Middle East widens up

Sign and Graphic Imaging Middle East, one of the region’s premier shows for large format, industrial printing and signage solutions, kicked off on February 6th, with a number of vendors unveiling their products and plans for 2006.

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By  Andy Tillett Published  February 7, 2006

Sign and Graphic Imaging Middle East, one of the region’s premier shows for large format, industrial printing and signage solutions, kicked off on February 6th, with a number of vendors unveiling their products and plans for 2006. The large format printing market proved that it is on an upward curve in the region with a number of vendors moving to new vertical sectors, releasing new products and pledging more investment in the wide format market. A-brands such as Epson, HP, Canon and Oki were out in force at the event and the passageways were brimming with colour, as printouts spilled onto the aisles of the Dubai World Trade Centre. HP chose the Dubai event for the worldwide release of its first large format printers for outdoor printing, reflecting the growth and potential of the Middle East market. HP unveiled its 8000s and 9000s series, developed for HP in an OEM partnership with Japanese firm Seiko I Infotech (SII). Such large formats are aimed at commercial printers dealing in large volume production, but requiring a level of specialisation in their prints. “These printers are at the entry-level in the commercial market. Very specific partners are needed to address this market: customers need hardware, software, consultancy and maintenance. Mainly we will use existing channel partners who have experience with SII or Blaze or we may widen the portfolio of existing partners, and we might also add a few more,” said Thomas Valjak, category manager, imaging and printing group HP Middle East. Canon’s showpiece at Sign and Graphic Imaging was its attempt to break its own record for the largest continuous print from a single file, set last year, with the production of a 57m long graphic. “The show is bigger this year and we are back after doubling our large format sales year-on-year. We have our vendor alliance partners [Raster Image Processor software providers] Dev Studio and high-end scanning solution provider Colortrac with us on the stand,” said Audai Altaie, solution product manager, business solutions department at Canon Middle East. “HP may have expanded its portfolio, but it is doing it through acquisition and OEM agreements, whereas we develop all our own technology. We welcome their competition, but we believe our products have the edge,” he added. Epson, represented through its UAE distribution partner, Almoe Digital Solutions, was at the show to promote awareness of its large format portfolio. “In the last six months we have seen a great deal of knowledge transfer to the customer. We have sold out of most stocks, and won contracts with schools and universities, including Zayed University. Almoe has also leveraged its UAE-wide focus, and won more customers over to large format printing in Ajman and Sharjah,” said Shihab Ahmed Zubair, sales engineer at Almoe. The Middle East sign and graphic show runs until Feb 8th.

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