Ipex won't be fazed by talk of three-year Drupa cycle

John Brazier
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The three-year Drupa of the 1970s was mooted several years ago during my time as chief executive of Picon.

We did not view it as a realistic threat back then, because Eumaprint, which was a fairly robust organisation at that time in terms of its influence of the global exhibition calendar, provided cohesion among the majority of print exhibition owners/organisers, allowing them to think sensibly about scheduling in the interests of the exhibitors, and I think we managed to make the Messe Dusseldorf see sense on that occasion.

However, while the idea was dropped at the time, it was still thought of as a possible, long-term objective for the Messe Dusseldorf and I think now, with the economy as it is, they’ve arguably looked at this as the best opportunity to push it
through.

Thinking about the UK and the US, I can’t imagine that this is going to go down very well with the organisers of Ipex and Print/GraphExpo.

Ipex is a tremendously important show, not just in terms of its history but in attracting an English-speaking audience from around the globe, particularly from the Commonwealth. But the exhibition industry like a lot of other industries has taken a knock in the past four years and attending trade shows remains a huge cost for exhibitors.

Drupa led the move to four years after the 1990s and we were in favour of that and our strategy was to protect Ipex’s standing as the next-biggest international exhibition after Drupa and as the biggest English-language show.

If you look at the early 2000s, there were arguably only three big international shows on the exhibition calendar – Drupa, Ipex and Print – as Igas was predominantly a Japanese event and China Print was still very much in development.

But, with China Print becoming a significant show in the international trade calendar, it doesn’t take a genius to see that,  if Drupa goes to three years, somebody is going to suffer.

The decision has probably been based upon the economic realisation that companies around the world, now and for the next five to six years, will be finding things tough – there will be the same budgets available and Drupa is striking while the iron is hot, while it’s still in a position of relative dominance.

That said, I think Ipex still has a very strong future; it has a wonderful tradition dating back 150 years and it will take more than a three-year strategy to knock it off its perch. The obvious concern would be the clash with Drupa in 2018 and the logical solution would be to have Ipex 18 months after one Drupa and before the next.

Would it be the same Ipex? I think it will continue to develop as a show, with a different edge and flavour to it. If the strategy is to keep it as an international show, which I absolutely think they will be able to do, then they might look to broaden their outlook to embrace further industry sectors.

Ipex is a very significant international brand and I believe that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

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