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CRAZY 2013

A yet another year is set to be over. The printing scenario witnessed sea changes during the last year, with some regions benefitting the most. Though war and conflicts have posed serious challenges, the printing and packaging industry have stood strong and the industry is always on the seek-out for better times. Here we give you a glimpse of the major events covered by ME Printer and the news that had hit headlines in 2013.

A Collective Analysis

ME Printer have always been a vital media source in collecting and conveying marketing trends as well as industry views on key drivers in the printing and packaging industry. Teaming up with Smithers Pira, ME Printer conducted an online survey during early 2012 to track the Middle East print market trends and the potential for digital printing technologies in the region. As part of the project, ME Printer Magazine issued email blasts to its wide customer database to collect information vital for the survey. Smithers Pira on the other hand conducted online analysis through their LinkedIn page and website, and later announced the survey results at the Gulf Print & Pack exhibition 2013.

It’s known that UAE always play center stage in displaying latest innovations and technologies. The Arabplast 2013 was one such event that featured the latest plastic and flexible packaging trends. BASF, an international manufacturer and innovation partner of plastic additives and pigments in association with Al Fajer Information and Services organized Arabplast 2013 in Dubai from January 7 to 10, 2013, which focused on new products and technologies in injection moulding, blow molding, wrapping and packaging, pre and post plastic processing techniques as well as raw materials such as masterbatches, additives and polymers. Companies from around 41 countries participated in the event reflecting the growing importance of this sector in the GCC.

Seasonal Market

Though calendar printing is a seasonal business for printing companies, the income that they derive out of it is huge.

It is estimated that in Middle East alone the calendar business is worth billions of dollars every year. ME Printer Magazine interviewed printers and experts from the advertising industry to know the extent and scope of the calendar market. In our report ‘Did You Get Your New Year Calendar’, we found out that Saudi Arabia topped the list in the Middle East, with an average market of about US$ 300 million.

On an average, companies order a quantity of 10,000 to 100,000 copies of calendars and some even go commercial and put up the calendars for sale. The report further stated how digital technology today plays a vital role in meeting customer requirements, with more demand for short run and print on demand jobs.

Next Stop LFP

Next stop was LFP. With the advancement of digital printing, large format printers can today meet printing demands of all kinds. They offer highest degree of quality, and the investment required to put the technology in to good use doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This has made commercial offset printers aiming for diversification to consider LFP as a viable option to earn more revenue. According to InfoTrends the retail value of digital wide format print will exceed US$ 20 billion by 2015, i.e. a growth rate of more than 7.5%. ME Printer carried out a detailed report, ‘What’s so Attractive About LFP’, on the pros and cons of large format printing and how a thorough knowledge of printing inks and substrates is essential for a successful wide format printing operation. This report was a prelude to the most important LFP related evrnt in the region; SGI 2013.

The 16th edition of Sign and Graphic Imaging Exhibition (SGI 2013) was held with much pomp and galore. A 12 page article cum review was presented by ME Printer with exclusive interviews of top shots from major companies like HP, Canon, Fujifilm, EFI, Mimaki and the like. We gave our readers insight into the major deals that happened during the event and even noted down visitor views on the show.

Significant Partnerships

With the announcement of the ‘Sunshine Project’, Fujifilm and Heidelberg Middle East entered into a new relationship process. ME Printer reported the significant cooperation, which entrusts Heidelberg Middle East to be Fujifilm’s distributor in the Gulf region. The joint venture will be providing all graphic art products of Fujifilm, but as a first step will be including pre-press solutions for the newspaper segment.

There were also significant industry related events in China during 2013. But maybe the most important one was China Print. ME Printer attended the ‘China Print International Media Week’, which was held as a run up to the China Print 2013 exhibition held in Beijing. More than 150 attendees and 20 international trade media from around the world participated at the event. The detailed report, ‘Print Goes East’ drew out the rising importance of China in the world printing arena and the prospects of exhibitor companies and their expectations from the Chinese market.

100 Issues and Many Memories 

The March 2013 issue of ME Printer turned out to be a collector’s issue in all aspects. Celebrating 100th issue, we took much pain and effort in voicing out the opinion of 100 industry players about the future of print media and the value of Arabic as the language of choice in local markets. Print industry experts from around the world shared their experiences with us and gave insight into the future trends and changing technology waves.

