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The Rupp Report: ITMA Europe Or ITMA Asia - Or Even Both?

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

In spite of rumors and difficulties, ITMA Europe is still alive and celebrating its 60th birthday. However, the "most important textile machinery exhibition," as it has been called for decades, is still under pressure for various reasons:

First of all, some say there are still too many exhibitions around the world. And more than ever, companies have to justify every cent spent for foreign events such as exhibitions — not only for the booth as such, but also for transport and logistics; and the true costs for the attending personnel can be very high. Many show organizers argue that with low per-square-meter prices, every little option for the booth is very expensive and raises the costs up to extreme heights. And all that doesn't include the hotel prices.

Many will remember OTEMAS, the quadrennial Osaka International Textile Machinery Show in Japan, in the late 1990s, when transport of the exhibits from Europe to the Japanese port of Yokohama was cheaper than the transport from the port to the fairground. This is just another in a long list of reasons, all of which result in the same conclusion: the number of exhibitions must be reduced, especially in the up-and-coming countries of the Far East, where every show organizer wants to have a piece of the cake.

In the 1990s, ITMA as such was not in question. However, with the booming Asian markets, the situation was challenging, and the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers (CEMATEX), owner of ITMA, decided to start a second ITMA in Asia. After the first and second ITMA Asias in Singapore in 2001 and 2005, CEMATEX moved the show to Shanghai in 2008, having in mind the soaring Chinese market. In the beginning, there was the same rhythm as in Europe — every four years and on an alternating schedule with ITMA Europe; so there would be one ITMA in Europe; and two years later, one in Asia; and so forth. There were even discussions to establish a third ITMA in the Americas, but CEMATEX didn't find a way to bring these three events under one umbrella without again having too many exhibitions. And ITMA Europe was really under fire to be cancelled — even forever, especially after the Birmingham show in 2003. But then the surprise came:

There was another ITMA Asia in 2010, and it was rumored that the show would be held every two years going forward. One of the stated reasons was that with this move, other Chinese exhibitions could be abandoned. The outcry and head shaking among the European exhibitors began during ITMA Asia 2010 because the textile industry would now have ITMAs three years in a row — in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

ITMA Europe (?)
The discussions have never stopped about this issue: should ITMA Europe be cancelled or not? Textile World asked some European machinery manufacturers and members of CEMATEX what they thought. To get a broader view of the issue, in the focus were suppliers who are visiting the ITMAs as well as Techtextil. In general, one may say that as long there is European production of textile machinery, the Europeans will not abandon an ITMA in Europe.

The answer to the question, "How do you like the fact that there are three ITMAs in a row?" was crystal clear: None of those interviewed like the idea. The major comment was that everybody must take the return on investment into consideration, and the visiting customers have to do the same.

"However," said Sales and Marketing Director Jean-Philippe Dumon of NSC nonwoven, France, "no first-class supplier can afford to stay away from ITMA Europe. Today, ITMA has changed: Nobody is expecting true new developments. That's why I am pretty sure we will not see too many novelties in Barcelona."

Klaus Heinrichs, vice president, marketing, A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, expressed the same opinion, and added: "Every exhibitor is also expecting new impulses from the markets. An ITMA is not only an exhibition, but also a place for discussions. And, by all means, ITMA Europe will survive, at least in the mid-term."

Hermann Selker, head of marketing, Trützschler GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, also doesn't like the idea of three ITMAs in a row. "This is too much. In spite of the faster development of new equipment these days, ITMA is still the showcase to exhibit new highlights," he said. "But with such a short period of time [between shows], nobody is able to present true novelties at every show." With the reshaping of Trützschler, including the acquisition of Fleissner and Erko, the Trützschler Group will now have one single booth of approximately 1,000 square meters in Barcelona. "We are expecting a stabilization of the business," Selker continued, "and we should not forget that the textile industry is still the largest industry worldwide. As a European manufacturer, we strongly support ITMA Europe, which will remain the top event for high-performance textile machinery."

Although there have been some logistical problems and misunderstandings, which are not atypical between trade show exhibitors and organizers, the conclusion is obvious: ITMA Europe in Barcelona will be a great show in a great town. Let's hope that the euro will be in better shape by September, and that Italy will organize a great ITMA 2015 in Milan.

July 5, 2011