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Event Spotlight

The Print Show 2018

The Print Show is back at the NEC and is bigger and better than ever. Harry Mottram takes a look at the reasons why firms are exhibiting and why it is worth a visit this September

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The Print Show returns to the NEC in Birmingham for 2018, with over 100 exhibitors and an estimated 6,000 visitors

All roads lead to The Print Show

First up, some facts: last year there were 5,335 visitors at The Print Show, with more expected this year. Around 86.1 percent of people will be from printing firms. It is anticipated that around 6,000 visitors will come through the doors this time to visit over 100 exhibitor stands. The Print Show organisers have spent half a million pounds on marketing with a dedicated marketing team bashing the phones, sending the emails and posting the mailers with a 17,000-strong data base to ensure the halls are filled with those involved in all aspects of the printing industry.

IPEX has since thrown in the towel and says it will no longer stage future trade exhibitions leaving The Print Show with a clear run

They include buyers, printers, manufacturers, trainees, apprentices, students, distributors, inventors, journalists, public relations officials and representatives from the paper, pulp, ink, plate-making and chemical industries. Last year’s figures will be smashed, as in 2017 the show went head to head with IPEX meaning the two shows shared the exhibitors with an approximate 50-50 split. IPEX has since thrown in the towel and says it will no longer stage future trade exhibitions leaving The Print Show with a clear run.

Selling show

The event director, Chris Davies says: “Being able to demonstrate your technology, products, and services first hand is the most powerful sales tool there is. You know you are an amazing company, and there is simply no more effective way than face-to-face interaction to convey that message, your passion for the products you sell, and their potential. Since its first year, The Print Show has widely been described as a ‘selling show’. It offers so much to its visitors in terms of value-added content and exhibitor variety that it has become the annual site where thousands of print-service-providers decide on their next investment. Getting in front of them gives you the chance to win that sale. At The Print Show, we also pride ourselves on our personal commitment to our customers, supporting them to ensure a long-term return-on-investment.”

At The Print Show, we also pride ourselves on our personal commitment to our customers, supporting them to ensure a long-term ROI

Take a stand

Why should a firm exhibit? The answer is simple – you will boost business with sales, increase your profile and gather many new contacts and potential customers. After the show ends, exhibitors pour through the contacts they make to follow up enquiries and build new relationships as well as service the orders they have received during the week.

With four years of successful events, The Print Show has built a reputation along with some high-profile fans.
For instance, Bernard Cassidy of Konica Minolta reflects on the show last year. He comments: “It’s been a really good few days for us. We’ve had plenty of positive conversations with new and potential customers, and we’ve had a lot of interest in our new kit.”  Adding to the feel-good factor is Phil McMullin of Epson. He says: “The Print Show is a great showcase for manufacturers and suppliers to communicate directly with print service providers, sharing their latest and greatest innovations.”

Reasons to visit

A major marketing campaign has seen a big rise in the number of stands with most of the big names in the business exhibiting. Antalis; Caslon; Clarity Software; Clinical Print Finishers; CMYUK; Denmaur; Duplo; EFI; Epson; Friedheim; Fujifilm Print; Grafityp; HP; Hybrid; Konica Minolta; Morgana; Perfect Bindery Solutions; Premier Paper; Printers Superstore; Ribbon Writer; Spandex; Trotec; Where The Trade Buys; Xeikon; Xeretec and Z Card to name but a few.

Most of the big names are on show including Epson with lots to kit to inspect

Clearly with so many companies on show (and that is only a small part of the exhibitors while more are being added all the time) it is a perfect chance to investigate the latest print and finishing technology. You can wander the show sourcing new materials, software systems, and trade services – all under one roof. Unlike an open day event at a manufacturer where you cannot escape the hothouse environment the show is an open exhibition allowing you to check out rival firms, see competitors and taste the market at your own pace with no pressure.

