Ipex to quit NEC for London's Excel in 2014

Jo Francis
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ipex owner Informa Exhibitions is moving the show to London's Excel exhibition centre, ending its 30-year association with the NEC.

The change of venue also involves an earlier date for the show, which will take place from 26 March to 2 April in 2014, in order to avoid Easter and the May bank holidays.

Exhibition director Trevor Crawford said: "All the time we were at the NEC there had never been another real choice, but the development of phase two at Excel took it up to 100,000sqm of space and made it a genuine alternative for us to look at."

Ipex will take over the whole of Excel, and Crawford believes it will be possible to create more of an 'Ipex City' feeling in London's Docklands than was possible in Birmingham.

The attraction of London to Ipex's all-important international visitors is one of the prime reasons behind the switch. The number of non-UK attendees increased from 40% in 2006 to 48% of the total at Ipex 2010, and is expected to breach 50% next time around.

"The long-term growth of Ipex has to be about international growth," Crawford added, while Ipex 2014 president David Preskett, professional print director at Canon Europe, said: "For Ipex to be the show it should be we want to build the international audience. London, with the Olympic plans, is the ideal platform as we move forward."

Last summer PrintWeek revealed that Informa was considering a move to Excel and Crawford said the decision had taken the best part of year to make, including extensive consultations with some 60 key exhibitors, 90% of whom were in favour of the move.

The Ipex team also engaged specialist engineers Knapp Hicks to carry out a structural survey of Excel due to concerns about whether the venue's floors were strong enough to carry working printing presses.

Based on the firm's calculations of the "worst possible scenario" for weight and vibration, Informa will pay for strategic underpinning to floor areas where presses will be installed, to ensure the necessary rigidity.

"We took it very seriously as we are looking at moving the show there permanently," Crawford explained. "I don't know of anyone who's gone into this level of detail on a venue."

Public transport links to Excel are being improved as a result of infrastructure changes linked to the London 2012 Olympic games, and Informa's decision to return the show to the capital was welcomed by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

"It's tremendous news for London, and certainly befitting to our Olympic legacy and standing on the international events stage that the 'Olympics of the global Printing Industry' returns home to our city," said Johnson.

Informa also intends to put together options to attract UK attendees such as park and ride, and coach tours from northern hubs to bring in more domestic visitors.

"We have to find new ways to engage with UK visitors and we've got to make Ipex the show they want to come to – how do we attract those people who didn't come in the past? That's part of the challenge for the next three years," Preskett added.


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