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The renowned China-based exhibition lasted just four and a half days, instead of five as marketed. This sends a big message to the industry about the Republic – to begin with it is already struggling with declining output. Christel Lee of Print World Asia reports.

China Print is predominantly comparable to drupa and, over the years, it has warranted substantial market attention. However, those who have been watching would notice a steady decline in numbers. The current market situation has not made things better.

Organisers claimed on the show website that they expected to attract 180,000 visitors. This number certainly is massive, however being present on-site it felt otherwise. Booths were spotted empty in spite of company signs erected, while visitor numbers were significantly lower by the tail end of the third day.

The good

It would be fair to say China Print has not quite lost its touch as an international exhibition. The crowd had sprinkles of visitors from India, Thailand, maybe Indonesia. For some, it was a big source of economically-priced equipment – think 'bargain centre'.

For those with business acumen, China Print was an extension of their profit margins. Renowned digital press manufacturer MGI Digital clocked a sale each day. This was the US firm's maiden exposure at China Print. Raymond Pena Jr. commented that for his company's first attempt at Asia, the response has been beyond expectations.

The show was also a big showcase for manroland after the last couple of turbulent years. Ever since Langley Holdings' takeover and overhaul of management, the team has enjoyed some relief. manroland sold at least four machines at China Print as at its second day.

By the fourth day of the event KBA had sold over 21 machines as had Founder Electronics, one of the Republic's most famous digital players. The Beijing-based company, which debuted its latest digital presses, was swarmed by local interest.

Goss International known for its newspaper web presses' dominant market presence targeted three markets: newspapers, books and semi-commercial publications with the Magnum Compact. According to Eric Bell, Goss International marketing director, this combination of automation technologies makes the Magnum Compact press ideal for producing run lengths from as low as 500 copies through to 250,000+.

"Today's cost pressures on printed media mean that printers of every size and variety need to streamline production, reduce overheads, and keep their presses running round-the-clock," commented Bell.

Heidelberg AG and Hewlett Packard booths seemed to be the spots where most visitors congregated.

The bad, and...

One appalling feature was the usage of 'tents' on site! It was said many exhibitors were given the impression their booths would be erected within the concrete building of the exhibition centre. However, three big tents were erected to serve as floor space. Ventilation was powered by generators with inflatable plastic tubes hanging below the roof.

Some exhibitors successfully masked the presence of others with big walls creating a false impression as the end of the hall, effectively resulting in loss of visibility at the show. Those who got the short-end of the stick could only lament they were "placed at the wrong booth".

What made matters worse was the fact that many exhibitors housed in tents were told to dismantle on the fourth day of the exhibition for security reasons. Those in exhibition buildings were told electricity supply would be terminated at 11am on the last day of the exhibition.

Organisers should have exercised more consideration before deploying marshals to send visitors out approaching 5pm. Being asked to leave in the middle of a customer negotiation was a common complaint.

This could lead to a potential uproar accompanied with losses if those asked to leave by marshals happened to be big customers on the verge of a million-dollar deal, although not much hope was pinned on getting compensation from the organiser. It is, however, assumed much damage has warranted a price reduction on space for the next exhibition in order to attract those already-bitten.

The controversial

A big international player surprisingly had a much smaller booth! This company was known to invest in super large floor space to cater to a wide display of equipment. Staff was seen commencing the dismantling of the booth on the fourth day of the show.

One worrying sight nobody could miss was the blatant disregard to safety at a tradeshow where paper predominated throughout the site. Visitors were seen lighting up beside presses despite numerous signs prohibiting the act!

Peddlers stood outside halls selling the China Print catalogue, similar to the thick listing of exhibitors given out complementary with registration last drupa. Buying from these peddlers entitled you to a 50% discount at RMB100 a book, in comparison to buying from the show organiser.

Major exhibitors commented their booths were not ready on the first day and many had to wear masks while last minute work was executed. It would not be surprising to hear that China Print's credibility has been significantly tarnished as a result of the shortcomings experienced by exhibitors and visitors alike.