The future of the IMB - World of Textile Processing trade show is hanging in the balance after its major sponsor has decided to back a new fair being launched in two years' time.

The surprise announcement by the German Garment and Leather Technology Association of the Federation of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers (Verband Deutscher Maschinen und Anlagenbau - VDMA), comes just days after it heaped praise on the latest IMB show which took place last week in Cologne.

But VDMA now says it intends to partner Texprocess, an event being launched in Frankfurt in May 2011 alongside Techtextil, the international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens.

Texprocess, which is being organised by Messe Frankfurt, will present machinery, plant, processes and services for manufacturing textiles and other flexible materials.

Crucially, the decision means VDMA members including Dürkopp Adler, Expert Systemtechnik, Ferd Schmetz, Groz-Beckert and Veit are now guaranteed to be at Texprocess.

IMB has taken place in Cologne for the past 35 years, and in its most recent form has been held every three years.

Gerald Böse, chief executive officer of organiser Koelnmesse, said VDMA's "one-sided decision" to end the partnership is "very difficult to understand, especially right now."

Even though both visitor and exhibitor numbers were down - to 20,000 visitors and 509 exhibitors from 25,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors last time - it was generally agreed that the show was a success, particularly against the tough economic backdrop.

However, Böse said yesterday (29 April): "I believe that the event's unique market position as a leading independent European trade fair for textile processing, as well as its worldwide reputation, have now been seriously put at risk."

He added: "We will analyse the new situation together and then make a decision concerning the future of textile processing as a trade fair theme at our exhibition centre in Cologne."

In contrast, the organisers of the new Texprocess show say they believe it will be "the new leading trade fair for the sector," and are targeting 500 exhibitors and around 25,000 visitors from around the world at the inaugural event.

Covering around 80,000 square metres of exhibition space, products on show will include design and cutting, CAD/CAM, distribution, finishing, waste disposal, recycling and environmental protection solutions for garment manufacturers.

Elgar Straub, general manager of VDMA says: "Messe Frankfurt has by far the greatest expertise in organising trade fairs for the entire textile chain.

"Therefore, it makes sense for the leading international trade fair for processing and automation technology for textiles and flexible materials to be held in Frankfurt am Main.

"Increasingly, our technology manufacturers also offer solutions for processing technical textiles and this means that holding the fair in conjunction with Techtextil in Frankfurt will result in an ideal win-win situation for exhibitors and visitors."

As well as Texprocess and Techtextil, Messe Frankfurt's fairs include Intertextile, Texworld, and Interstoff Asia for garment fabrics, Heimtextil for home and contract textiles, and Texcare for laundry and dry-cleaning equipment.

Texprocess will make its debut from 24 to 27 May 2011 in parallel with Techtextil. From then on it will continue every two years alongside Techtextil.