trading places


The most significant announcement to come out of the recent Paperworld show in Frankfurt was that the world’s leading office products trade show is coming to America

In many ways there was a feeling of inevitability about it – the world’s biggest OP trade show moving into the world’s biggest OP market. With the original Paperworld show, in Germany, undisputedly the biggest OP event in the world, it seemed to only be a matter of time before it moved on to the US as well.

Up until now, of course (or at least since 1991), the main US trade fair for OP has been the SHOPA show. And while undeniably successful in its time, there have been recent signs that the event needed some fresh impetus.

Hence, a meeting of minds has seen SHOPA band with Paperworld organiser Messe Frankfurt, along with a third party, Spanish OP association Propaper, to form Paperworld USA.

It is being hailed as the first international trade show in the US to cover all aspects of the paper, office supplies and stationery market. Just like other Paperworld events, the new show will be see a broadening of its product range beyond traditional categories in keeping with Messe Frankfurt’s philosophy of "opening up new, highly promising markets for its customers".

While the Paperworld branding has its undoubted appeal for SHOPA, the whole package is seductive. "It goes beyond the brand," says SHOPA president Steve Jacober. "It is also very much Paperworld’s relationships with vendors that span the globe and its expertise in trade show management."

He adds: "The thinking behind our cooperation with Messe Frankfurt is that the role of trade shows, especially in the US, is changing very rapidly. The thinking was to better serve the marketplace and this alliance with Messe Frankfurt is an obvious opportunity to help us achieve this goal. I think Paperworld USA will be a completely different and new show."

It appears to be the proverbial ‘win-win’ situation. Messe Frankfurt’s member of the board of management, Dr Michael Peters, says: "Our basic principal is to establish trade fairs under the same brand name and with the same standard of quality in the most important and promising markets."

But while the logic of having a Paperworld event in the US is sound, it is perhaps a little surprising to learn that it might not have come about at all without the efforts of the venture’s third partner, Spanish association Propaper and its president Eduardo Sanchez Muliterno, whose idea it was in the first place.

On first impressions it might appear a little strange – a Spanish association instigating a US trade show. But then, considering its relationships with nearby Spanish speaking countries, the reasoning becomes clearer.

Jacober explains: "Propaper has very close ties with Latin America. Several years ago we were instrumental in founding the Federation of Office Products Associations, which is a group of all these associations in this part of the world. And because of the language affinity with Spain, Propaper asked to be involved. So we’ve always had a very close relationship and it is not as strange as it appears."

Peters echoes: "Mr Sanchez Muliterno had a clear vision some time ago for a trade fair like this on the American continent. With his close contacts with European manufacturers’ associations, and particularly with those in Latin America, he is our vital ideas man."

It is a move which has received the full support of SHOPA exhibitors. Fiskars’ VP of global brand marketing Anne Bannister is typical in her comment when she says: "SHOPA realises that as an association it must provide a myriad of resources to its constituency and that, like any business, it needed to understand what its core competencies are.

"Having the trade show managed and run by an organisation that does this as its primary business and which brings to the table its breadth of resources (including its database of OP participants) gives the OP industry here the best of both worlds – a world class trade show and an association focused on bringing other value to the industry. I think this is a very good move both for the industry and for the association which supports the industry."

The event will assume the time and venue of the SHOPA 2005 event that was to take place in Las Vegas from 9-11 November. Organisers expect to welcome around 425 exhibitors, approximately three quarters of which are regular SHOPA exhibitors.