The long-standing rivalry between the two French fabric fairs Première Vision and Texworld is far from over. PV is negotiating a capital injection from GL Events and Eurovet and has plans to boost its international business. Texworld, on the other hand, is moving to a new location in the north of Paris and wants to give a new direction to its development. Marie-Hélène Corbin reports.

The two Parisian textile trade fairs Première Vision and Texworld have just closed their latest showcases, but the rivalry between them is far from over.

Première Vision SA, which organises a dozen international textile trade fairs under the Première Vision, Expofil and Indigo brands, is currently negotiating a deal with GL Events, a French service provider for the fairs, and Eurovet, the French organiser of trade fairs such as Tissu Premier, Lyon Mode City and Interfilière.

The proposed partnership, which is due to be finalised in 2007, would see GL Events and Eurovet take a minority interest in the capital of Première Vision SA. The shows themselves, though, will continue to be controlled by the Association Première Vision.

The deal would enable the French textile trade fairs to team up against their adversary Texworld, which, according to its president Michael Scherpe, "will begin to work on its image and will help its exhibitors to follow European trends."

Texworld, organised by Germany's MesseFrankfurt, will take the next step in its development in February 2007 when it moves from CNIT at La Défense, where it was literally bursting at the seams, to the Bourget fairground - which just happens to be located a few stations from Première Vision at Villepinte.

In addition, both fairs will take place at exactly the same time from 20-23 February. There will, however, be a one-day postponement of Texworld due to the Chinese New Year since the Chinese weavers are more numerous exhibitors than the Indians and South Koreans.

Across-town rivalry
Texworld's move is not appreciated by Daniel Faure, president of Première Vision (PV), who for many years has been asking the city's Chamber of Commerce (CCP), owner of the Villepinte and Bourget fairgrounds, to keep PV as the only textile trade fair in the north of Paris.

But the CCP let its subsidiary responsible for the trade fairs business sign the deal with Texworld.

"Our marketing and international efforts are the two biggest budgets of Première Vision. I do not know why we are obliged to provide these services free of charge to other weavers who are competitors of our exhibitors," Faure said, adding that it will not stop PV from continuing its international work.

For Michael Scherpe: "The city of Paris understood that it was important to keep this textile offer. For us it was in our interest as trade fair organisers to see this part of Paris remain strong. And we wanted to ease the flow of visitors."

He describes the recently renovated Le Bourget as: "A mid-size location, which suits the fair, and has good connections with the whole world.

"The building of the booths will be changed, and with 40,000 m² (nearly twice the floorspace at La Défense) dedicated to the fair on the same level, the planning will be more fluid."

The German organiser has no excessive expansion plans. With its 677 exhibitors from 40 countries - 9% more than last year - Texworld will "pause to integrate all its newcomers," Scherpe announced.

He believes the fair has reached its limit in terms of fabric offers, but doesn't rule out growth via complementary products such as accessories and machinery.

The initial flurry of visitors has stabilised, up just 1% to 18,780 over the four days of the fair compared with September 2005. Of these, 60% come from Europe, 15% from Asia and 10% from America.

Scherpe believes Texworld's potential is for between 22,000 and 24,000 visitors.

Many exhibitors expressed their satisfaction with the quality of the visitors, although a few, such as the Turkish Beztas Tekstil, complained the "customers were not there."

The organisers explain this discontent by the fact that "some exhibitors do not follow the fashion and market trends, at least of Europe."

Scherpe explains: "The demand is evolving. Before, visitors were looking for price, nothing but price. Now they are more interested in getting closer partnerships with existing customers.

"For us, the crucial question is to find the right economic model to help our exhibitors to better follow market trends."

A relevant offer
Première Vision is definitely "more inspirational," according to a Tawainese buyer who went to both fairs, particularly with its numerous fashion forums.

While some exhibitors could get to both fairs, like the Belgian denim group Uco Sportswear which last August signed a joint venture with the Indian giant Raymond, others were happy to have moved from Texworld to Première Vision, like the Turkish Isko, the Czech Slezan or the Taiwanese Full Blossom.

Among the 742 exhibitors at this edition of PV there were 26 Japanese, 24 Turkish and 16 South American companies alongside the more numerous Italians (343), French (131) and Spanish (50).

Since 2002 the fair has been open to non-European weavers, but wants to remain selective in its choice of exhibitors. "The reason of our success," Daniel Faure insists.

The number of visitors is stable, according to the organisers, who did not register significant growth from the 46,300 visitors to PV and Expofil in February. The atmosphere was busy in the booths, especially on the second and third days of the fair.

"The mood is getting better in our business nowadays," Daniel Faure affirmed.

This optimism was confirmed by some French companies such as the knitter Bel Maille, the cotton manufacturer Decouvelaere and the wool weaver Jules Tournier.
Some exhibitors, including the Turkish denim weaver Isko and the French sportswear weaver Gailliard, regretted however that the fair took place so late in the season.

Many Italian denim producers were also missing. They have been coaxed to the third edition of Milano Unica, the new fair launched by an association of five Italian textile trade fairs - Ideabiella, Ideacomo, Moda In, Prato Expo and Shirt Avenue. This event took place a week earlier in Milan, attracting 706 exhibitors and 35,544 visitors.

The next edition of Première Vision takes place from 20-23 February 2007 at the Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte.

The next edition of Texworld takes place from 20-23 February 2007 at the Parc des Expositions de Paris Le Bourget.