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Numbers down, but still the decision-makers’ trade fair

There was a more positive atmosphere at this year’s Drupa exhibition, held in Düsseldorf last month, than there was at the last event in 2008. Four years ago, there were worries about the effects of a global recession but, this year an air of optimism was clearly evident, despite concerns about the Euro. The printing industry has identified opportunities for growth and is investing heavily in new technologies.

Summing up the show, Bernhard Schreier, president of Drupa 2012 and board chairman at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, said that what the 1,850 exhibitors presented over the two weeks of the event will strengthen the development potential of the print industry in the long term: “Here in Düsseldorf business was done and points were set for the future of the sector”.

Yet despite the confidence shown by exhibitors, visitor numbers were noticeably down and the official end figure was 314,500, 75,500 less than in 2008. What was striking was the high number from India – around 15,000 – the second largest visitor nation after Germany (123,000). Following these two in the country ranking were Belgium, France, Netherlands, UK, USA, Switzerland and Italy.

The drop in visitors, however, is hardly surprising given that in Germany alone between 2000 and 2011 the printing industry lost around 3,900 operations with over 61,000 employees. In the USA over the same period more than 7,700 printing operations closed, according to Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf. “Against this backdrop it is not surprising that fewer visitors came to Drupa 2012,” he said. “However – and this is the key point – customers now no longer come to Drupa as large delegations or on group corporate trips; it is much more top managers who travel to Düsseldorf. Drupa is clearly the decisionmakers’ trade fair and the trade fair for business.”

However, there is optimism that the backlog in investment on many markets around the world is now gradually being overcome.

The dominant themes at Drupa 2012 were automation, packaging printing, digital printing, hybrid technologies, web-to-print applications and environmentally sound printing. Indeed, 40% of visitors indicated that they were interested in digital printing machinery and digital printing systems. See our report in this month’s features section.

Felicity Murray,

Editor


Felicity Murray Felicity Murray