EW looks at how Italy’s expo engine is firing on all cylinders
IEG – Italian Exhibition Group – is certainly not looking back to Covid times and is driving forward an ambitious Industrial Plan 2022-2027 for development of its show portfolios, including internationalisation, digitalisation, investments and more action on sustainability.
IEG’s stated strategic ambition is to act as a Community Catalyst, through events organised in Italy and around the world, in the process supporting the development of client companies as well as that of the sectors that gravitate around the events.
The group is moving forward, closing 2022 with 51 organised or hosted trade fairs and 122 congress events. Revenues were €161.9m (+58% over 2021).
On the domestic market, IEG’s priority is to increase the accessibility and exhibition capacity of its Rimini and Vicenza Expo Centres.
Management says it is continuing to cultivate new events and making acquisitions.
On the international front, through its ‘4x4 Strategy’, IEG aims to export its most successful brands to the four non-European continents via commercial partnerships with global operators and focusing on acquisitions. The aim is two-fold: to grow the presence on foreign markets and develop domestic products internationally.
IEG has achieved its first results on the global stage through its subsidiary IEG Asia. At the beginning of 2023, IEG acquired Café Asia, Sweet and Bakes Asia and Restaurant in Singapore, completing its Food & Beverage portfolio together with the first edition of Sigep China, the latter organised in Shenzhen in partnership with Koelnmesse. All four events were held in May.
The acquisition of the Singapore International Jewelry Expo, meanwhile, will see that event make its debut next July.
The luxury sector had already been a focus of IEG’s expansion strategy in 2022 with the launch of Jewellery, Gem & Technology Dubai, in partnership with Informa Markets. While the Green & Technology sector saw the first edition of Ecomondo Mexico take place in 2021 and then repeated in the following two years, as always in partnership with Deutsche Messe.
In Italy, the Solar Exhibition & Conference and Green Med Symposium events were further additions to the calendar, while the Green Scape and My Plant & Garden brands – the latter the result of acquiring V-Group – are major players.
Sustainability has long been at the heart of IEG’s development strategy, ever since the design and construction of Rimini Expo Centre in 2001, conceived under the banner of low environmental impact. The same criteria were applied when constructing Rimini’s Palacongressi in 2011.
The first environmental certification, ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System Certification – was obtained in 2017 and, since 2018, IEG has been a participant of the UN Global Compact. And in 2022, IEG obtained an ISO 20121 certification for its Ecomondo event and for the Rimini and Vicenza Expo Centres. IEG’s goal is to also certify the Rimini Convention Centre by the end of June.
Last March saw the spin-off of Key Energy, an event that became independent of IEG’s Ecomondo - The Green Technology Expo, with which it had been staged concurrently for 15 years.
The growth of Key Energy and of the event’s core themes, convinced IEG to propose the first stand-alone event with a new format and a new spring-time positioning.
So, the new K.EY - The Energy Transition Expo made its debut in Rimini last March with double the exhibition area and attendance. More than 300 foreign buyers visited, along with 23 International Associations.
“We are confident that strengthening our business model, together with the solidity of our capital and financial structure, will enable us to face the economic and macroeconomic complexities of the times,” says IEG CEO, Corrado Peraboni.
Peraboni noted that IEG’s quarterly figures were extremely positive and signalled a return to profitability. “Turnover in the first quarter of 2023 amounted to €77m against the €38m in 2022, with organic growth in every line of business,” the CEO said.
Peraboni added that, for the past three years, IEG had been collaborating on events abroad, from the Arab Emirates to Mexico, Singapore and China, with global players such as Informa, Deutsche Messe and Koelnmesse. “Our strategic relationships with our colleagues have led us towards a faster than expected recovery for our sector.”