Bologna postmortem21 November 2005
Despite business conditions being harsh and visitors thin on the ground, tanners who had innovative leathers to offer were pretty much upbeat about Lineapelle. Sadly the same cannot be said for Tanning Tech which was hit by a number of big chemicals companies deciding not to exhibit. This reduced the fair by one hall but it should be borne in mind that last year the fair grew by incorporating Halls 31 and 32, absorbing them from Lineapelle. Rumours abounded at the show, including whether or not two companies would sue another for copying their patented technology. But the biggest story was whether Lineapelle would relocate to Milan next year and whether Tanning Tech would be held on only three days or at all (there has been a suggestion that it be held biennially). Tanning Tech is vital to the leather industry for the proper dissemination of technical advances. It is the only show in the world which offers the opportunity to see demonstrations of machinery modifications and reveal new technology. And it is also possible to combine attendance at the fair with a visit to local tanneries to see the machine in the working environment. As to the relocation of Lineapelle, I think this is unlikely at least for the coming year. The story evolved from the interesting articles contained in the Lineapelle magazine which it is assumed were approved by UNIC. Strongly censorious of the Bologna township, the magazine claims that exorbitant hotel rates, minimum stay clauses, late trains, traffic jams and disinterested service have all combined to deter both exhibitors and short-term visitors from attending the show. Having struggled for years with the infrastructure, many are voting with their feet and staying at home. For years, the organisers have defended the Bologna venue against complaints from the industry but now admit that meetings to discuss these issues began as long ago as when telex was common and emails unheard of. They have a good relationship with Bologna Fiera but feel the greed of the local hoteliers and the casual attitude towards giving service to floods of people entering the town for the shows is giving the message that Bologna businesses care little for Lineapelle and the damage it is suffering. Caught between falling leather business in Europe and the difficulties experienced when staying in Bologna, Unic and Lineapelle are between a rock and a hard place. It would appear that the show's organisers have decided to fight back and have delivered a warning shot across the bows. They will now expect a positive response from Bologna. For Tanning Tech, appropriate action still needs to be decided upon. None of the options open to them are at all pleasant. I believe that the show or one just like it is essential to the industry. Europe is still where the bulk of R&D is carried out and where innovative technology is initiated. Italy still represents the biggest concentration of tanning machinery manufacturers so would be the logical place to site the fair. The size of the machines makes them unsuitable to ship around the world just for show. The closer to home the better it must be. Even then, many of the machines bear labels saying they have already been sold. So when ASSOMAC meet to discuss the situation I wish them courage and wisdom. I can neither predict the outcome nor decide what I think would be the best route to be taken. Hopefully they know their business better than I and are wiser for it. Best of luck ASSOMAC!