The old saying that a bad last dry run — like a dress rehearsal — is a happy omen for the start of a show was confirmed again at ITMA 2015. The exhibition was held for the first time in its history in November at the new Fiera Milano Rho in Milan where the World Expo took place from May 1 until October 31, 2015.
A Doubtful Preparation Stage
Prior to the show, clouds covered the ITMA skies: With the recent economic problems and the current situation of China in mind, many people in the industry wondered if everything would go well. The Rupp Report voiced its doubts about the event in several reports some months ago.
Many exhibitors questioned by the author at this years’ ITMA confirmed that they had problems during erection of the booth with the providers of the fairground, Fiera Milano, however, only few with MP Planners.
However, despite the very confusing layout in the halls with its areas without naming the alleys with “zones” instead of alleys from A to Z, this event turned out to be enormously successful. Here some overall impressions from various interviews during the last few days of the show.
The total visitor frequency was more than ok for all people interviewed; some even mentioned that their booth was overrun with visitors, particularly during the first five days. The same can be said about the quality of the visitors. There are no more tourists anymore at the ITMA Europe, “just top people and decision makers” as most of the exhibitors happily mentioned. And, yes, some exhibitors recorded sales during the show. Not only contracts “ready-to-sign,” but true sales on the spot. One exhibitor told us that he has sold all exhibits from the booth. That is not bad if one thinks about shipping costs. And, one wonders, if expectations were more than fulfilled.
Of outstanding interest was the question “from which countries or regions did the visitors come from to see your products?” The answers were somewhat surprising. India (yes!) was at the top along with Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan. But also visitors from Europe — particularly for nonwovens and technical textiles — and Italy for fashion, as well as Iran, Brazil and the United States were mentioned. For obvious reasons, only a few visitors from China were in Milan.
Despite of the importance of the Asian markets, for most of the exhibitors, Europe is still a very important market, and above all, still the place to develop and test new equipment in the market. “Europeans like to work with their supplier developing a new machine,” said one exhibitor. “Then they feel involved and are the most potential customer for the new product.” On the other side, the Asian markets, and above all, China, are the places where the music is still playing.
Without any doubt, Europe is still the market where new equipment is to be seen for the very first time, despite all rumors and stories about the powerful Asian markets. At last year’s ITMA Asia many European exhibitors told The Rupp Report that they would wait one more year to show their new products in Milan, and that’s exactly what happened.
Of particular interest is sustainability, or more precise water and energy savings. Every supplier that showed new equipment that consumes less power, less water or produces at a faster speed was very happy with the feedback from visitors.
More than ever, so the majority of exhibitors, it is important listening very carefully to the customers’ requirements and one has to focus even more on service and after sales service. “Only if you have the solution for every customer’s requirement, you can survive on a long-term base”, said one manufacturer.
The forecast for 2015 is deliberately positive, if one takes the positive ITMA into consideration. Some markets are still very volatile with strong political turmoil and influences from local governments. However, most of the companies see a promising future for their products. Some suppliers have already delivery times in the second half of 2016.
“For sure”, said one exhibitor, “the TTIP will strongly influence future markets, particularly the one with China.” The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) in negotiation between the United States and the European Union. It should promote multilateral economic growth. From the U.S. side, this agreement is considered to be an amendment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the United States is pushing to get to the final conclusion with the Europeans. Though, a European initiative called “European Citizens’ Initiative” against TTIP and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been established. CETA is a FTA between the European Union and Canada. This story isn’t yet written to its end.
Some exhibitors think these agreements are good for Asia, but not so good for China. Nevertheless, all questioned exhibitors will participate at the ITMA Asia next year.
Prior to ITMA 2015, the curtain was lifted about the venue for the next ITMA Europe in June 2019. The event will be held in Barcelona again after that country hosted in 2011 — for some people quite a surprise. Munich was very much the frontrunner before the announcement. However, everybody likes the Catalan capital and will participate in 2019. Rumors say that Munich even didn’t join the race for the next ITMA Europe because of the costs.
Costs and service were other hot issues at the event. But that’s another story to be discussed in the near future, along with the fact that none of the questioned exhibitors support the fact that ITMA Asia is organized every two years instead of the same rhythm like Europe. We’ll see.
November 24, 2015