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Where is the packaging and printing industry heading towards?
Technology trends include hybrid printing, combining digital and conventional print and finishing technologies. We are also seeing a trend towards shorter runs caused by brands moving to multiple SKUs, personalisation and customisation. These trends will continue. Both packaging and commercial printers are also becoming a one-stop shop for brands, and in response to this, we recently launched our new Brand Print portfolio of events. These will primarily target the wide format printing market, with application areas including posters and banners, POS displays and outdoor graphics. At the same time, the labels and package printing industry is responding to the sustainability debate, so that will be a key focus for us at all our shows.

A few companies have stopped participating in the events and are using the same budget for roadshows and other activities; what is your opinion on this?
We understand the value of roadshows if you want localised penetration in the market. However, in-house events don’t generate new leads or provide access to a wider audience. Our global Labelexpo shows make use of the industry’s biggest printer database to deliver new potential customers to our exhibitors.
From our perspective, roadshows definitely help us promote our own events and provide an insight into the opportunities. For example, for India we found that the 7 Labelexpo India 2018 roadshows we ran only served to hugely accelerate the momentum and awareness for the show itself – 860 people took part in the roadshows, and we even saw large delegations from Bangladesh and Nepal come to the show for the very first time, thanks to the roadshow we ran in Dhaka. Face-to-face is a valuable medium, which complements, not replaces, our Labelexpo shows.

Do you think that the charm of participating in the events has come down?
Absolutely not! The exact opposite in fact. As mentioned in the previous answer, exhibitors and visitors to our shows have access to the whole market under one roof. They are the ideal platform to network, make new contacts, and, for visitors especially, boost their industry knowledge through our conference programmes and masterclasses. In addition, through our award-winning marketing campaigns, exhibitors gain a unique and cost-free publicity opportunity in the run-up to a show that they otherwise would not have access to.
Many of our shows are in emerging markets as this is where key growth is, and interest in these shows is growing massively. India, for example, is a booming market, which is creating a huge opportunity for the labels and package printing industry, with more offset printers diversifying into labels and package printing. We are seeing more and more foreign manufacturers at Labelexpo India and we see that printers are investing in higher value machineries. We’re also seeing greater overseas investment there – for example foreign companies like Nilpeter who have recently set up a factory in Chennai, India. This is a hugely positive development, and a real measure of confidence in the market. Labelexpo India is the biggest show of its kind in the region and a more vital platform than ever before. We experienced our biggest visitor increase ever for our 2018 show in November, at almost 23% on our 2016 event – which is a fantastic result. The rebook rate for our 2020 edition already stands at around 50%.
Similarly, our inaugural Labelexpo Southeast Asia took place earlier this year, one of our most successful event launches to date, with the 2020 event almost sold out immediately following this event. So the popularity of our Labelexpo shows continues to grow across the world.

In your perspective, what is the current market trend in the Gulf region?
Short run digital commercial print service providers are rising. Short run packaging is in its early stages and picking up. We are also seeing trends for digitally printed labels and RFID/NFC/IR - smart labels are in retail.
Early adopters in the region are moving towards digitising their processes, which will take a significant amount of time to research and implement with ROI falling around the 3-4 year mark. Packaging and commercial design agencies are adapting to and promoting more personalised designs to capture the attention particularly of the younger consumer demographic.

Are you planning to do anything different for the upcoming edition of Gulf Print & Pack, which will be beneficial for both the exhibitors and visitors?
A range of special features and live machine demonstrations are planned for Gulf Print & Pack 2019, and we will be giving an update shortly. For more information please see www.gulfprintpack.com.

What are all your plans to attract overseas visitors to Gulf Print & Pack 2019?
Gulf Print & Pack is already a truly international event, it attracted buyers from over 90 countries in the last show. A number of exhibitors at our recent Labelexpo India 2018 are exhibitors at Gulf Print & Pack too. These include Stic-on-Papers, Baumer India, Apex Industries, NBG Printographic Machinery, SMI Coated Products, Spoton Coatings, Diehard Dies, Chemline India, Vinsak, and Rotometrics. Our targeted marketing and PR campaign will start in earnest shortly, which will include visitors as well as exhibitor promotion, and working with international and local media partners.

How satisfied were the exhibitors and visitors in the last edition? Are they meeting their basic objective from the event?
Most definitely! At our 2017 edition, we had 9,237 visitors from 98 countries (60% from the UAE) and 252 exhibitors.  Around 50% of the visitors were interested in digital printing presses and over 45% were interested in offset printing presses. Feedback was resoundingly positive.

What kind of economic growth will the Expo 2020 bring to the printing and packaging industry?
As mentioned, everyone in the region is naturally excited about the possibilities the upcoming World 2020 Expo will create. Millions of people will be visiting the UAE, hence there will be a need for more commercial, labels and package printing, therefore giving the industry a huge lift.
We are supporting World 2020 Expo and planning to have a representative on site at Gulf Print & Pack 2019, which we expect to be a sourcing event across the commercial, labels and package print sectors represented at the show. We are anticipating a huge demand for personalised print pieces, direct mail, wide format posters and advertising, among many other opportunities.

For more information about Gulf Print & Pack 2019, visit www.gulfprintpack.com.