Technology in Gold

Donned in gold, the 100 and 101st issue of ME Printer magazine sported the gold printing possibilities of the Kodak Nexpress Fifth Imaging Solution. As part of promoting the gold dry ink, Kodak had collaborated with five different magazines from around the world (which included ME Printer) to create special covers that featured gold effects.

Meanwhile an obituary that caught our attention was the death of Hans Müller, founder of Muller Martini, at the age of 96. He was a pioneer in the printing industry and had constructed the first perfect binder followed by the first saddle stitcher with automatic signature feeders coupled with a three-knife trimmer. With his decease, the world lost a pioneer who shaped the graphic arts industry for decades.

Ups and Downs

Good news and bad news abound during 2013 here are a few of them:

The fifth Canon Insight Report and the first ever Insight Report commissioned by Canon Middle East results were announced and indicated that more than 54% of the organizations surveyed consider print to be more effective than any other type of media. The findings stated that many printers are unaware of the latest technological developments in cross media or the benefits of print-on-demand, web-to-print or customized direct mail. It also stated that only 47 per cent of print buyers are aware of web-to-print services, while 22% have actually used them.

Lüscher AG Maschinenbau based in Gretzenbach, Switzerland hit the headlines when they filed for bankruptcy. The company was into the production of precision machines for prepress operations for electronic imaging of offset and flexographic printing plates and for textile and screen printing.  

Giffin Graphics headquartered in Abu Dhabi with 6 branches across the region celebrated its 35 years of activity in the region. ME Printer through the years have witnessed how the company has evolved to become a major player in the graphic arts industry, representing top manufacturers including KBA, Muller Martini, Agfa and many others.

The 7th Dubai International Print Awards was held at a new venue with newly designed trophies and additional award categories. Held on April 9th, 2013 at Madinat Jumeirah, the event saw the participation of more than 500 printing industry professionals from around 8 countries. A total of 77 winners across 26 categories were awarded with 26 Gold, 26 Silver and 25 Bronze trophies.

Gulf Print and Pack 2013 was the next in the calendar of events attended by ME Printer. More than 9,408 visitors from around 93 countries walked through the show. A special coverage by ME Printer, ‘Industry on the Rebound’ was presented in five segments focusing on the different aspects of Gulf Print and Pack. Though the absence of major players was noticeable the show could pool in impressive figures and deals.

The Central Bank of the UAE and Emirates Investment Authority signed a memorandum of understanding to establish specialized printing and finishing lines to meet the Central Bank’s need of printed currency notes as well as to market whatever surplus capacity in international markets.

Many new operations and investments were made in UAE, which included the opening of a new facility by Gundlach Group, a 165-year-old family-run SME in Germany specialized in packaging printing. The company opened a new facility for the production of tea packaging in Dubai in cooperation with Dubai Multi Commodities center. The factory offers both gravure as well as flexographic printing options for tea tags and tea envelopes.

ME Printer have always focused on bringing out the relevance of regional trade shows and have strived to report all significant events happening in the region. The eighth edition of SIAGRA (International Exhibition of Digital Graphics Art and Packaging) was held successfully at the International Fair of Casablanca, Morocco. More than 25,000 trade visitors attended the show and included workshops and training program on digital printing, colour calibration and finishing.

Meanwhile, the fifth International Printing and Packaging Exhibition, ‘Technoprint 2013’ was held at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Several local and international companies including Xerox, Canon, Heidelberg, Agfa and local agents from the graphic arts segment participated at the event.

Counterfeit product business has sprouted in recent years and companies are bringing in stricter measures to curb this illegal trade. ME Printer reported the largest single seizure of counterfeit HP products in EMEA region to date. The raid, which was held in support of the UAE law enforcement officials have been a huge hit with the company confiscating more than one million fake printer cartridges and components during recent months.

Deals and Discussions

The many major announcement on mega investments infused some sense of hope in region’s graphic arts industry.

The announcement by Abdallah Obeikan, CEO of SIG Combibloc Obeikan on an investment decision of US$ 271.5 million for establishing five factories for packaging in Egypt was announced by ME Printer. The investment decision is expected to boost the Egyptian economy and expand the economic and trade exchange volume between Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

With the signing of new partnership deals with 3 European companies, Emirates Trans Graphics (ETG) based in UAE expanded their product portfolio in packaging, digital and security printing sectors. They signed deals with Rossini as their sole agents in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Riyadh. ETG also entered into cooperation with Uteco-Italy to be their sole distributor in Saudi Arabia. ETG will also be representing Rotatek products in UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Success stories have always been a source of inspiration to the printing community, and we at ME Printer have always brought out such rewarding stories to our readers. One such story that we carried was that of Al Mansoorah Press run by the Kazani brothers. With a humble beginning in 1988, the press today has a monthly turnover of stock running between 600 and 1,000 tonnes and has grown to become one of the largest sheet fed packaging printers in the UAE.

