Covergence is key to Hometech 2006

Following the success of last year’s inaugural exhibition, Hometech organiser EPOC Messe Frankfurt has outlined ambitious plans to establish the event as a major regional trade show for the consumer electronics and household appliance sectors.

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By  Michael Thorne Published  May 7, 2006

|~|Hudson,-Christopher---EPOC-.gif|~|EPOC Messe Frankfurt GmbH exhibitions director for the UAE, Christopher Hudson|~|Having confirmed a 50% increase in floor space over last year’s exhibition, Hometech 2006 organiser EPOC Messe Frankfurt plans to tap the booming regional consumer electronics market to radically expand the scope and scale of future instalments of the event. More than 8000 trade delegates are expected to descend on the Dubai International Convention Centre (DICC) for this month’s event, which will showcase products and services from more than 250 predominantly international household appliance and electronics manufacturers. Key product categories will include air conditioners, home entertainment systems, audio systems, kitchen and household appliances, white goods and digital home networking technologies. While the exhibition is already the largest event of its kind in the GCC region, EPOC Messe Frankfurt has outlined ambitious expansion plans that should see it transformed into one of the largest annual trade exhibitions in the Middle East. EPOC Messe Frankfurt GmbH exhibitions director for the UAE, Christopher Hudson, believes that such is the booming interest in the consumer electronics sector, Hometech has the potential to become one of the few events capable of filling all 10 halls of the Dubai International Convention Centre once it’s completed. “We are looking to raise the profile of the show to the point that it becomes a viable forum for vendors to launch new products destined for global markets,” he says. “Most of the major vendors launch products in the US, Asia and Europe before the Middle East, but we are trying to convey the message that the Middle East market is becoming so significant that it is viable to launch these products here first.” Hudson explains that while just over 50% of exhibitors involved in this year’s event will consist of household appliance manufacturers, the company is actively seeking to expand the roster of consumer electronics vendors in the future to expand the appeal of the event. He claims this strategy will see subsequent Hometech exhibitions increase in size to encompass five halls of the DICC in 2007, and up to ten in 2008. “Hometech will be one of the biggest exhibitions in Dubai within the next two to three years,” Hudson asserts. “We have an advisory board consisting of key manufacturers that exhibit at the show which includes Bosch, Fisher and General Electric, and we are also working with the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to assess where we can take the show from here. “As an exhibition, Hometech has no serious competition in the region at the moment. Although Gitex is a very successful event in itself, its core IT focus means that it doesn’t really compete with what we are doing.” Hudson says EPOC’s plan is to “develop Hometech into a full-scale consumer electronics show for the entire Middle East”. “This year, 50% to 60% of the exhibition space will be dominated by white goods manufacturers,” he says. “To give you some idea of the scale of our ambition, at next year’s event we expect to maintain the same number of white goods exhibitors, but the exhibition will grow by such an extent that they will only represent 20% of all exhibitors,” he says. “From speaking to distributors and resellers across the Middle East, we believe there is a definite increase in demand for integrated home technology solutions from affluent consumers in the region.” Hudson attributes Hometech’s rapid growth to EPOC Messe Frankfurt’s unique approach to the regional consumer electronics and household appliance sectors. “Our role is to put buyers in touch with sellers,” he explains. “We can only deliver the right sellers if we know who the buyers are so it’s our policy to understand what the market wants and provide an exhibition to match that. It’s easy to attract buyers and developers to the event from the UAE, however the challenge for us is in discovering who will buy products at the show and then re-sell them in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, for example. These are key markets that vendors can service commercially from bases in Dubai.” ||**||International reach|~|Hometech.gif|~|Hometech will feature the latest home-technology products from key vendors|~|EPOC Messe Frankfurt has offices in a host of countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Jordan, Iran and the UAE. It is also represented in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Tunisia and Algeria, and plans to open a new office in Saudi Arabia in the coming year. “We employ people to go into the market and identify buyers. We cannot catch everybody but the process is becoming more efficient and we know that through matching exhibitors with appropriate buyers the show will be a success for all involved,” says Hudson. “This ensures that we get an effective visitor promotion message out from Dubai to the key buyers in the surrounding territories. We are enticing people who would have normally travelled to Europe or Asia for consumer electronics shows to come here instead. “This is why a single exhibition that is completely dedicated to home technology is more attractive to a buyer based in Saudi Arabia, for example, than a show that is more niche in its approach to covering a particular industry,” he explains. In terms of visitors, Saudi Arabia is heavily represented at this year’s event along with Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran and Qatar. According to Hudson, trade visitors from Iran now account for the second largest demographic among attendees at the exhibition and there has also been a huge increase in the number of buyers coming from India and Pakistan as well as a slight increase in those travelling from the CIS. “Growth in trade with the subcontinent all hinges on cost, stock availability and the traditional trading routes with the Gulf. There aren’t any shows of this scale in the region relevant to the consumer electronics and household appliance industries. Traditionally, buyers have attended trade events in South East Asia, but Dubai is geographically closer which makes a visit to Hometech more convenient,” he says. “In an effort to promote the event, we also distribute newsletters to buyers across the region in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and English, which profile the key exhibitors and the products that they will showcase at the exhibition. We also get in contact with key buyers such as Al-Futtaim in the UAE to ensure that they receive special treatment in order to make their experience of the show as fulfilling and convenient as possible,” he explains. In an effort to further expand the appeal of the event and attract a crossover audience, Hometech is staged in conjunction with EPOC Messe Frankfurt’s Kitchen and Bathroom Exhibition. Hudson claims that in respect to the current construction boom occurring across the GCC, property developers are working to develop relationships with new vendor partners to provide items such as washing machines, air conditioning units and other home appliances on a massive scale. “Many developers have been installing fittings and appliances of questionable quality in luxury apartments where people demand better quality items,” he claims. “The Hometech – Kitchen and Bathroom exhibition overlap provides an opportunity for designers and developers to meet consumer electronics and household appliance vendors in one space.” Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently declared that 2006 would see a boom in demand for digital lifestyle accessories, claiming that the convergence of IT and consumer electronics technologies would play a fundamental role in underscoring the emergence of new and innovative products in the sector. This, Hudon says, is the path that Hometech is looking to follow – providing a showcase of technology in an environment where buyers and distributors will be able to discover the latest technological developments and see how they operate in an integrated environment. The format will provide advantages not only to those dealing directly with the trade of consumer electronics goods but also property developers looking for the latest technologies that can be incorporated into modern, networked homes. Hudson reiterates that the construction boom in the Middle East is proving a boon for household appliance vendors and stresses there is a growing resale market in which Dubai has become an increasingly important hub not just for the Middle East but also for the Asian subcontinent and CIS. Hometech is well placed to capitalise on these market trends and turn the spotlight on the booming regional consumer electronics and household appliance markets. ||**||

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