Organisers are planning the next IMB in 2012

Organisers are planning the next IMB in 2012

Europe is heading for a showdown between two sewn products technology fairs: the long-established IMB and newcomer Texprocess. But one thing is clear, says Niki Tait: there will not be room in Germany, let alone Europe, for both events. 

For the past 30 years, the IMB 'World of Textile Processing' trade show in Cologne, Germany has been the most important international platform for the latest technologies and expertise in processing sewn products.

It has been through its ups and downs over the years of course - as has the industry - but has always adapted to current needs.

During the last few years, for example, the triennial exhibition developed from a technology show related primarily to clothing, to an event covering technology for all sewn products, including technical textiles. This was particularly evident in 2006 and more so in 2009.

Indeed, the last event in 2009 was one of the best IMB exhibitions for several years. So it was a great surprise when the main sponsor, VDMA (the German Garment and Leather Technology Association), just a few days after the end of the show said it was moving its support to a brand new event called Texprocess, which will be run by rival organiser Messe Frankfurt.

In spite of its timing in the midst of the major global recession, 509 companies from 34 countries exhibited at IMB 2009, and around 20,000 trade visitors from 100 nations attended. Nearly all of the world's leading companies were represented.

In the final report from the show Elgar Straub, VDMA managing director, said: "This was what the sector needed: an IMB to demonstrate the sector's innovative power in line with the highest international standards, while serving as the ideal sector meeting place."

Although visitor numbers were down on previous years, this was to be expected during the dramatic economic downturn, although it was almost unanimously agreed that those people who did attend were of an extremely high calibre - the so-called top decision-makers.

New shows planned
Despite the withdrawal of VDMA's long-time support, Koelnmesse intends to carry on with IMB and is planning its next exhibition for 8-11 May 2012 to "reflect the real-world processes within the global textile value-added chain, from sourcing to design and production to the consumer and end user."

In the meantime, IMB Select 2010 will take place in Cologne on 9-10 November 2010. This is a development of the IMB Forum, which began in 2002 and focused on Information Technology for the apparel and other textile processing industries.

Meanwhile, VDMA has instead linked up with Messe Frankfurt, organiser of the successful Techtextil technical textile exhibition, to launch a brand new biennial show called Texprocess. The first such show is planned for 24-27 May 2011 in tandem with Material Vision and Techtextil, and will run every two years.

For Texprocess 2011, Messe Frankfurt hopes for 500 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors. It will feature products ranging from design, cutting, sewing, joining, and embroidery, knitting and finishing to textile logistics and IT, together with an international forum covering sustainability, traceability and environmental protection.

In other words, a direct duplication of IMB.

Fight for space
It is clear there will not be room in Germany, let alone Europe, for both shows. IMB is known in the clothing world as 'THE' international clothing technology show. Techtextil is known internationally as 'THE' technical textile show. The technology for processing sewn products, whether clothing or technical, is similar, supplied mainly by the same companies.

The fact Texprocess is planned for 2011 and IMB for 2012 will give Texprocess a head start in terms of timing. But IMB has the edge in terms of an established reputation.

In the US the situation is different. The main clothing technology show here was The Bobbin Show, run in association with the then magazine of the same name, which was taken over by SPESA, the Sewn Products Equipment and Suppliers of the Americas.

In 2010 Techtextil was run side-by-side with SPESA Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The combination of these two shows proved so successful that by mutual agreement, Messe Frankfurt will take over the running of the SPESA show, rebranding it as Texprocess but running it with the cooperation of SPESA. In other words, this partnership will be a win-win situation of everyone.

In China it is doubtful that in the short term there will be any takeover of the now established China International Sewing Machinery and Accessories Show (CISMA).

However, just as Techtextil is run in different countries, it must be Messe Frankfurt's hope to introduce regional Texprocess shows alongside many of these.