The historic Alfa Romeo cars were a huge draw and, by striking contrast, so was this year's newsmaker: the captivating 4C. Expectations were high for a positive sign from Vitrum 2013, the year's leading European glass industry trade show.One that could, finally, give proof to the widely-held view that the hopes for a true start to Europe's recovery were well-founded. Let us say up front that the results have not been earthshaking, at least for now. If there is a recovery in progress, and the numbers back it up, it is still extremely hesitant and limited, certainly not strong enough to recoup the losses incurred over the last five horrible years. Nonetheless, the atmosphere at Vitrum was decidedly upbeat.
The numbers can help us bring the panoramic view into focus.
Approximately 20,000 square meters of net exhibit space, 70% of which was occupied by Italian businesses, hosted 349 exhibitors from 28 different countries, led by China and Germany, with Spain and the UK close behind. Slightly down from 2011, the show can actually be perceived as holding its ground, because the big players, those that “make” the market, were all on hand and demonstrated immense vitality through their strategy of ongoing product innovation. Indeed, the influx of visitors was steady, perhaps even greater than expected, with a slight rise in the number of foreign visitors: 9,829 in all. There was a corresponding drop in the number of Italian visitors (9,770 total), a logical consequence of what is likely the most difficult year yet in this interminable crisis that still holds Italy's glass processing industry in its grips. Over all, the approximately 20,000 total admissions prove that the appeal of Italian technology for foreign professionals remains high, and is further evidenced by the significant increase in exports by Gimav member companies during the first seven months of 2013. Hence, an air of cautious optimism hovered over the Fiera, and was also noted by Dino Fenzi, President of Vitrum, who commented: «We were mildly optimistic, with some misgivings, but now we are fairly satisfied. We encountered many foreign customers, truly a lot of people. This event is a must for everyone because the true market is the show itself -- this is where many different perspectives come into focus: the competition, the exchange of ideas and experiences. The exhibition attracts those who plan to renovate their plants and therefore need to buy new machinery; but, to be able to do this, they need the kind of financial liquidity that is still a rare commodity among Italian enterprises».
The idea of pairing Vitrum 2013 with another industry tradeshow was a brilliant success! Mecha-Tronika, the mechatronics exhibition dedicated to electronic and computer engineering technology applied to mechanics, turned out to be the perfect complement to Vitrum. Indeed, visitors -- who could access both shows with a single registration -- showed their pleasure by bringing the overall number of admissions during the four-day event to 29,778.
Another highly popular initiative was the display of historic and modern cars by Alfa Romeo. Launched with the slogan Alfa Romeo - Alive and In Person. An itinerary of Italian excellence, it offered visible proof of Italy's globally-recognized creative and technological abilities that are mirrored perfectly in the inventiveness demonstrated by the glass processing industry. Two distinct worlds -- glass and automobiles -- joined by the kind of tenacity and enthusiasm that have always distinguished Italian manufacturing. But, with an added plus -- a passionate fan base -- easily apparent in the interest shown in the latest Alfa Romeo model, the sporty 4C.