Taking place yesterday (29 November) at the Leonardo Hotel and Conference Centre – Hinckley Island in Hinckley, south-west Leicestershire, the trade association’s Expo and Business Networking Hub ran for four hours and included a networking lunch.
The event also featured an address from IPIA chair Charles Rogers, who touched on the association’s work this year, including its engagement with government, and also laid out its future plans.
“Being a member of, or a guest at, an IPIA event, we collectively strengthen and support our industry, which is inspiring in itself. And rest assured, the IPIA intends to continue working hard to educate and inspire print buying markets through our magazine, our social media activities, our events, and our initiatives created by our various subcommittees.
“A critical task will be helping the industry shift to a more sustainable footing, and we have numerous resources planned for delivering in 2024 to assist with this.
“In addition, many of our members collaborate and achieve goals to their mutual benefit, some independently but also jointly with the IPIA, as demonstrated in July this year when we took a delegation to No 10 Downing Street to discuss sustainability and innovation for both print and paper.”
More than 20 industry suppliers and exhibitors participated in the daytime event, which attracted printers and print buyers from across the UK industry.
IPIA members were also able to attend the association’s AGM, which took place after the Expo wrapped up.
Speaking to Printweek at the event, Brendan Perring, general manager of the IPIA, said: “We talk to our members relentlessly and we build our events up from what they give us as feedback, so the reason the events work is because we’re asking our print business members, and suppliers and technology providers what they want, how they want it shaped, and we’re then building the event from them up.
“What our print business members really want to do is get access in one quick space where they spend no more than a day out of their business, and actually preferably half a day, one area where they can get updates on the entire supply chain from end to end.
“Another key draw is the opportunity to meet other printers, and chat to and network with them to find out how they’re doing. And being a membership organisation – although there are non-members here – there’s a level of trust that’s built in.
“Thirdly, they want to network and meet buyers. The IPIA was founded almost as a print management organisation when it first began, and we have a really strong contingent of print buyers here – marketing agencies, creatives, and designers, so no matter who you are at the Expo, you can meet someone who you can learn from and do business with.
“I think keeping it that simple and having a formula that works and delivering that is why these events do so well.”
Exhibitors and visitors speaking to Printweek also praised the event and its format.
David McGuiness, marketing manager at PrintIQ, said: “What you get out of these events is good conversations, there’s a lot of partner networking and we get a few customers come in so pick up a lead or two as well.
“I think this is always quite a nice end to the year, brings people together, allows you to touch base with other people and reinforces relationships.”
Fujifilm Europe digital press and print manager Mark Stephenson added: “This event, as usual, is a great experience for networking and catching up with people you haven’t seen for a while.
“It’s a balance between print customers and other vendors, and [people have conversations about working together and how they can help each other] so I think it moves the industry forward in that way.”
Graham Hunstone, managing director at Visual Print and Design, also commented: “It’s good to touch base with a lot of our suppliers who are here and find out what’s new. It’s really a good time to get out of the office and mingle with other people in the industry. It’s a good atmosphere and there’s no sales pressure from anyone.”
Many of the Expo’s attendees returned a few hours later for the IPIA’s Gala Dinner, where winners of the Recognising Excellence Awards were announced. This was followed by a night of entertainment, including the IPIA’s ‘Stand-up Bingo’, to raise money for The Printing Charity, and live band Happy Hour.
One of the biggest cheers of the night went to Gabby Solarek from Eight Days A Week Print Solutions, who won the Young Leaders Award.
Solarek started as a production operative, “gaining valuable experience in bringing print campaigns to life from the shop floor”.
“However, this year, I embraced the chance to become a trainee account manager, which is allowing me to explore the other side of the business,” she told Printweek.
“In my new role, I now have the responsibility of overseeing 34 client accounts, with the number continuously growing. Alongside managing these accounts, I also handle quoting for new customer enquiries and provide support to our largest accounts. It's an exciting and challenging position that allows me to further develop my skills and contribute to the success of our clients and the company.”
On her win, she said: “I feel immensely privileged to receive such a remarkable level of acknowledgement from the industry at such an early stage of my account management training and career in print.
“Everyone from within my organisation and within the print and mail industry has been incredibly supportive and encouraging throughout this journey.
“At EDWPS, my goal is to embrace and seize every opportunity to learn and grow. Absorbing as much as I can from the exceptional talent, skills, and experience of my team and wider industries. Which I have no doubt will uncover some exciting paths that may await me.”
The list of winners and those highly commended was as follows:
IPIA Champion Award – Winners: Charles Rogers, Portland Media; Lance Hill, Eight Days A Week Print Solutions / Highly commended: Kath Doran, Spectrum Innovations
Innovation Masterclass Award – Winner: Vivid / Highly commended: DecTek; Spectrum Innovations
Manufacturer of the Year Award – Winner: Eight Days A Week Print Solutions / Highly commended: DecTek
Sustainability Advocate Award – Winner: Tradeprint / Highly commended: CarbonQuota; Antalis
Print Management of the Year Award – Winner: Latcham / Highly commended: PMG; Visual Print and Design
Young Leaders Award – Winner: Gabby Solarek, Eight Days A Week Print Solutions / Highly commended: Jess Wallace, Citipost / Certificates of commendation: Amelia Hodgson, Vivid; Cherrelle Wright, Citipost
Associate of the Year Award – Winner: The Printing Charity / Highly commended: Compass Business Finance; eProductivity Software
Community Champion Award – Winner: Nutshell Creative / Highly commended: CDP