Shocked. Surprised. Disappointed. And these are some of the more upbeat reactions to HP's decision to pull out of Ipex 2014. The move has come as a body blow not just to event organiser Informa, but to the whole industry. Publicly, a brave face is being put on things - particularly from those who have committed to exhibiting: the show must and will go on, with or without its largest exhibitor.
As Gerard Heanue, managing director of Heidelberg UK, the largest exhibitor on the current Ipex 2014 floorplan, says: "We have signed a contract and we’re going. I’m sorry to hear HP won’t be there. We want it to be a good show with all the global players, so visitors will come to see all the technologies. It’s a shame. HP always put on a good show."
Privately, some manufacturers have expressed concerns at the impact HP’s decision could have on attendance – among other exhibitors and prospective visitors. Agfa’s confirmation that it would not be attending either and Landa’s announcement – as PrintWeek went to press – that it was "revisiting" its plans for the show would suggest those fears are well-founded. "It’s nothing short of a catastrophe," was one vendor’s frank assessment.
At the very least Landa and the other potential exhibitors have just acquired a big stick with which to beat Informa when it comes to negotiating their attendance at Excel come 2014. All of which would be bad enough in a ‘normal’ Ipex cycle, but in the year when the show moves from its spiritual home in Birming-ham to the bright lights of London, it becomes all the more significant.
While clearly disappointed by HP’s decision, Informa print group and event director Trevor Crawford, highlights that 70% of the 2014 show’s floor space is already sold, with dozens of other digital vendors taking bigger stands than last time (see opinion).
"Of course I would love to have HP too, but I like to think that the 70% that is booked are not exhibiting at Ipex because of HP, they’re exhibiting because we deliver a significant ROI to them and the visitors," he adds.
"We’ve always been very honest, we have had HP on the floor plan, but we’ve been moving their footprint down in size for months and if anyone ever asked if they had confirmed the answer was always ‘no’."
The answer may have been "no" but clearly, based on the surprise with which HP’s announcement has been greeted, the expectation was that they would be there. To go from the biggest exhibitor in 2010 to a no-show in 2014 is quite a reversal; clearly HP could not see the benefit in taking a much smaller stand (as many have suggested they should), rather than pulling out altogether.
By withdrawing, Agfa and HP have led many to ask the obvious question: are there too many shows? More specifically, in a shrinking market and a stagnant economy, can the industry support both Ipex and Drupa?
Trade shows can be divided into international and regional events. For print, the former consists of Drupa, Ipex, Print, Igas and China Print. Print is North America’s only true international print show; Igas and China Print are both based in Asia, which arguably continues to exhibit sufficient growth to justfiy both shows; while Drupa and Ipex are both based in Europe. The logical conclusion to the events of the past week is that a number of major manufacturers no longer feel able to support a Europe-centric international trade show every other year. Given Drupa’s status as the biggest show in the industry this puts Ipex at risk. Landa Corporation chairman and chief executive Benny Landa says: "The only one I can say is a must, apart from Drupa, is China Print".
Obviously, different manufacturers will have different priorities and for some Ipex absolutely is a "must". "As a UK manufacturer I would like an Ipex every two years as it is a very successful show for us," says Duplo UK managing director Tony Lock. "So I don’t necessarily think that there are too many shows, but for some of the shows the cost can be very difficult to justify. I want Ipex to be successful as I think it’s very important for the UK to have an international show."
HP has stressed that its decision is strategic, rather than budgetary, and linked to return on investment. Fair enough, but it’s a tough call to estimate what the ROI will be for Ipex 2014 when we’re still two years out. As Inkshop managing director and member of the Ipex 2014 committee Stuart Mason argues: "I think 2013 will be another poor year and 2014 will be the year of recovery. As such, Ipex is perfectly timed and a lot of the people who’ve struggled to get funding or who’ve been holding off investing over the past five or six years will be in a position to spend. There will be a lot of positivity back in the market and I think the exhibitiors need to bear that in mind when making these sorts of decisions and not just base it on Drupa this year and Ipex before that, when the industry was struggling with the global downturn."
- HP’s announcement last Friday that it will not be exhibiting at Ipex 2014 has shocked the print industry and heaped pressure on event organiser Informa
- Since then Agfa and Kolbus have also confirmed their absence from the show, which is moving to London’s Excel after decades at the NEC in Birmingham
- As PrintWeek went to press, Landa Corporation chairman Benny Landa said that the innovative digital manufacturer was "revisiting" its plans for Ipex
- Despite these announcements, Informa has said 70% of the floor space is already sold, with numerous digital manufacturers booking bigger stands than in 2010
- However, some are questioning whether the industry can continue to support two Europe-based international trade shows, particularly given the current economic
- Given Drupa’s status as the biggest show in the industry, Ipex could be at risk if exhibitors decide there are too many trade shows
What do you think of HP’s decision not to exhibit at Ipex?
Managing director, FFEI
"Ipex is an important show and it’s disappointing that HP doesn’t feel able to support it. A successful trade show comes about from cooperation across all suppliers and as soon as people start pulling out it can all start heading in the wrong direction. Obviously for the people who have committed, the show goes on, but some who haven’t may now be thinking let’s wait and see. HP not exhibiting at Ipex in 2014 is certainly not going to be a ‘nail in the coffin’ but it’s not particularly healthy for the show either."
"I was very surprised to hear that HP will not be exhibiting at Ipex. They were the second largest exhibitor at Drupa and I was expecting them to be the
largest again at Ipex. Exhibiting at trade shows is a big investment and it can be difficult to assess whether you always get a return on that investment. It’s clear that they spend an awful lot of money when they go to a trade show and if it was me I would scale down rather than give it a miss; however, for larger companies perhaps that is a bad message to send out."
Chief executive, Friedheim
"I don’t expect other manufacturers to follow suit. I think they may see it as an opportunity to maybe have a bigger presence. I also don’t think HP’s decision has anything to do with Ipex’s move from Birmingham to London. Shows are not a beauty parade for manufacturers, but a significant investment, Manufacturers must look at the ROI. There are too many trade shows and outside of international shows, exhibiting at specialised ones like the Hunkeler Innovation days is better value – you know your audience will attend."