Show Review: Stationery and Office 2008

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Eastern promise

by Andy Braithwaite
The organisers believe it should grow into an international event but the strength of the Stationery and Office show retains its close ties to the Turkish market.

The 14th Stationery and Office show took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 2-6 April at the CNR expo centre, handily located near the city’s international airport.

The event has had relatively little international exposure, but is actually the second largest dedicated stationery and OP show in Europe (after Paperworld) and the fourth largest worldwide. This year exhibitor numbers increased to 220, covering an exhibition space of 350,000 sq ft in three spacious halls, and 22,500 trade visitors attended during the five days.

"I was impressed with the layout of the halls. It was well spaced out and the supporting information and map was useful," noted Daniel Ibsch, global sourcing manager for German vendor Herlitz, who was visiting the show for the first time.

"It’s important for a company like ours to regularly check the potential of European fairs," he continued. A sentiment which was obviously not shared by too many of his peers, as the number of visitors from western Europe was rather limited. However, the event does attract large numbers of visitors from Turkey’s traditional trading partners in the Balkans, former CIS states and, increasingly, Russia.

"The show is certainly geared more towards local wholesalers than international buyers," commented Ibsch. "But we were able to engage in some initial discussions with pre-selected suppliers."

This year, only two non-Turkish companies exhibited at the show in their own right, UK-based Falcon Bags and Egyptian writing instruments manufacturer Yosran.

"There was a lot of interest in our product range," said Falcon’s managing director John Chauhan. "But it is still too early to say if we’ve found a suitable distributor for the Turkish market."

Appealing to a wider international audience is something that show organisers ITE Turkey are keen to develop. "We are planning to launch an initiative next year to attract more foreign companies to develop links to the Turkish market," said project manager Günay Arslan.

Many international brands are already present in the Turkish market through local distributorships or, in some cases, manufacturers’ own subsidiaries. "Turkey is a market which has a lot of potential for us," confirmed Barry Young, international business development manager of Acco’s office products group. "We are fortunate in that we have a strong local partner in Eraysan with whom we have developed extremely sound relations."

Finding the right partner
Finding the right partner is key, and HSM has recently strengthened its ties with Beta Transteknik which has now become the German company’s leading distributor in Turkey. "Beta is a strong player in public sector tenders and this is an important market for our product range," said managing director Dietmar Dengler who was at the show to cement ties with the Beta team and to add weight to HSM’s increased presence at the show and its marketing offensive in Turkey.

Trade shows are an opportunity for companies to launch new products into the market and Stationery and Office is no exception.

Local writing instruments manufacturer Scrikks launched a new brand called ‘Office’ aimed at the mid to lower end of the market. To offer more attractive price points Scrikks has established a 50-50 joint venture with a Far East partner.

Edding’s Turkish subsidiary launched its new Avant Kids brand to complement its Avant Office range and to tap further into a market in which around a third of the population is between the ages of 12 and 24.

Both companies are looking to export these brands into neighbouring countries, too.

The show also saw the very first shipments of Newell Office Products’ Rotring writing instruments to carry the Papermate brand, its first step in a major branding initiative.

Next year’s show has already received a boost after recent developments involving local wholesalers’ shows. Traditionally, regional wholesalers have organised their own events, some of them quite big, bussing in customers. Vendors felt more or less obliged to attend, though many of them were dismayed at the sheer number of these shows and the expense involved, some even accusing the wholesalers of cynically cashing in on hotel commissions and demanding special terms for customers during the events.

The Stationery and Office show has also been suffering from this, as major exhibitors have stayed away to attend local events. However, at a recent meeting of local trade association, Tükid, which backs the national event, vendors agreed to stay away from the wholesaler events, providing a fillip for the show as local players like Servé and Adel are set to return to the Istanbul event in 2009 after being notable absentees in recent years.

The 2009 event is also set to expand its product offering and include office furniture to appeal to a wider exhibitor/visitor base.