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Italian conference and exhibition company selects Cape Town as Africa launch pad

Italy’s top conferences and exhibitions company, Fiera Milano S.p.A. (public limited company), has completed the full acquisition of its South African branch, Fiera Milano Exhibitions Africa (FMEA.)

The move will see the multinational company expand its operations in SA and Africa under a new strategy as directed by its newly appointed global CEO, Corrado Peraboni. Responsible for its local implementation will be Maria Chieppa – the newly appointed general manager of FMEA, and former senior executive of the listed Italian entity.

FMEA is also a leading conference organiser in South Africa with the fast-growing Cape Town Art Fair, and the biggest Good Food and Wine Show in Africa, in its portfolio. Chieppa says, “FMEA sees good potential for growth in South Africa. As such, we are making a R10m investment in the 2016 Good Food and Wine show to cement its position as the leading event on the country’s culinary calendar. A further R8m will be invested in the Cape Town Art Fair as we elevate it to world class exhibition levels.”

Each year, the Good Food & Wine Show takes place in three different cities (Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban) to showcase innovations, trends, products and the latest developments in food and beverages, lifestyle gadgets, and appliances. In 2016, FMEA’s multi-million rand investment will be directed at transforming its format and content in collaboration with industry associations for a renewed emphasis on food and wine. Extended exhibition hours and gala dinners will also form part of the new-look show. As before, the latest in world class food and wine products will be on display for the enjoyment of local chefs. The 2016 show dates are:  27 – 29 May in Cape Town; 29 – 31 July in Johannesburg;  and 28 – 30 October in Durban.

From 19 – 21 February, the fourth edition of the Cape Town Art Fair will be hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, which can accommodate the event’s rapidly expanding visitor numbers and international profile. As one of the leading international art fairs on the continent, it will represent more than 50 galleries from South Africa, Africa, and around the world. A new VIP programme will include an exclusive preview on 18 February for special introductions and assistance in the navigation of the range of galleries and projects on show.

Trade shows and exhibitions are powerful marketing tools for host cities and countries and FMEA’s new strategy will ultimately strengthen and support economic growth in South Africa – not only in the promotion of Cape Town, but also through the attraction of international FMEA clients, industry associations, chambers of commerce, and business partners to the region.

Chieppa explains, “South Africa, with its international airports, good infrastructure and currency value, is an attractive destination and we will be very successful in attracting business to the country. At the same time, SA will become Fiera Milano S.p.A.’s springboard into Africa. I have appointed a new management team of experts in their respective fields and we are looking for sustainable local growth, and will also use SA as a base from which to enter sub-Saharan African markets.”

According to Chieppa, Fiera Milano S.p.A. first entered SA in 2012 via a partnership agreement and the recent full acquisition demonstrates the organisation’s long term commitment to the country. “We will continue to expand our local exhibitions and conferences portfolio, and we will be adding business-to-business meetings, and premier international events, to our offering. We are proud of our local history and of showcasing SA as a business destination with much to offer the international community.”

Outgoing FMEA general manager, Heidi Warricker, says, “I really enjoyed working with the industry and am proud of what was achieved during my tenure, including the appearance of some top notch celebrity chefs and the introduction of several exciting new features which were very well received by our audiences. Thank you again for your support and encouragement.”

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