In May, Tarsus Group joined a host of UK organisers putting their flags in Turkish sand by acquiring Istanbul Fair Organisation (IFO).
The deal sees the UK-based, listed group pick up 75 per cent of IFO shares for up to £10m in aggregate cash payments. IPO’s portfolio includes the biennial ASANSOR event for the lifts industry; REW, an annual event covering sustainability; and Sign, an annual international event for the visual communications market.
Tarsus MD Doug Emslie said the acquisition is in line with Tarsus’ “Project 50/13” expansion strategy to see 50 per cent of total revenues coming from emerging markets by 2013. It has already identified other local businesses it would like to acquire, Emslie said. The deal between Tarsus and IFO was brokered by Mayfield Media.
“We have always held Turkey to be a market we wanted to expand into, but felt it was only this past year that the timing was right,” Emslie said.
Talk to any UK exhibition organiser of some stature and you’ll find a plan to expand internationally and Turkey is fast becoming top of the list.
Late last year, UBM purchased a 65 per cent stake in Rotaforte and its jewellery fairs. ITE Group is increasingly involved in the region through its E International Exhibitions (EUF) arm and now holds exhibitions across several different industries including construction, building and stationery and office products. And Clarion joined the fray by acquiring Survey Turkey in June 2010.
Turkey’s geo-political position has long made it capable of unlocking the economic potential of Eurasia; the Balkans, Ukraine, Russia, mid-Asia and the Middle East; a region inhabited by more than a billion people. With rumours of a large government-owned venue being mooted for Istanbul, in addition to existing venues CNR and TUYAP, there’s increasing commitment being shown to the exhibition industry.
Turkey is also at the forefront of regional efforts to establish a free trade zone, an ambition that becomes increasingly pertinent as trade routes open with the collapse of dictatorial governments in the Middle East.
“The Turkish economy is projected to grow at a rate of 5 per cent between 2011 and 2013,” Tarsus’ Emslie explained. “Moreover, given Turkey’s unique geographical position on the crossroads between East and West, we believe there is a significant opportunity to develop the existing IFO portfolio into world leading events and bring existing Tarsus assets into this vibrant market.”
It helps that Turkey’s exhibition industry is owned by the private sector, while Government actively promotes trade and investment with neighbours. Additionally, in line with its policy of cooperation, Turkey’s visa diplomacy has removed travel restrictions with countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
“With the country delivering impressive growth figures for many years, it is easy to see why Turkey appeals to exhibitors at international trade events,” ITE Group International sales director Andy Braid said in a statement.
ITE is one of the biggest international organisers in Turkey alongside Germany’s Hannover Messe. Though EUF, ITE is working in partnership with ministries, associations and institutions to co-organise events, but not with other full-time event organisers. Braid pointed out yields are low in Turkey, demand is high and strong relationships matter.
“Turkey is strong in many sectors such as agricultural, manufacturing and business services,” Braid continued. “The mining sector is also strong and while the country is a net importer of oil and gas, it is a major transport hub for hydrocarbons.”
Building, construction, production technologies, textile, automotive, agriculture and food processing industries are among other leading sectors.
At this stage, the majority of events in Turkey are trade events. There are very few consumer shows and according to MD of Mayfield Media, Steve Monnington, Turkey isn’t yet ready for them. “One of the problems Turkey has in creating vertical shows with content is the lack of the combination of good large exhibition space and proper professional conference venues,” he claimed. “I think the demand for the educational elements has been suppressed and people accept what there is right now. And this they do well – go to any exhibition here and you see people on the stands doing real business.”
Clearly, Turkey’s exhibition industry will change dramatically in the next year and UK organisers are the ones to watch.
Internationals in Turkey:
UBM acquired 65 per cent of Rotaforte, organiser of the Istanbul Jewellery Fair.Clarion purchased Survey Turkey, organiser of furniture shows.
Italy’s Bologna Fiere partnered with Ipekulu, organiser of the Beauty Eurasia show.
Messe Stuttgart acquired a majority stake in ARES and its bakery tech event IBATECH.
Munich Messe struck an alliance with EKO, which runs a transport and logistics show.
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