Drupa has surrendered to the inevitable and postponed the printing industry’s leading show until April next year.
The end came on Friday after a meeting to examine the options, but following a decree from city authorities in Düsseldorf that meetings of more than 1,000 are generally banned, the Messe was unable to justify the wait and see policy that had served until now.
The organiser was under pressure too from exhibitors who need to organise shipment of equipment from around the world. By the end of last week it is understood that they were looking for a clear signal about the future of the show.
The cancellation eases fears about the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, though will leave companies with hefty costs. Most will have committed to hotels, stand designs and have laid out for the space. They have also timed product development to tie in with a launch at Drupa.
This four year development cycle was one of the key reasons for opposition to plans to shift Drupa to a three year cycle announced before Drupa 2016 and amended part way through that show. Few will complain that Drupa, like many sporting events, conferences and exhibitions, has succumbed to action to slow the spread of the virus. In Dussedorf itself there are fears that an Italian style lock down is about to be imposed. The NRW region has suffered more from the disease than any other of Germany’s states, with more than 1,433 cases by Friday afternoon and four deaths.
Armin Laschet, prime minister of the NRW regional parliament, has announced that all trade shows will be cancelled until further notice. Schools are to close from this week, likewise the theatre and cultural events and in nearby Duisberg, weddings have been banned for the duration of the crisis.
The loss of Interpack and Drupa will cause millions of euros in lost revenue to the city and surrounding area. It is reckoned that Drupa brings around €5 million a day through hotel rooms, restaurants, taxi fares and more. The association representing the hospitality industry in the sector issued a plea for understanding: “We appeal to our members and the entire industry to be flexible when it comes to rebooking by exhibitors and visitors. The Düsseldorf trade fairs such as Drupa play an enormously important role for the city, the hotel industry and the catering trade. It would be counterproductive not to show goodwill in this situation.”
And the decision to postpose the exhibition has been welcomed by representatives of exhibiting companies. Drupa president Claus Bolza-Schünemann says: “A postponement of drupa was unavoidable after the latest developments. The decision is therefore right and responsible. Many exhibitors start their logistical preparations middle of March – today's announcement of the postponement enables all those affected to react now, reschedule and prepare for the event date in April 2021. The excitement for 'embrace the future' remains undiminished – also in 2021.”
Dr Markus Heering, managing director of the print and paper technology arm of the VDMA agrees: “The risk of infection would simply be too high at present. We therefore support the decision to postpone the event and look forward to the date next year.”
Heidelberg’s plans for launching new products, like many others, will have these plans disrupted. Nevertheless is is supporting the decision, while pressing ahead with plans to launch introduce the products, working on “an alternative for its customers”.
The Dusseldorf exhibition centre will be silent during June instead of throbbing with visitors coming to Drupa as German authorities take action in the wake of the coronavirus. The show will now take place in April next year.