Informa pulls the plug on Ipex

Richard Stuart-Turner and Rhys Handley
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ipex is set to close following a period of consultation with the industry.

The most recent edition of the show, Ipex 2017, was organised by Informa and took place at Birmingham’s NEC from 31 October to 3 November last year.

Informa claimed more than 150 brands exhibited at the event but this was well down on the 400 exhibitors at the 2014 show, held at London’s ExCel.

Visitor numbers also dropped sharply to around 7,000, significantly below the 23,000 visitors to the London show three years prior, which was itself way down on the 50,000 visitors to the 2010 event.

Last time the show was held at the NEC in 2010, it occupied eleven halls around the atrium. In 2017 the event occupied part of hall 5.

Ipex event director Rob Fisher said: “Through Ipex, we’re proud to have played a role in an important and diverse industry, and to have supported a brand that has such a long history. We enjoyed organising and delivering Ipex 2017 and received positive feedback from exhibitors, many of whom recorded excellent levels of interest and sales at the event.

“The changing market conditions and appetite for a large-scale event which focuses on ‘Print in Action’ continues to be challenging.

“Having engaged with a range of exhibitors and partners to evaluate the options for Ipex, we have concluded that the requirements of the industry no longer match our own in terms of the cycle, scale and what is required to help us further support and fully invest in the brand.”

Informa launched its industry consultation late last year and at the time had been considering turning Ipex into a biennial event.

The world’s first ever printing trade show, Ipex first opened its doors in 1880. It was traditionally held every four years, with a schedule timed to allow a two-year gap between Ipex and Drupa.

Informa acquired the show from Picon in 2006 in a £12.6m deal that included £5.3m of cash on the Ipex balance sheet.

Picon chief executive Bettine Pellant said: “Because of our previous involvement with the show and the fact it has been running so long, this is a sad day. It demonstrates how the landscape is changing not only in the print industry but in many others.

“Manufacturers are looking at different ways of showing their products, and there is less of a need to be able to see everything in a single, large exhibition now than there was 20 years ago. Now, machines can be previewed online in videos and reviews.

“We continued to work with Informa after we sold Ipex to them in 2006, serving on the joint executive committee for the remaining shows. I think 2017 introduced a lot of new thinking and innovation – such as the collaboration with the London School of Fashion – but the news today did not come as a surprise and I think, commercially, it was a good decision.”

Apex Digital Graphics had a major presence at the final Ipex, at which it debuted the RMGT Ryobi 928P press, equipped with LED-UV curing.

Apex sales and marketing director Neil Handforth said: “We were the only exhibitor that took a true press to the show, certainly an eight-colour.

“We got good feedback, but most of us who had been involved in Ipexes going back remember the scale of the show and it was very sad for the industry to see it running in the form that it was in.

“The failure to attract more visitors was clearly one of the reasons for its failure but the exhibition landscape has been changing for a while. The move to London in 2014 was another one of many factors but I think it was an ill-fated move.”

For more industry reaction, see the next issue of PrintWeek.

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