Saturation Point Danger for Tire Shows in Europe

Feb. 20, 2018

With the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show due to take place this month in Las Vegas, which has to be one of (if not the) largest of its kind in the world, I thought it was the perfect time to take a step back and get an overall picture of what is currently happening in the tire show arena in Europe.

Quite simply the best way to describe this highly busy sector of the market would be — chaotic!

Throughout Europe (including the UK) so far this year, there have been at least seven major events in different countries, and that doesn’t include other smaller, more regional shows that tend to concentrate on local markets.

The leading shows for all aspects of the industry (including tire dealers) continue to be the Reifen Show in Germany and Autopromotec in Italy, plus there is the increasingly growing Automechanika show series, which has venues around Europe. However, just to make the situation even more interesting, next May there will be the debut of Tire Cologne in Germany.

At the same time let’s not forget about the internationally famous Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. Although primarily all about new cars, the event additionally incorporates booths by all the leading global tire manufacturers.  And don’t forget about Tire Technology in Germany. So basically there are six large and extensive shows all vying for the industry’s support and attention.

Traditionally in Europe, the biennial Reifen Show in Essen, Germany, has always been considered “the” prime event for the tire market, but now it is going to be directly challenged by Tire Cologne, with both shows competing for attendees and exhibitors in 2018. An all new Reifen Show will now be staged in Frankfurt, Germany, in September, while Tire Cologne will take place in May. So European tire dealers and wholesaler/distributors now face the confusing prospect of deciding whether to exhibit or at least visit two major European tire shows in the space of just five months.Do I think that the industry as a whole will support both shows? No, not really!  I believe that at least some tire companies already are actively looking at the option of deciding which show to attend, either as an exhibitor or visitor, because to visit both events may not be financially logical. Attending a major show can be extremely expensive, so going to two events so close to one another may not appear to be a sensible option to them.

Also, the Automechanika show series continues to gather momentum. Having launched in the UK this year in May, it proved to be highly successful and significantly added to the event’s increasing popularity with its other shows in Europe. In fact, the success of Automechanika UK as well as the Commercial Vehicle (CV) Show, I believe, are the main reasons why a further, third major tire show for the UK in October failed to take place. Tyrexpo UK, as the next stage in the Tyrexpo series in Asia, India and South Africa, was canceled several months ago because of lack of support, as the UK market just could not accommodate yet another high profile event.

Taking everything into consideration, tire shows in Europe seem to be becoming more of a headache than a pleasure these days judging by the comments I have received from various people in the industry, such as, “We obviously want to promote our tires at such events, but the cost of exhibiting is so high that it really isn’t feasible to support more than one, possibly two shows each year.” Or, “The situation with tire shows is becoming impossible as apart from the cost, there just isn’t time to attend so many events.”

I feel that these comments just highlight the mood of increasing frustration in the European industry concerning the competitive edge now developing in tire shows with, as they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”Finally, there is one other point that needs to be addressed: Is “tire show roundabout” in Europe as effective as it used to be in attracting new business sales and partnerships for the future? I have noted that some of the exhibitors and visitors with whom I have spoken and interviewed at some of the recent events believe that a lot of walking and talking at the events can sometimes lead to very little profitability.

Obviously, tire shows will always be a popular meeting point for companies to discuss future business plans with existing and potentially new customers all under one roof. However, I just wonder how the “Tire Fair Season” will pan out in 2018, and I will certainly be keeping a close eye on developments.    ■John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 26 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.

To read more European Notebook columns, see:

An Insight into Tires and Their Problems in Europe

Why Fix Them When You Can Protect Them? AlloyGators, as an example, Protect Wheel RIms

A New 'Groundbreaking' Development in Tire Tread Measurement

Tire Aging Tire Battle Gets Closer to Victory in Europe