The change of times has brought a direct effect on the printing industry. Positive decisions, both administrative and economical, have boosted investment decisions. Though this is the case, information on the print market is still quite inaccessible. To overcome this and help identify these opportunities, Smithers Pira published a new market study – The Future of Print in the Middle East and North Africa 2018- the details of which was published in ME Printer’s August issue. The report indicated that Saudi Arabia will account for the largest print revenues in the market, while Turkey is expected to lead the market in terms of volume followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Future of Print

The Fespa Hall of Fame 2013 recognizes printers from around the world, and this year Dr. Ahmad Bin Al Hassan Al Shaikh from UAE won the coveted award. There were nominees from over 35 countries worldwide.

Fespa 2013, which was held in London this year, was an exclusively covered event by ME Printer. Our contributing team of editors such as Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth and Sabine Slaughter gave a detailed report on the five day event, which was visited by more than 22,000 visitors.

3D Printing

The Jordan municipal elections generated quite a demand for printed material and created a buzz, wherein candidates spent more than half a billion dollars on advertising alone. As a result, the printing and advertising sector could generate additional revenue and jobs.

Turning the pages of ME Printer, our readers can observe that ever since Kodak declared Chapter 11, ME Printer has been continuously monitoring the company’s decisions and track of growth. In September we reported how Kodak convinced the U.S. Bankruptcy Court as well its creditors of its plan of reorganisation. According to it, from now on Kodak will be focusing on commercial imaging markets, which includes commercial printing, packaging, functional printing and professional services.

Yet another international event was held in Dubai in December – the Global Outlook Conference of RISI (the leading information provider for the global forest products industry), which was held from December 9 – 11 at the Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.

So, what’s all  this buzz about 3D printing? In the September issue, ME Printer carried out the success story of Abaad based in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  The company is the first one in the country to offer state-of-the-art 3D solutions and services including 3D scanning, 3D modelling and 3D printing on a commercial basis. Another interesting story that we carried out in the issue was that of a French architect Guillaume Credoz, whose love for 3D printing and Middle East made him a sought out figure among architects, artists and common people. His Bakery shop in Beirut offers print objects from lamp shades to mugs.

A Host of Events

The Printing and Publishing Group Committee elected its new representatives, which included Mohammed Al Hashimi as Chairman of the group, Zahir Hassan as Vice Chairman and Sebastian Lonth as General Secretary. Activity and bustle was visible not only on the printing group but new investments were also deployed in the market. ME Printer reported the inauguration of Hotpack Packaging industries in its October issue, which boasts of cutting edge technology for competent production, storage and logistics operations. The 350,000 square feet facility located in Dubai Investments Park in Jebel Ali, Dubai was built on an investment of over AED 100 million.

Paper Arabia 2013 held in September 2013 at Dubai convention and exhibition centre attracted more than 7500 people from all over the region and Africa.

The Paperworld networking event, held as a prelude to the actual show which will be held from March 4 to 6, 2014, was attended by more than 100 professionals organizers. Another major event that took place was the FESPA Eurasia, which was held for the first time in Istanbul, Turkey from 3rd to 5th October 2013. The event for wide format printing and signage pooled in an international audience from more than 98 countries out of which 26% visitors were from outside Turkey. The other signage event, which generated interest was the VISCOM Paris held at Paris NordVillepinte. More than 500 brands were represented at the flagship event.

We also reported in November of Gitex becoming more printer-friendly. More companies such as HP, Epson, OKI and others showcased a wide range of new printers and the Jacky’s stand exhibited a 3D printing technology, which turned out to be a crowd puller. The turn of events indicated that the printing industry is poised to become a major attraction in future Gitex shows.

Attending Labelexpo 2013, Sabine A Slaughter gave a first-hand report on the lucrative label market and the latest trends there. The sheer number of machinery at the expo stated that the label market is here to stay and expand. According to Mike Fairley, Director of Strategic Development the labels are expected to grow by 5% while packaging printing will have an 8% growth. He states that the current 46 billion square meters of converted labels with a sales value of US$76.5 billion (2013/2014) are poised to grow to an estimated 51.7 billon square meters in 2015.

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