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Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The Rupp Report: The Fight For Attention

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

What a strange situation: It wasn’t long ago that ITMA Europe was characterized as dispensable, almost useless or — at the minimum — not as important as ITMA Asia. After two successful ITMA Asias, this thinking was quite common in the past few years, and ITMA Europe became second-best. However, this thinking changed a lot in 2007. In the Textile World preview of ITMA Europe, it was mentioned that “Europe is striking back,” and Europe did strike back. In terms of feedback and organization, ITMA 2007 in Munich, Germany, was the best ITMA ever, as was confirmed by the majority of attendees.

However, if one takes a look at ITMA Asia, things have changed a lot, too. To avoid too many exhibitions in Asia — mostly in mainland China — the European Association of Textile Machinery Manufacturers (CEMATEX) and sponsoring Chinese textile associations decided that Shanghai will be the venue for the next two ITMA Asia exhibitions. One reason is that China is closer to the markets than Singapore, the shows original location. Furthermore, it was decided the exhibition should take place every two years. This step should eliminate at least one CITME or one Shanghaitex every year. The first one of these shows will be in the summer of 2008. Up to now, ITMA Asia has been the indisputable top event for 2008. But off the record, rumors are rumbling that times are changing for the Asian ITMA.

India ITME
Later in 2008, another important exhibition will take place — India ITME in Bangalore, India. Over the past few years, textile business in India has increased considerably. Big textile machinery suppliers from Europe are enjoying substantial business in India more than ever before. If one talks to many European machinery suppliers these days, it is clear that India ITME is becoming more and more the focus of exhibition activities in Asia. What are the reasons for this quite surprising change of mind? It’s mostly a matter of communication.

The ITMA Label
First of all, it’s the ITMA brand. Manufacturers, mainly from Europe, are used to the fact that an ITMA is a well-organized exhibition. The ITMA label means everything is perfect, terms are kept, the schedule will not be changed  — who’s shouting Barcelona?  — and everything runs smoothly. This was twice the fact with Singapore. But now it’s Shanghai. Many are claiming problems, and that ITMA Asia 2008 will be a local Chinese show but not a true ITMA Asia. Many Europeans are complaining that the show will not be the same as the Singapore event. Of course it won’t, it’s in China. It’s another culture, another language, just to mention a few reasons. Of course, it’s not easy to communicate with Chinese people; it’s easier to talk to Singaporeans. However ….

Don’t Miss The Chance

To now focus only on India and reduce ITMA Asia down to a local Chinese event could be disastrous. One should know that Chinese people rarely forget anything. One thing is sure, both sides should talk more to each other. The Europeans should not forget that they do a lot of business in China, and the Chinese market is, and always will be, a challenge. On the other hand, the Chinese should not forget that they depend on the Western world too. And this means communication. Time is tight, let’s go for it.

December 18, 2007