Inside the world of a regional trade show - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

For the first time, PrintExpo 2023 was hosted jointly by Showcase Trade Fairs and Business Media and Messe Frankfurt Asia. The show’s success has been significant. Ashok Neelkant of Showcase Trade Fairs and Raj Manek of Messe Frankfurt Asia break it down, and share their plans for the next show in 2024 with PrintWeek

03 Sep 2023 | By PrintWeek Team

PrintWeek (PW): In what way was the 2023 PrintExpo different from the previously hosted PrintExpo exhibitions in Chennai?
Ashok Neelkant (AN):
 PrintExpo has been known to be South India's largest and the most successful trade show for printing. PrintExpo 2023 was jointly hosted in partnership with Messe Frankfurt India, which was one of the key differences. While PrintExpo has always been a very successful show, building on the success of the 2022 edition, we grew the show by 35%.

PW: Can you share some numbers?
 We are happy to share that this edition has bought 128 exhibitors together who have showcased more than 250 brands and a wide variety of products resulting in attracting 10,528 trade visitors.

PW: One of the unique things about PrintExpo was the value of live events and the advantage of connecting with customers through tech-demos. What is the update on that front?
Raj Manek (RM):
 Showcasing the machinery live means visitors are able to see the products working and can engage with the companies on the technical workings of their machines. This gives a hands-on experience, much the same as test-driving a car before one buys it. At the PrintExpo, there were manufacturers, distributors and agents of pre-press, printing press, print finishing, packaging converting, sign/POP/POS and ancillary equipment and products.

The majority of these exhibitors showcased their products with a live product demonstration to show the process, functionality, speed and quality of output which builds the trust of the potential buyer in the brand. These give tangible proof of the machines, technologies and quality promised by sellers.

PW: Did it translate into business, in terms of confirmed order bookings, for the exhibitors?
Most exhibitors, including Canon India, Xerox, Konica Minolta, Monotech, Suba Solutions, Minosha, Ashwin Enterprises, Hitech Systems PFE, Sharp and Riso, among others, confirmed closing good business during the show. Witnessing the order activity across the three-days, we can estimate that the exhibitors will generate business exceeding Rs 150-crore.

PW: Any product launches? What grabbed your attention?
 I’d like to mention here that Fujifilm India unveiled its four-colour machine Revoria Press EC1100, setting new standards in the printing industry. It also showcased the upgrades to Revoria PC1120, which will benefit photo and album printing companies. The show floor was packed with interesting machinery, tools, components and allied products used in the print industry. What was interesting to see was that several exhibitors launched new products at the show as it directly reached the target market.

PW: What’s your reading of the print business in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states? Are businesses back–up and running – and are senior decision-makers looking to secure their future investments?
PrintExpo has attracted qualified attendees from all across South India and, of course, from several other states pan India. Post-pandemic, renewed enthusiasm and interest have been witnessed in attendees eager to adopt/invest in newer technologies and solutions that would make their business more efficient. The palpable enthusiasm one saw on the PrintExpo 2023 show floor was very encouraging for the printing and packaging sector. As Raj mentioned, numerous deals were signed at the show, and many more will be directly from the connections made at the show in the coming weeks and months.

PW: What is the industry buzz about sustainability? Any specific steps about reducing the environmental impact of a print business that you discerned at PrintExpo?
 Many businesses have increasingly focused on reducing their environmental impact and adopting more sustainable practices. This trend will likely continue and evolve as concerns about climate change and environmental conservation grow. Some steps that printing and packaging businesses have been taking or actively discussing around how to reduce their environmental impact. The show is a platform that encourages buyers and sellers to promote sustainability, and we look forward to such exhibitors at our shows.

PW: What are the dates for the next edition of PrintExpo?
 The next show is scheduled from 22 – 24 August 2024 at Chennai Trade Centre, Tamil Nadu.

PW: These days, print and packaging factories are investing in energy management, carbon foot-printing print operations, sustainability certification schemes, and aquatic and atmospheric pollution control. Do you seen an opportunity here?
 While I cannot predict the future with certainty, the idea of a special zone specifically dedicated to print and packaging focused on energy management, sustainability and environmental impact is interesting. Environmental concerns and sustainability have been gaining significant traction across industries, including print and packaging. Many companies recognise the importance of reducing their carbon footprint, managing energy consumption and implementing sustainable practices to minimise their environmental impact.

PW: Will there be a special zone for this?
 While many exhibitors will showcase substantial products, we will certainly try to reserve a special zone for this category of products/innovations that come our way.

Through our trade fairs, we hope to foster progress in sustainable development and technologies and boost the credibility of processes, products, and systems.

PW: Message for the industry?
 In the last few years, there has been a lot of innovation in the print, packaging and publishing industry. As per studies, it has become evident that these developments revolve closely around cultural phenomenon and consumer behaviour patterns prevalent around given time periods. This segment has always been a very capital-intensive business, and for a long time, the market has been fiercely competitive, too. However, increased automation will play a really important role in the next few years, and that is the direction in which the players will move further. 

(Ashok Neelkant is the managing director, Showcase Trade Fairs And Business Media and Raj Manek is the executive director and Board Member, Messe Frankfurt Asia)