The organisation said that, following close dialogue with its national associations and exhibitors, it has taken the decision to postpone Fespa Global Print Expo 2020, the European Sign Expo 2020 and Sportswear Pro 2020, originally scheduled to take place at IFEMA Madrid from 24 to 27 March 2020.
Based on exhibitor feedback, Fespa said it will now seek to reschedule the events for a later date, with precise timing and venue still to be determined based on venue availability.
Fespa chief executive Neil Felton said: “Until this week, our actions with regard to COVID-19 – including the pre-emptive action taken in February regarding exhibiting companies from China – have been informed by guidance from the relevant international and national authorities, with the primary objective of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of exhibitors and visitors.
“However, in light of the recent spread of the virus in specific areas of mainland Europe, we have consulted with our stakeholders and have concluded that it is in the best interests of our community to defer the events to a later date.”
Fespa said it will provide an update regarding revised event dates “in due course”.
A raft of other events have been affected by the coronavirus, including the London Book Fair, which was set to take place at the Olympia from 10 to 12 March but was called off earlier today.
Messe Düsseldorf has also cancelled a raft of upcoming proprietary events in March and early April due to the coronavirus situation, but said there are currently “no intentions” to postpone Interpack or Drupa.
Industry members, including prospective visitors and exhibitors, have now responded to the announcement of Fespa 2020’s postponement.
Iain Clasper-Cotte, managing director of Leeds-based Northern Flags and Faber Exposize UK and a regular show attendee, told Printweek he had been anticipating the announcement for a while.
“We print a lot for exhibition companies, and I had seen what the poor stand builders were going through with cancellations at shows across Europe,” he said. “We were seeing cancellations even at shows which had low participation from Asia, so saw the potential for Fespa to postpone.
“It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think they had a choice here – my instinct is if it had gone ahead a lot of exhibitors just would not have turned up."
HP, which had been planning on a major presence at the Madrid expo, expressed support for Fespa’s decision this morning.
Director of global marketing for large-format Patricia Rodrigues said: “In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, we appreciate the speed and close collaboration with their partners that Fespa took in order to reschedule the event this March.
“We continue to work with Fespa to create an even more exciting event and look to welcoming people on-stand in due course.”
On its Twitter account, Sun Chemical said: “Sun Chemical supports the Fespa decision to postpone the upcoming Global Print Expo and we look forward to exhibiting at the rescheduled exhibition.”