The inaugural FESPA Africa, formerly Sign Africa, held at Gallagher Convention Centre from 2-4 July 2014, attracted 5460 visitors from Africa, with an 11% increase of attendees from outside South Africa compared to Sign Africa 2013. The exhibition attracted visitors from nearly 40 countries, with the top five countries represented outside of South Africa being Botswana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Exhibitors noted an increase in attendee quality and the statistics confirm this: over 67% of visitors were owners and from senior management and over half had final purchasing authority. ‘Exhibitors also reported onsite sales, quality leads and positive feedback both on the new venue, and overall feel of the event, which contributed to its success,’ said Dyelan Copeland event organiser.

Raymond Waldeck, Managing Director at Antalis South Africa supports this view: ‘The show was very dynamic, there was a great deal of energy and many new technologies were shown. We made many sales at the expo and generated real leads. The quality of the visitors was very high and we interacted with business people from around the African continent, which shows the credibility of the FESPA brand.’

According to Patrick Lacy, CEO of Printing SA, FESPA Africa was the venue for converters and suppliers to meet and explore business opportunities. The PRINTING SA representatives who attended the FESPA Munich Exhibition in May were greatly impressed with the wide range of technology on display and disappointed that so few South Africans were able to attend. The FESPA Africa Exhibition corrected that.

The show was host to educational features for attendees to gain inspiration and learning, which were well received with continual audiences. The Explore Technology Conference delivered 20 sessions covering industry trends, a daily debate and CorelDraw sessions. Attendees could also gain t-shirt printing tips from guru Charlie Taublieb with some hands-on experience to take away a screen printed t-shirt.

The Speedwrap Challenge, delivered by expo Platinum Sponsors Roland and Avery Dennison, was a vibrant feature where Vaughn Repsold from Kacoon Vehicle Branding won the competition, winning a trip to FESPA 2015 in Cologne to take part in the FESPA World Wrap Masters Final for the global title. 

And Grosvenor Branding Solutions won the Rigid Paper Board Challenge, sponsored by Esko, Fujifilm and Re-board, which recognised excellence in point-of-purchase displays, in-store communication, and other imaginative displays.

Lorraine Harrow, Marketing Manager at FESPA, said, ‘It has been a great launch event. We have seen printers from across Africa and speaking with them during the expo has reinforced the reason why FESPA has come to the African continent; through our events we are able to provide regional printers with access to a world class exhibition where they can explore a wide display of innovative technology and listen to educational content to inspire them and their business.’

Exhibition manager, Michael Ryan, continues, ‘We are pleased with the first edition of FESPA Africa and have learned so much in our first year. Exhibitors have given us their feedback and the results are encouraging for next year’s show. Our unique reinvestment programme and unrivalled knowledge of our industry gives us the resources to further strengthen our brand throughout the African continent, attracting even more visitors to FESPA Africa next year.’

Mike Horsten, General Marketing Manager, Mimaki EMEA agrees with this statement: ‘I’m very happy about the FESPA and Africa Print partnership. I think it’s a great step for the African continent to have its own FESPA which addresses the continent’s unique challenges and needs. For Mimaki, it’s really important to be present at FESPA and that is why we were at the expo in full force. We believe in what FESPA does in terms of investing profits from the show into local communities and education for the printing and signage industry.’

‘The FESPA Africa exhibition gave us an excellent opportunity to showcase our products and capabilities to the digital market in Africa. We were very pleased with the numbers of high quality visitors who visited our stand and the number of valuable new contacts we made,’ said Tony Cox, Business manager, Sun Chemical Limited.

‘The show was fantastic! The leads are already paying off and we sold out during the show,’ said Chayce Strydom, Marketing and Support, Modico Africa.

‘We thank the FESPA Africa team for their brilliant organisation of the event. It was a huge success,’ said Neal Oliver, IPEX Machinery. 

‘Arlon Graphics is one of America’s premier producers of vinyl films for the digital imaging, signage, vehicle graphic, automotive and screen printing industries. With Sytech Supplies our first official distributor in South Africa, we have successfully launched Arlon in the national vinyl market this year. The feedback of FESPA visitors on Arlon products and their quality was throughout positive. We are looking forward to a lot of good business in South Africa,’ said Pieter du Plessis, Arlon Graphics Territory Manager South Africa.

Major highlights at the event include: 

Platinum sponsor Roland unveiled the VersaEXPRESS RF-640, which prints up to 48.5sqm/h, approximately twice as fast as the previous model, and is perfect for banner production. From signs and banners to vehicle graphics and wraps of all kinds, the RF-640 delivers exceptional results throughout the longest production runs.

Platinum sponsor Avery Dennison exhibited its Supreme Wrapping Film with new finishes, including a Satin finish in black, white, Carmine Red, Bubblegum Pink and new Blue Chrome. 

Graphix Supply World showcased the latest Fujifilm Acuity F Series and the brand new Mimaki JV300- 130/160, which offers customers greater speed, quality and flexibility and its compact design and affordable price make it an extremely attractive option. 

Midcomp launched the latest HP Latex 300 series. The HP Latex 360, HP Latex 330 and HP Latex 310 help sign shops, quick printers and small to medium PSPs to easily expand large-format printing capabilities, offer new application areas and build a healthier production environment. 

The next FESPA Africa will take place from 22-24 July 2015 at Gallagher Convention Centre.