The Rupp Report: Who Owns And Leads ITMA?

On November 19, 2015, ITMA closed its doors. As the Rupp Report mentioned last week, it was an unexpected success, as declared by most of the questioned exhibitors. ITMA saw the highest number of exhibitors in its history — 1,691 exhibitors from 46 countries. This is a 25-percent increase from ITMA 2011 held in Barcelona. Also, the net floor space increased by some 20 percent, to more than 108,268 square meters. According to the organizers, the 17th edition of the world’s most important textile machinery exhibition attracted 123,000 visitors from 147 economies.
Before going into details about the experience of some exhibitors, the Rupp Report takes a look at some strange outcome or one thing that is not easy to understand what happened during the survey at ITMA Europe. The reason is, however, some of the questions where not answered in a very positive way: like the one “Do you feel comfortable that ITMA Asia is every two years instead of the original four year rhythm?”
A Look Back
To get the full picture of this story, one must take a look back at the history of ITMA, as far back as the early 1990s. At that time, two things happened that turned the global textile industry upside down: On the one side, the Chinese textile industry started its race to the top of the textile world, quickly becoming the largest and most potential market for the textile machinery suppliers in Europe. On the other hand, the number of textile exhibitions around the globe soared. With this in mind, the author — at that time working as editor-in-chief of another publishing company — started a global survey among its readership with a few questions such as how many textile exhibitions do you know of? And how many of them are you attending; as an exhibitor or a visitor?
Too Much Of Everything
The results were staggering. A total of 145 textile exhibitions around the world came in the list of events. 145! And some 50 percent were considered to be important for one or another company, depending on its product portfolio. Most of the replies complained about the fact that with the inflation of events companies will spend more money, time, and, last but not least, much more manpower almost every year. Another outcome was that many countries or exhibition organizers started new fairs here and there. The most important exhibitions at that time in Asia were OTEMAS in Japan, as well as two Chinese exhibitions — CITME in Beijing, and Shanghaitex, obviously in Shanghai, alternating every year. Also not forgetting ATME-I in Greenville, S.C.
So this is the environment during which the idea of a rotating ITMA started to materialize in Europe. Of course in the brains of the European Association of Textile Machinery Manufacturers (CEMATEX) members, and at that time the undisputed leader of all textile fairs, and, very importantly, the owner of the ITMA brand. And it certainly was the right time to enlarge ITMA to other market places. There were a lot of ideas. One of them was to rotate ITMA between Europe, Asia and the Americas, but where? Maybe in Miami, where many people speak Spanish, keeping Latin America in mind. At the end of the discussions and round tables, CEMATEX finally decided to enlarge ITMA only in Asia.
That was in 2001 — the year ITMA Asia (+ CITME) came into being. The idea was to eliminate a lot of local Asian shows to save money, time and manpower. OTEMAS disappeared, CITME in Beijing merged with ITMA, and Shanghaitex was supposed to be eliminated. But it didn’t work out that way. The very clever idea was to place ITMA Asia in a neutral country, accessible for all, and that was Singapore. The CEMATEX committees firmly decided to do an ITMA every two years, once in Europe and then two years later in Asia. That would leave enough time for the machinery producers to develop new equipment before the next event.
ITMA Asia 2001 in Singapore and the following edition 2005, were great successes with no problem at all. Everybody — exhibitors and visitors — were more than happy. MP Expositions as a newcomer in this business did a great job. The halls and the logistics were perfect, with access to the country no problem at all.
Eliminate ITMA Europe?
Some suggested that because of the rising importance of Asia, ITMA in Europe would become obsolete and most probably would disappear very soon. Happily, some cool-headed people said no to this absurd idea, mentioning that Europe will always remain the center of research and development.
In the meantime, ITMA Asia moved to Shanghai for the reason that “China is the most important market for textile machinery.” This move was accompanied with a lot of noise, both positive and negative. Nobody knew then, and still don’t know now, how and who did all this.
A New Rhythm
Then, the next surprise occurred: The four-year rhythm of the show was moved to every two years. Since 2008, every two years there is an ITMA Asia. Sometimes, the bizarre situation occurs where there is an ITMA Asia, next year an ITMA Europe and next year an ITMA Asia again. In the meantime, Shanghaitex increased its presence from a two-year rhythm down to every year. And the Europeans are moaning again that there are too many exhibitions.
Finally, the press conference at ITMA in November 2015 hosted some 50 international journalists. There were a lot of words about ITMA, but no news about ITMA Asia, new rhythm, four years again? Nothing. A question was posed to the podium to clarify the situation: Who owns ITMA Asia? Answer from the CEMATEX President: we own the label. That’s it. And then the lady from MP Expositions said to stop asking questions about other issues than ITMA in Milan. How funny is that at a press conference, organizers would stop people from doing their job? But it gets even better …
Who’s The Boss?
As mentioned above, The Rupp Report questioned some 15 top suppliers from around the world and asked, “Do you feel comfortable that ITMA Asia is every two years instead of the 4-year rhythm like the first two shows? Everybody said, “No, we would prefer to go back to the four year cycle to have time to develop new products.” And now the question again: Who owns ITMA Asia and who has a say in this? One could be forgiven for thinking it is not CEMATEX, because this organization is supposed to belong to the industry. And every organization should do what its members want to do, right? Well, one could say we are talking about ITMA Europe. No sir, the wrong heartbeat of ITMA Asia will beat again in October 2016. And that’s only 10 months away!

December 1, 2015