Exhibitions - a barometer of the economic outlook

12th of February 2013 Article by Rob den Hertog
Exhibitions - a barometer of the economic outlook

In the exhibition industry there is an old wisdom that says that an exhibition always reflects the economic state of the industry. Writing his latest blog for ECJ, Rob den Hertog - project manager for ISSA/INTERCLEAN - asks if this is true.

It is said that if the market is struggling you will find the exhibition struggling, if the market is booming you will see spectacular growth in the number of exhibitors and visitors.

Recently the 2012 UFI annual exhibition barometer** was published. Will this give us some direction as to what to expect in the coming years?

UFI, the global association for the exhibition industry, reports that Europe and Middle East/Africa which had demonstrated a strong recovery in 2010 and 2011 saw an increasing turnover with an average of 80 per cent of all global exhibition companies increasing their turnover in 2012.

However after spectacular growth in recent years the Asia/Pacific region now anticipates a slowdown in growth levels to the same level as Europe and the Middle East/Africa regions where 60 per cent of companies experience turnover increases.

The slower growth noted in 2012 in the Americas now appears to have reversed itself. The region is showing the highest proportion of companies anticipating an increase in turnover for 2013. The Americas is currently the only region to declare that the impact of the economic crisis on their exhibition business is now behind it.

However in terms of annual profit only four companies out of 10 in all regions have announced an increase of over 10 per cent in profits in 2012.

The UFI exhibition company survey reflects the conclusions in our survey amongst the manufacturers exhibiting at ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam in May last year. Since 2008 Amsterdam RAI incorporates in its survey amongst exhibitors the question: where can the best business expansion in the future can be expected?

And the results of that survey confirm that regions like China/Asia and Turkey became less attractive, however Central and Eastern Europe, South America and Russia are increasing rapidly in the interest of companies, both compared to 2008 and 2010.

Is there an explanation for these results?

In the last few years many companies started expanding their business to Asia. The companies that proved successful have found themselves the perfect partner or established their own subsidiaries with capable Chinese management and are growing their business.

Others - less successful - lost interest in the region and are looking for other more transparent markets. For European manufacturers Eastern Europe is only a five-hour drive and deliveries can be transported by road. Also the culture is more familiar to them and within Europe exporting is less difficult.

As the predicted growth in South America is remarkable and many companies have already experience in doing business with Spanish relations, the expectations in this region are very positive. And as in the past America seems to lead the recovery of the financial crisis which is good news for all of us.

Overlooking all barometers we expect that our exhibitors will further focus their business on Eastern Europe, Russia and even South America. Because the economies there are less affected by the financial crises, and business activities are rapidly increasing and the standard of living and also tourism are picking up. Most of them are considered being great drivers for the cleaning business.

The professional cleaning industry of Eastern Europe meets in Warsaw from April 24-26 during ISSA/INTERCLEAN CEE.

** Full results of the 10th Global Barometer Survey can be freely downloaded at www.ufi.org/research


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