Last month, the organizers of Ipex announced that the show would be moving to London from Birmingham, where it had run eight consecutive shows over 30 years. According to Trevor Crawford, Director of the Informa Print Group and the show's organizer, "The show was conceived in 1852 in a very different time and has been around for many years. It moved from London to Birmingham in 1980 because it had simply outgrown other venues available in the UK, requiring 100,000 square meters of exhibition space. The NEC in Birmingham was the only space large enough."
Excel London was built about ten years ago, according to Crawford, and last year expanded from 60,000 to 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. "For the first time," he says, "there was a genuine alternative for us to consider. " Crawford and Nick Craig Waller, Marketing Director, spent the better part of the last year consulting, surveying, living with and progressing on negotiations for the venue before deciding to proceed with the move.
Situated in a stunning waterfront location, ExCel London is located in the heart of London's Royal Docks, within easy reach of central London. It is part of a 100-acre campus, including easy access to transportation and with numerous on-site bars and restaurants. "There are six hotels and a seventh planned around the exhibition center within easy walking distance," said Waller. "Beyond that, London Center has 120,000 hotel rooms, compared to 27,000 in Birmingham, so from a lodging perspective, visitors should have no issues."
London City Airport is five minutes away, and travelers can literally walk there. The airport has flights to 40 destinations around the world, including two flights daily from JFK on British Airways.
"On the social front," added Crawford, "one of the problems we had with Birmingham was a disconnect between Birmingham City Center and the convention center. At the end of the show each day, people dispersed back to their hotels or the rail network, and it was difficult to create a social environment around the show. With Ipex coming to London, we have some super opportunities to create a social environment around the exhibition area itself. Canary Wharf, a fairly modern hub that sits in the East of London, can become Ipex City, sort of like drupa does with the Altstadt."
Other highlights of the new venue, according to Crawford, include the opening in September of this year of Westfield Shopping Center, the largest shopping center in Europe. There is also a great deal of investment going into Technology City East, billed as the new Silicon Valley. He adds, "We want to create the best London experience for Ipex visitors, who will have access to all of these amenities as well as exclusive offers, discounts on various activities and more."
The show organizers also plan to widen the landscape of the show beyond commercial printing, trying to attract brand owners, brand managers, marketers and creatives. Crawford believes exhibitors will be happier with the venue as well, not only because of the attributes described above, but also because ExCeL consists of two long halls with 50,000 square feet of exhibit space each. It has many more entrances, and thus, many more prime spots for exhibitors. WiFi and broadband facilities will also be excellent.
It also doesn't hurt that the area is gaining a great deal of investment in connection with the Olympic Games, scheduled for London in the summer of 2012. "Next July," says Crawford, "when the world is watching their TV screens for a month, that is an appetizer for Ipex. The chances are this could be the very best Ipex we have ever run in the 11 years I have been associated with the show, and we are very excited about it."