First Impressions of IPEX 2014

IPEX 2014 opened its doors. IPEX has a four-year cycle and is timed to fall in the period between two drupa trade shows. IPEX made its name as a show where prospects could check the status of new products that had been “pre-announced” at drupa. It has ranked as one of the largest graphic arts trade shows in the world. After many years in Birmingham, 2014 is the show’s first year at the London Excel exhibition grounds. The move to the new location in London was significant, but that fact was overshadowed by the very well-publicized withdrawal of most of the major printing equipment manufacturers. In fact, over the past year there has been much discussion about whether IPEX would even take place at all. Well, it is taking place, but at a much smaller scale.

InfoTrends has already written about the move by many vendors to shun trade shows in lieu of open houses, targeted customer events, or select user groups. (The most recent example is Canon’s announcement that it would be forming a user group.) Trade shows are no longer the unique landmark event that they once were. IPEX is probably the largest victim of this trend.

Compared to previous IPEX shows, the current installment has a much more intimate setting. The 2014 show occupies two halls, which are only partially filled. The show catalogue features about 350 exhibitors, although many large names are missing. The two exhibitors with the largest booths are Konica Minolta, followed by Fujifilm. Other notable exhibitors offering digital printing equipment include: Domino, Epson, Fujifilm, MGI, Oki, Presstek, RISO, Scodix. Screen, and Xeikon. Leading vendors for finishing equipment with their own booths are: C.P. Bourg, Duplo, Horizon, Lasermax, MB Bäuerle, and Watkiss. There are certainly some interesting gems to be found among other vendors, which InfoTrends will uncover over the next few days. Komori, the only major offset press manufacturer represented here, is the sponsor of the Ecozone, but does not have its own stand. Other manufacturers have an indirect presence via their U.K. distribution partner.

The IPEX organizers have tried to keep up the attractiveness of the event and attendance by printers by introducing a range of panel sessions and educational seminars. Speakers draw heavily from companies not exhibiting such as HP, Kodak, and Landa. Attendance on the first day of IPEX 2014 was nothing like a drupa or an IPEX in the olden days. Still the aisles felt reasonably busy and there was certainly decent traffic at the larger vendors’ booths. Areas with the less well known exhibitors felt a bit deserted though.

IPEX is still more than a pure U.K. trade show, as witnessed by the international background of visitors and a good attendance by the international trade press. At least vendors who announce new products here can be sure of a decent press echo.

So far it is difficult to tell where IPEX is heading. The focus on traditional hardware remains strong and there are no indications it is turning in another direction, such as multimedia. The organizers have already announced the dates for the next IPEX (March 19 to 24, 2018), but they first need to conclude a successful IPEX 2014 before much thought can be given to 2018.

After the show is over InfoTrends will publish its coverage of the important announcements and trends from IPEX 2014 in a separate report that will be available to subscribers or through the InfoTrends report store.

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