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SHOW 15t's not easy for a brand to remain relevant in the market for 25 years, but Sign & Digital UK has managed to do just that. The Birmingham-based show, launched by Miller Freeman in 1987, was acquired by Faversham House Group in 2000 and has been steadily growing over the last decade. First branded Sign UK, the organiser incorporated digital into its branding in 2007 to reflect the changing practices of its industry and has also added an Irish edition to its portfolio.Last year's UK exhibition reported a 22 per cent visitor increase to 6,756 and was buoyed by the launch of the Sign & Digital UK Awards, a new platform to recognise creative achievement across the printing and wide format industries. The 25th edition returns to The NEC from 27 to 29 March with several new and returning features plus a new-look website.Sign & Digital UK event director Rudi Blackett put its success down to the organiser's ability to listen to industry needs and adapt content accordingly. He pointed out the exhibition has a longstanding retention of exhibitors and visitors."As organisers, we have to ensure the show delivers the following three key elements each year: The show has to be the annual showcase for new technologies and product launches, the best place to source, compare and buy products, and have the essential mix of advice, knowledge and networking," Blackett explained. "It's a fast-moving industry so we have to keep pace with developments and focus on what visitors need to drive their businesses forward. It is about keeping at the cutting-edge of developments."To achieve this, Faversham has increased the number of hands-on demo areas, advice clinics and increasingly engaged exhibitors with these features. "In addition, we have concentrated on bringing high quality visitors with buying power to the show," Blackett said. "Visitors need to know the show will benefit their businesses and expect this, so we have focused the show very much as a 'find out how to grow your business' type of event, more than a social event as in the past."It hasn't all been smooth sailing. Faversham was forced to postpone the Irish edition of Sign & Digital in 2010 following that country's economic collapse. However, plans have now been confirmed for the show's return to Dublin in October alongside the Print Ireland event. Marking 25 yearsTo mark its 25th anniversary this year, Sign & Digital UK 2012 will host an historical gallery on the show floor illustrating the history of the signmaking industry. The gallery will cover signmaking products and equipment from the last quarter of a century and include images of industry luminaries and game-changers. Another key feature will be the green trail, highlighting eco-friendly or more ethical products. About 150 exhibitors are expected this year, at least one third new."There are growth areas we are particularly focused on such as textile printing and soft signage, LEDs, green products and finishing systems," Blackett added.Faversham is also exploring other avenues to address emerging industry trends and will launch an exhibition specifically for the commercial print sector at The NEC in September. Digital Print UK will focus on the growing use of digital technologies for printing. Blackett said Digital Print will employ the formula that enables Sign & Digital UK to be a meeting place for the signmaking and wide format industries. "Digital Print UK is focused on a parallel market to the wide format printing market that is a key element of Sign & Digital UK," he said. "We have seen an opportunity to use the successful model that we employ for Sign & Digital UK to develop an annual commercial printing show at The NEC. "These market sectors are coming closer together but we plan to establish Digital Print UK as a separate brand with its own identity." With this combination of old and new, Faversham is confident it has the printing sector signed up for the next 25 years.Sign & Digital UK is celebrating a quarter of a century this year. EN caught up with the exhibition's director to find out how the show continues to hit the right buttonsiSign of the timeS+44 (0) 20 8545 2492 Safe hands for your Safety Officers and Consultants . Event Safety & Evacuation Planning . Risk Assessments & Method Statements . Stand Approvals . H&S Officers . Floor Managers . Security . Stewarding . On-site support staff . Worldwide, Indoor and Outdoor EventsComplementary Digital Print UK to launch in 2012Show re-branded as Sign & Digital UK20072011??Digital expo is launched as a co-located show to Sign UKSign UK launched by Miller FreemanFaversham House Group acquires Sign UKFaversham launches Sign & Digital Ireland19872000 20012003????

INTERVIEW16 did you get into exhibitions?I started in sales when I was 20 with B2B publishing company Morgan-Grampian. After a couple of years, I decided I could do it better by changing the way we published magazines, so I started my own company with a colleague. We set up ETP in a converted pigsty near Essex and launched a bunch of B2B, design-led titles and did extremely well for a couple of kids. One of those was FX Magazine. The best thing about it is many are still around. We sold to a company called Wilmington, a big PLC, as it's quite hard to grow in publishing because banks never value magazines as an asset. I ended up running Wilmington after six years. We did everything from interior design to dairy products, nuclear engineering and even a wine magazine. This led us into launching awards events, which we found were a good way of generating revenue. I left Wilmington to set-up Media 10. One of our first projects was Grand Designs magazine with Channel 4. It was a big success and Channel 4's first magazine launch. We knew the magazine was right, and along with Kevin McCloud, we believed an exhibition would work. We told Channel 4 we were experts in running exhibitions as well, and whether they believed us or not, we got the rights to launch Grand Designs Live. what was the catalyst for Media 10?I had always run my own businesses and built up a loyal base of friends and colleagues that worked well together. Media 10 was a chance to do what we wanted to do without the shackles of a PLC. We'd also all got fed up with being told we couldn't do something because it wasn't in the 'plan', then watch someone else do it a few years later and make it a big success. There are 10 directors in the business, hence the name.what is the cornerstone of your approach?We have done everything opposite to the way most people do things. With Grand Designs Live we launched a big show, rather than a small show, and at Excel, rather than Earls Court, Olympia or Birmingham. At the time Excel was new, didn't have a lot of shows and many had failed, although this was more due to many shows failing in the UK and organisers putting their brands into Excel in a last attempt to revive them. Kevin Murphy [Excel chief] also gave us a free hand to use the site as we wanted to. And we did - apart from a putting on a big show, we built a house outside it from scratch, live, during the three days. We estimated we'd get 40,000 in three days and we got 44,000, so we knew we were doing something right. what's Media 10's overall philosophy?The day we get a plan, we're going to be in trouble. The whole basis of Media 10 is to do what we are doing today, and if we change direction tomorrow, it's our decision and there's no one else to worry about or upset. People who work for us have realised that if you have a good idea, it can happen here really quickly. Also, we can stop the idea immediately if it's a bad idea after all. I did get to a point where I realised profit is the main objective. You can find yourself in a large PLC running something at a loss just because they don't want to let it go, or because it'll look bad. At Media 10, we don't care what it looks like, we'll do it because it's the right thing and you'll always come out on top that way. This is because we're set-up to react to the latest bit of information. Some businesses ignore the things that would make them change direction because changing We'll do hMedia 10 Md lee Newton is a man without a plan but with a clear mission. He talks to EN about the company's foundations, making the brand king and the Ideal Home Show's international potentialIt our Way