‘New’ Ipex excels for many but future looks less secure

To all intents and purposes, last month’s ‘new’ Ipex, while much smaller than previous shows, actually exceeded many peoples’ expectations.

However, it doesn’t necessarily appear to have met owner Informa’s expectations, and within days of the show closing event director Trevor Crawford announced his departure, the marketing and sales team were put under consultation and Ipex’s sister show, Cross Media was shelved as an annual event.

So what happened?

In the summer of 2012 Ipex was three-quarters of the way to filling the 100,000sqm of available floor space at its new London home. However, less than a year later, following a swathe of well-documented, high-profile withdrawals, some in the industry questioned if the event would even go ahead.

But go ahead it did and in many exhibitors’ and visitors’ eyes, it was a very successful show: millions of pounds’ worth kit was sold and almost 23,000 people visited, although this figure included the just over 3,500 exhibitors.

But there’s no denying it was a very different show to Ipex 2010, which attracted 50,000 visitors.

“It was still a good show,” says Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) joint managing director Bryan Godwyn. “It was a finishing and software show in many respects, but for us it over delivered – we set a nominal target of £500,000 from the show rising to £1m total in the following three months, but we nearly hit the million mark in the six days.”

IFS wasn’t alone in thinking the show exceeded expectations, rival post-press supplier Duplo achieved £1.2m worth of sales at the show.

“Pro-rata it was an even more successful show for us than 2010. ROI was far stronger too, because it was a smaller show for us investment wise,” says Jolly.

“Like everyone else, we were heading into the unknown, but to get that sort of result was beyond our wildest expectations.”

Jolly’s comments are echoed by Mark Hinder, market development manager of the largest exhibitor Konica Minolta: “It was exceptional. We took over 1,400 leads for the UK alone and we sold multiple presses off the stand and we’re tracking £1m worth of UK business.”

However, while Ipex 2014 over delivered, few would argue that if Ipex is to continue in some shape or form then it will have to change. While the new focus on educational features, such as the World Print Summit and Master Classes, were generally well received, they don’t pay the bills as far as exhibitors are concerned.

International event

This year’s event attracted a high proportion of international visitors and while the full breakdown won’t be available for a few weeks, if the pre-registration split carries through then almost half of the visitors were international, which represents something of a challenge for many exhibitors that funded the show largely out of their UK budgets.

“I can’t see how they could run it as an international show again, but if it was a truly UK and European event we would support it. But if they try to maintain it as a rival to Drupa, no way – the appetite just isn’t there from the exhibitors,” says Godwyn.

And that raises the question: if Ipex is no longer an international show, is it big enough for Informa to continue running?

Of course, Informa already runs events smaller than Ipex, in fact it runs two in the print space: Cross Media and North Print & Pack. However, with the former show already rolled into Ipex and the latter still missing a confirmed date next year, after the events of the past few weeks it seems nothing is certain.

Although Informa Exhibitions managing director Peter Hall is adamant that Ipex does have a future and the changes to the team are just part of the usual show cycle.

“Ipex is a quadrennial event and therefore after every event, the sales and marketing team are either redeployed internally or, unfortunately, will leave to pursue opportunities externally,” said Hall in a statement.

Informa will inevitably spend the next few weeks and months gathering feedback from the industry, but so far at least, the ‘new’ Ipex seems to have largely been well received. That said, when the new Ipex team is put together in 2016, the goal posts may well have moved again.

“With the radical change from 2010 to 2014, I think Informa needs to use this time to think about how much the market has changed and how quickly that change happened, but I believe that Ipex still has its place and will continue to evolve,” says Jolly.

However, Informa will undoubtedly have its work cut out convincing the companies that didn’t exhibit in 2014 to re-engage in 2018.

“It can be a tough company to deal with regarding contracts, and it may be a case of ‘once bitten, twice shy’ for those companies that had to pay a cancellation fee, but I think if they’re sensible and support exhibitors with power, logistics and catering, then they can make it easy for us and them to say yes for 2018,” says Godwyn.

But the consensus seems to be that the exhibitors at least, definitely want Ipex to live on.

“We’re 100% committed to Ipex. Yes, the numbers were down and the show needs to evolve, but we as manufacturers need to change too. We can’t just sit back and expect a show to be a success, we have to engage, we have to look at content,” says Hinder.

“We have to give people a reason to turn up, that worked for us at Ipex and think those manufacturers that didn’t attend Ipex this time around missed a trick, but hopefully they won’t make that mistake again.”

Opinion: Informa is committed to Ipex but the show must remain relevant

peter-hall-informaPeter Hall, managing director, Informa Exhibitions

The early feedback from exhibitors and visitors has been very positive about Ipex 2014. 

We are still conducting all of our post-event research and will release a full report in about a month’s time. 

However, Informa feels very upbeat about the prospects for Ipex 2018 and I had positive conversations with many of the exhibitors that were absent from 2014 during the show. We will work with them and all other key Ipex stakeholders on the run-up to Ipex 2018 to ensure the conditions are right for a fully supported event. 

We have proved many things at Ipex 2014, including a great venue, the London location, the extensive content programme and many other Ipex firsts.

Without doubt there will be many fewer variables in the run-up to Ipex 2018 and we feel we have the right model and a good understanding of what the market wants in order to safely chart the next phase of Ipex’s journey. Events work and are exciting and energising experiences for visitors and exhibitors alike, they’re places where everything comes together and the industry can take a look at itself and celebrate the successes.

Sometimes events need to change in order to stay relevant and I think we all recognise that the Ipex of the future will be different to the Ipex of the past.

We have gone through an adjustment with Ipex and the challenges we have faced have been well documented, but I truly believe that we now have a very attractive foundation from which to build upon.

I have said this many times before and I will say it again, if there’s one thing the industry needs to know about the future of the show it is this: Informa is fully committed to Ipex.

Reader reaction: Did Ipex 2014 and the new venue live up to your expectations?

jacky-sidebottom-glossopJacky Sidebottom-Every, sales director, Glossop Cartons

“I enjoyed Ipex and I didn’t expect to; I thought it would be a bit embarrassing, but it was good.We do need to keep a UK machinery show; if it disappears it will be our loss. I do think some companies in the North didn’t go because of the London venue, so if they could move it back to the middle of the country – maybe Birmingham – that would be good. I was most impressed by the post-press kit on display. In fact we bought a Lamina FA laminator. We would have bought one eventually anyway, but being at Ipex got us a good discount.”

andrew-jones-stephens-georgeAndrew Jones, managing director, Stephens & George

“I went on the Wednesday, just to see what it was like more than anything else – we’ve bought everything that we need over the past two years. There was a lot of digital print and front-end stuff that was of no interest to me, and only a couple of little things I looked at. Of what I saw, it was okay – it didn’t bowl me over and there was nothing really for a company of our size and type.”

adrian-tolleyAdrian Tolley, production director, Prime Group

“The no-shows were disappointing. Just some representation would have been fine. I don’t need to see their latest piece of kit; I’m quite happy to just talk about it and gather information, and arrange to go and see it (if I’m interested). But the biggest issue for me was the location. There’s no issue getting to Excel, but if Ipex is to become a smaller, more focused event then I’d have to question whether it would be worth me spending six hours in a car or on public transport to visit a show that I can get around in a day.”

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