options with a view to minimising the risks to all participants at the event.”

Fespa said a further statement would be issued in due course.

The show is co-located with sister exhibitions European Sign Expo 2020 and Sportswear Pro 2020. It includes a raft of Chinese exhibitors including gold partner Hanglory Group.

The giant Interpack and Drupa trade fairs scheduled to take place at Messe Dusseldorf in May and June also have a substantial number of Chinese exhibitors and attract a large number of international visitors.

At Drupa, China accounts for the second-largest number of exhibitors with 349, behind Germany with 438. At the last Drupa in 2016 3% of visitors came from China.

Interpack has 299 Chinese exhibitors, behind Germany (584) and Italy (409).

Messe Dusseldorf issued the following statement to Printweek: "Safety for all employees, customers and guests is a top priority for Messe Düsseldorf. This also applies to the current coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which is currently spreading worldwide. According to the WHO, the Robert Koch Institute and the German authorities, the risk of infection with this new pathogen in Germany is currently very low.

"Messe Düsseldorf is closely monitoring current developments and is in direct contact with the health authorities. The medical facilities at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre have the latest information at all times and are well prepared. There are clearly defined procedures for looking after anyone on the premises of the exhibition centre who suddenly develops symptoms of a serious disease. These procedures were developed and tested at the time of SARS, the Influenza A (H1N1) virus and also EHEC.

"As a precautionary measure, additional hand disinfection stations are set up and the cleaning intervals for contact surfaces are increased. Close contact between all the relevant stakeholders ensures that new findings are shared, that information is provided and that available procedures for the trade fair grounds are modified to suit a given situation."

Separately, ink maker Flint Group has warned about potential disruption and delays to supplies in its Commercial, Publication & Sheetfed business (CPS Inks) because of COVID-19.

Chief procurement officer and senior vice president of sales Michael Podd said Flint leadership had set up an emergency management team to monitor the situation.

"Our procurement and supply chain teams continue to prepare contingency plans where possible to mitigate any potential supply chain issues or delays. Despite the best contingency plans we expect to see material delays as a result of manufacturing and freight disruptions within China, and potentially the effect of additional precautions being taken at local borders to ensure product is safe to bring into the country,” he stated.

"At this point, CPS has sufficient inventory to support supply through the announced extended closure period. If the closure extends beyond this, we already have substantial stock on the water inbound. In the event this is insufficient we can, subject to the Chinese authorities, expedite material freight, and will be fully transparent with our customers on any additional cost.”

He said that existing customers – particularly those with long-term contracts – would be prioritised.

Fellow inkmaker Sun Chemical has also announced that it is taking steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.