The Hybrid stand attracts a lot of interest with the presses running

And with bars, cafés, rest areas and the show’s Park Life zone you can chill out, meet people in peace and generally take a break.  And once refreshed you can attend one of the 30 or more free business seminars and specialist speakers who have new ideas and innovations to share in The Business Seminar Theatre and The Software Training Theatre.

The Printers’ Bazaar is an exhibition within an exhibition bursting with lots of small stands each piled high with samples, ideas and techniques to boost business. Diversification is the name of the game, with numerous potential new revenue streams for printers looking to expand into different areas. Labels, textiles, décor printing, soft signage, t-shirts, badges, stationery, gifts and promotional ideas are just a number of ideas. Inside the Printers’ Bazaar, you will find individual units for speciality print finishing, textile printing products, label printing, print and packaging and promotional print products.

Busy, busy, busy – the exhibition is a place to network and meet up with old friends

One of the most popular attractions is a chance to see how presses of the past were operated in the Traditional Print Masterclass.  Six masters of their craft housed in a recreation of a traditional pre-computer print house will show some the skills of yesteryear, which have now been replaced by automation. There are still some traditional printers that use these methods for prestige work. You can see how bookbinding is still done by hand while there are traditional letterpress and iron hand press printing, not to mention die-cutting and speciality foiling all being demonstrated. The Print Show ardently believes that it is important to celebrate the impressive technological heritage and cultural history and legacy of the UK print industry. It really is a chance to see the past, the present and the future (to borrow a line from the Shangri-Las) of the printing industry.

Masterclass in progress: for younger people there is the fascination of how printing used to be done

The Golden Ticket Prize Draw runs every year and has become a real highlight of The Print Show. Every pre-registered visitor receives a personalised print invitation to the show with a Golden Ticket attached to it. To enter the draw, they just need to bring it to The Print Show and have it scanned on the door. In 2018 there will be more than £9,000 worth of prizes, and every day of The Print Show three lucky visitors will be independently drawn at 12 noon, two o’clock and at 4pm. At the 2017 show, Epson provided a SureColor SC-T5200 large format printer worth £2,300 as the star prize. You could be one of the lucky people who come along to the show to see the printing presses and go home with one as a prize.

The Print Show is not ashamed to say it is a trade show for the UK and Ireland. Visitors from Europe in particular, fly in, and a fair number from around the globe attend, but the vast bulk come from the four corners of the British Isles. With the NEC located in the centre of England, it comes as no surprise that the largest number of visitors in previous years have been from England and Wales with the Midlands and the South heavily represented.

Substantial numbers also attended from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and even far flung Cornwall. After all, with an airport and rail links close by, and motorways all leading to the Birmingham hub of the M5, M6, M42, M54, M40 and M1 it is not too difficult to get to the NEC and back in day.

Media partnership

A key strength of The Print Show is that it is part of the same group that owns Print Monthly magazine which you are reading now of course. The magazine has been, for 25 years, connecting suppliers and manufacturers of print technology, products, and services to UK-based commercial printers. Distributed to 10,500 businesses nationwide, today Print Monthly is the largest and most widely distributed business-to-business trade magazine in the UK print industry, and it plays an important to role in publicising The Print Show and news from its exhibitors.

On top that, The Print Show has secured a number of high-profile partners from the trade press. The event is an open and neutral platform for any media organisation that would like to exhibit or engage with it. The event is ultimately designed to support the print industry and the trade media is vital to this endeavour. The press will attend as always with their cameras, note pads, video cameras and quest to find good stories so exhibitors and visitors alike may find themselves the centre of interest for journalists. As the saying goes, free publicity is good publicity.

The Print Show runs from Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th of September 2018 in Hall 9 of the NEC, the National Exhibition Centre, North Avenue, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT. The show is open from 10am daily and closes at 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and 4pm on Thursday and is free to enter.

O Factoid: It is anticipated that around 6,000 visitors will come through the doors this time to visit over 100 stands O

The National Exhibition Centre is near junction 6 of the M42 motorway and is adjacent to Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International railway station.

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