Vitrum 2007 ended on the triumphant note of record-setting results, with a more than 10% increase in net surface exhibition area and an even more significant increase in the number of exhibitors, up 32.65% overall, with an unbelievable 61.54% increase in non-Italian exhibitors. Confirmation of this solid demonstration of market vitality came in 2008, which got off to a flying start for the glass industry around the globe. Demand was driven higher and higher by the incessant growth of world markets and by the robust expansion demonstrated by emerging economic forces in Eastern Europe and Asia. Then the crash of 2009 forced all, truly all, the professionals in every business sector, practically around the globe, to come to terms with a recession of proportions unheard-of in the last 60 years.
It was a new experience for just about everyone, from corporations to small business owners of all ages and professional levels. Which explains why no one can say for sure what will happen during the next few years, except to note that the first signs of a reversal are starting to appear, pointing to an economic turnaround that is still difficult to decipher.
We’re all arriving at Vitrum 2009 with a strong desire to understand how our world has been transformed by this event, what the consequences of this economic tsunami are for our industry, and above all, what the prospects are for the immediate future. We are well aware that it would be foolhardy to think our problems are over, because it will be years before we can regain the production levels achieved in 2007 or in the first half of 2008. But the trend reversal we are currently experiencing is making it possible for exhibitors to demonstrate that focusing on limited production and product innovation is the best way to get back on the journey that was so abruptly disrupted.
Of course, we expect fewer exhibitors at Vitrum, compared to the 2007 event. But we are extremely pleased to be able to state that the difference is much more limited than what has occurred at other international exhibitions. And it is important to highlight the fact that visitors will, in all likelihood, be paying strict attention and be even more eager to see the innovations presented this year than they have been in the past, motivated by a strong desire to understand what new tools are being offered to them as they resume their journey with renewed enthusiasm.
Would it be correct to say that the crisis had a strengthening effect on the industry and its professionals? Could be. In fact, we hope that’s exactly what has happened. It certainly would be a positive, though very costly, takeaway, because only healthy businesses can generate revenue and prosperity for everyone.