Labels & Packaging
Despite the current negative attention, it’s not all doom and gloom for our national show. HP started the ball rolling last week with an announcement reported by PrintWeek that said it wasn’t planning to exhibit at Ipex 2014, which was followed a couple of days later by an announcement from Agfa Graphics saying that it too would not be exhibiting at the show.
PrintWeek then did what it does best and probably asked Benny Landa for a quote on the matter and, rather than say nothing, it would appear that his vanilla reply that ‘the company will obviously be reviewing the situation in light of these announcements’ did nothing but add to the speculation that Ipex has suddenly become some sort of washed up, punch drunk prize fighter staggering around the ring and is about to fall through the ropes. I know it is summer and there isn’t a lot of news about, but come on? Ipex, like Benny Landa, is bigger than you think.
HP’s EMEA marketing director for Graphics Solutions Business, Ronen Zioni told PrintWeek that the company’s decision to not attend Ipex in 2014 (that still seems so far away) was strategic, rather than budgetary, but the company would “absolutely” be exhibiting again at Drupa 2016 in addition to confirming its attendance at FESPA 2013 (a show dedicated to display printing) in London at the ExCel, and seeing as both Drupa and FESPA are major international events, this comes as no surprise.
Did you bother to go to Drupa this year? I doubt that many UK jobbing printers bothered to go outside of the UK Top 500 who can afford to travel in groups of two’s and three’s, maybe even more. And if you break down the actual visitor numbers by country, taking into consideration that half the visitors came from Germany, and of the other half, the country with the largest visiting contingent was India with some 15,000 visitors. This was followed by Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and then the UK, followed by a smattering from the USA, Switzerland and Italy. By my reckoning this would equate to about 500 UK print companies at most, taking out all the journalists, freelancers, PR people, advertising sales people and just about anybody else who isn’t actually a print service provider but nevertheless fancied popping over to Düsseldorf for a couple of days ‘to keep up to speed’ with all that is new in printing or to try and pick up a bit of business off the back of the show.
Therefore with so little British interest in attending Drupa, and with FESPA coming to Excel one year ahead of Ipex, it would appear that HP has made a pretty astute business decision when faced with having to slash 27,000 jobs in a bid to focus on higher margin areas of business in the light of falling revenues across its divisions. Little wonder that Zioni then went on to explain that the decision was of course linked to return on investment, but also said the move was about shifting more resources towards regionally focussed, application centric, and customer engaging projects for its customers.
Regular readers will know that this is very much a part of HP’s current line of thinking. In the wide format sector its Latex Truck Tour covered most of Europe bringing a more hands on customer focussed approach to how it presented its products. Its presence at FESPA Digital in Barcelona earlier this year was totally focussed on customers as it was at Sign & Digital in the UK.
Zioni also wrote an excellent Your Shout piece for Graphic Display World back in January 2012 where he stated that he felt customer focussed events were imperative for HP’s dealers to build stronger relationships with PSPs and that suppliers should see it as part of their obligation to them as their customer; to deliver expertise-sharing initiatives that encourage and inspire them to reach their business goals, and share with them tips and tricks on how to maximise the effectiveness of the print hardware or supplies they have purchased from them. Which in plain speak probably means that HP thinks its dealers should get more involved with localised marketing and customer events.
Therefore, from just the wide format perspective, one can conclude that corporately, HP probably does take the view that Ipex 2014 is more of a local event than say Drupa or FESPA, but I expect the company will be encouraging its UK dealer network to exhibit at the show in a bid to help raise the industry profile of many of its UK dealers in the graphic arts sector, many of whom have a very low profile at present. Which brings me on to Agfa’s supposed ‘shock’ announcement.
Like Kodak, Agfa was once a tour de force to be reckoned with in the graphic arts imaging sector. In fact back in Benny Landa’s day some fifteen years ago when he was launching Indigo at Ipex 1993, Agfa was right up there alongside him launching its own digital print engine which later became Xeikon. Since then Agfa has been many things to many people, but the company’s main focus today is seemingly in delivering wide format inkjet production technology into the growing sign and display sector where it is enjoying significant success, particularly among its loyal customer base who continue to trust the company, its brand, and above all its highly knowledgeable sales and support people.
Knowing the way these things tend to work, I’d wager that the first the people in the UK knew about the company’s decision to not attend Ipex 2014, which was probably the idea of a bean counter in a dimly lit room who knows bugger all about the business of printing, was from a tweet put out by Agfa Graphics that simply said: "Agfa Graphics cancels IPEX 2014 participation to refocus resources on emerging markets and more personalized customer initiatives and events." Excellent, who says that social media doesn’t work? But, just like HP, Agfa can easily be represented in full at Ipex 2014 by its own UK dealer channel.
What we have with Ipex 2014 is an opportunity for our national show to move with the times and reflect the modern face of digital printing. The progressive thinking PSP deserves to have a show that provides them with an opportunity to meet the right people who can offer help, advice, and information about products and services that can boost their bottom line, but moreover feed them with innovative ideas and inspiration that can help them better serve their customers. I think that Ipex 2014 with its seminar and conference facilities, along with a cracking combination of wide format and digital production printing vendors and dealers under the one roof in London will go a long way to deliver such a show.
It’s high time the old Bismarck’s of the printing industry were scuttled to make way for the new, faster, sleeker, sexy print engines of tomorrow which, if Benny Landa gets his act together with the right kind of manufacturing partners, Ipex 2014 could well turn out to be the best damn print show this country has ever put on.
Don’t write off Ipex because some Johnny Bean Counter can’t balance his budget. There’s plenty of life in the old girl yet.
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