Dubai, UAE: Paperworld Middle East 2016 concluded in Dubai on an all-time high, as a record turnout of visitors and exhibitors firmly cemented its position as the must-attend trade show for the regional paper, office supplies, and stationery industries.
The three-day event, which took place from 1-3 March at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, attracted 6,832 visitors from 115 countries, 12 per cent up on the previous year, while 305 exhibitors from 36 countries showcased their latest wares, from office supplies, paper, school, party and gift articles, to toys, games, wrapping paper, printer consumables, and arts and craft supplies.
In its 6th edition, Paperworld Middle East 2016 was the ideal platform for exhibitors to sign fresh partnerships or expand into new geographical markets, while others used the show to communicate business growth strategies, launch their latest innovative products, or to stay in tune with industry trends and developments.
Among those striking new deals was Hoshan Pan Gulf (HPG), the Saudi-based distributor of 50 stationery, school and office supply brands, and a regular exhibitor at Paperworld Middle East.
HPG signed an agreement with Arabian Licensing Company, the Middle East licensee of Sesame Workshop – a non-profit organisation and creator of children’s TV programme, Sesame Street.
The newly inked partnership will see HPG distribute its portfolio of school items – including glue sticks, school files, and bags – throughout the Middle East and North Africa, branded with popular Sesame Street characters, such as Elmo, Big Bird, and Ernie.
Abdulrahman Ibrahim, HPG’s CEO, said the partnership was a part of HPG’s strategy to triple its business volume over the next five years, while it was also a move that underlines its new corporate identity that’s committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“We’ve entered this initiative with Sesame Street to support our CSR strategy of getting behind education,” said Ibrahim. “Education is one of the most important aspects to shape the future of this region, and a portion of the royalties from our Sesame Street branded products will go to the Sesame Workshop.”
“It’s important to support education from our point of view because we started more than 50 years ago as a core business in stationery and writing instruments, so we’re very close to the education sector, and need to do more to support its advancement.” he added.
While the majority of companies at Paperworld Middle East 2016 were repeat exhibitors, the annual event was notable for the large amount of high quality international companies participating for the first time.
Among these was Japanese maker of writing instruments Zebra, which was eagerly looking to increase its footprint in the African market with its range of gel tip pens and mechanical pencils.
“We’ve been present in the Middle East now for more than 20 years through our distributors and so we’re looking out for other markets to develop, specifically Africa,” said Terry Miyata, General Manager of Zebra, a company with US$25 million in global sales in 2015.
“We’ve had strong leads from Ghana, Kenya, and Ethiopia that were actually established through Paperworld Middle East’s Business Matchmaking Programme. Our export market is about 40 per cent of our annual turnover, so we’re looking to increase this through Africa, while also strengthening our position in the Middle East.”
Another debut exhibitor at Paperworld Middle East 2016 was Portuguese company Makenotes, which launched in the regional market its stationery and gift articles aimed at high-end retailers and specialist stores.
Miguel Gomes, Business Leader of Makenotes, said the company is aiming to reach sales turnover worth at least 300,000 euros in the Middle East over the next three years: “Established three years ago, the Makenotes concept is fresh, new, and creative,” said Gomes.
“We don’t compete by price; we are selling design and a concept and we believe that this will enable us to get premium price in our products. That’s what we’re bringing – innovative designs where all our collections work together, and which can be personalised.”
Organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Paperworld Middle East 2016 featured seven country pavilions spearheaded by European heavyweights Germany, Italy, and Portugal, while UAE participation was again strong, with 31 exhibitors taking part.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, said: “Exhibitors at Paperworld Middle East 2016 are really thinking outside the box in terms of how they’re approaching the Middle East and African paper, stationery and office supplies market, and it’s exciting to see this week so many new entrants in the market, while existing players are looking at new ways to grow their businesses.
“This is reflective of the evolution of Paperworld Middle East since its inaugural edition in 2011. Exhibitors and visitors view the show as more than just a trade and business platform; it has grown into a real-time information source, which is crucially important in a scenario where global and regional markets are changing very rapidly.”
Dual winners share spotlight at Paperworld Middle East
Aside from three days of busy networking and knowledge sharing, Paperworld Middle East also returned with its highly popular Wrapstar and school recycling competitions.
Armed with a pair of scissors, tape, ribbon and paper, Honey Matias from Harvey Nichols Al Tayer Group, weaved and wrapped her way to victory in the fourth edition of Wrapstar – the UAE’s only gift wrapping competition.
Chosen by popular vote from thousands of visitors at Paperworld Middle East 2016, Matias was crowned the 2016 Wrapstar Champion over eight finalists from four retailers, all of whom transformed ordinary items into a special works of art.
Meanwhile, the Gulf Indian High School won the 2nd Paperworld Recycling Competition for its sculpture based on the Dubai’s Expo 2020 theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’ The winning project came out on top of ten finalists, with its carefully crafted sculpture created entirely from recycled paper and school stationery.
The Paperworld Recycling Competition highlights the importance of recycling in schools, while encouraging school children to showcase their artistic and creative minds to a global audience.
Other features at Paperworld Middle East 2016 included the Green Office Area, a dedicated section for sustainably produced paper and office supplies; and Playworld, presenting regional trade buyers with the world of kids’ toys, games, and children’s lifestyle products.
The 7th edition of Paperworld Middle East will return in March 2017. More information is available at www.paperworldME.com.