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Peter Mayhew

Ambiente Working and RemanExpo: When Tradeshows Are Full of Surprises

A review of Ambiente Working and RemanExpo in Frankfurt, Germany

Jan 31, 2024 7:00:00 PM


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Attending a tradeshow requires planning. Informed scholars have written thousands of words containing sound advice about how to prepare for one. From stand layout to hall location to interaction with potential prospects, there is plenty of guidance around. Even visitors have help, from what to wear (or not) through navigation to places you must visit without wasting a single step—it’s all at your fingertips. Ambiente at Messe Frankfurt requires all this preparation and more. (My tip: Wear your oldest, most comfortable shoes that you own. Your feet will thank you!)


Ambiente is held at the same time as Christmasworld and Creativeworld, but you’re unlikely to stumble across snowmen or candy canes. The Messe has the Fairground very well organized. It’s a huge event which this year attracted around 100,000 visitors over five days to around 4,000 exhibitor booths set in over 269,000-square meters of exhibition space. This means that being focused is essential. Conveniently, the show is split into four distinct product areas (Dining, Living, Giving, Working), with each offering industry-specific content.


Ambiente Working

The Working product area first appeared in 2023 as a new version of the Paperworld trade show that ran from the early ’90s in Europe until the pandemic (it still continues under the same brand name in several countries around the world). Ambiente Working captures everything associated with the office regardless if work is done at home, full time on-site, or somewhere in between.


Ambiente Working and RemanExpo


Ambiente Working is a response to the changing workspace. Recognizing that offices are repurposing, there were numerous examples of collaboration space design, especially for architects charged with providing one-to-one privacy; team collaboration environments; individual soundproof pods; a place for table tennis, darts, and air hockey; as well as facilities for shopping, dining, and entertainment in a building originally conceived for the open-plan design era.


Office equipment products have also had to adapt to the home office and the mobile worker. Ambiente Working delivered numerous examples of contemporary design with practical functionality. From the humble stapler with added bling through to the multi-colored and ergonomically styled paper shredder, no product group was untouched by creativity. 



For 2024, RemanExpo has expanded and was neatly divided between Congress Centre 1 (where many of the Asian exhibitors gathered, led by Ninestar) and Forum 1, which featured remanufacturers of hardware, supplies, and their associated components. Also in Forum 1 was the hub of the show, the ETIRA Pavilion and the RemanExpo Academy.


Walking the halls of RemanExpo, there were some topics that could not avoid conversation. The most popular was the impending regulation of the office document supplies industry in the European Union. Would the Europe-wide elections delay the Commission’s work? Just how much could be achieved before a new regime took their parliamentary seats? Excellent presentations by the ETIRA General Secretary and President, however, provided some guidance. Clearly, the corridors of European power will be humming with industry lobbyists from all sides seeking to influence the regulatory agenda. 


Artificial intelligence (AI) also did not pass unnoticed—both within the Academy presentations and in the booths. Vendors were discussing how to best implement the technology beyond simple predictive supplies replenishment into the anticipation of service requirements and fleet optimization.


When it came to RemanExpo, however, there were a few surprises that really caught my attention…


Surprise No. 1 was the onstage appearance of Juan Carot, a Senior Project Manager from Brother Industries, (UK) Ltd, who gave an excellent presentation that discussed the journey the company had taken over the last 15+ years to develop facilities in Europe, which allowed them to remanufacture its toner cartridges. An important milestone for Brother was to hit 30 million cartridges remanufactured at the end of 2019. Carot was clear that they have far more ambitions remanufacturing targets in place and are on track to score these goals in the very near future.


The second surprise was seeing a somewhat inconspicuous A3 MFP from the Baltic states in a small booth. This was not any regular-branded copier. As the picture below shows, it was branded Pantum and we learned it is the first from the Chinese OEM’s new manufacturing facilities to arrive in Western Europe. Although not operating at the show (if the print samples are genuine), then the image quality is very high indeed.


Pantum A3 Copier


The final surprise was from Armor with a rebrand for the Print Solutions Division to Altkin. The EMEA-based operation has been acquiring new capabilities in recent years and the rebrand was necessary to bring clarity to its Product, Care, Tech, and Tailored printing portfolio. The Armor name does remain—it’s just too valuable and carries the businesses substantive history. As Armor Group, it finds its place as a corporate “umbrella” brand under which its ribbons, 3D filaments, and battery foil activities also reside.   


Gerwald van der Gijp Announces Altkin


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Although there were causes for optimism in some parts of this particular segment of the office printing industry, recent and aggressive OEM messaging about a commitment to the role of subscriptions was not ignored either. Counter strategies will evolve.


The next stop for the European printing supplies industry will shortly be announced by ETIRA. Expect it to be a very appropriate venue. Will others follow Brother’s lead? Rumor has it another OEM is ready to publicly discuss its remanufacturing achievements to date and its plans for the future. How many more OEMs have actually done the work needed to exploit this trend?


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