The Big 5 show will be litmus test for industry

The outcome of The Big 5 show this year will reveal the real state of the regional construction industry. Already the show has received a mixed bag of comments from participants. While some feel it’s begun counting its days since it rests on the construction industry’s shoulders, others feel it’s a great platform to meet new people and will only get bigger. The filtering of the global financial crisis into the region has seen many repercussions over the past few weeks including job losses, delayed projects and plummeting shares. „What comes out of the Big 5 will be a reflection of the current state of the industry. The financial crisis is not above anyone and it will affect the Big 5 show at some point,“ said Simplex Infrastructure country director Ani Ray.

„Most of the exhibitors committed to the show before the credit crunch hit, so the Big 5 is lucky the crunch didn’t hit earlier. If things don’t get better in the next three months, the show and the industry will be affected.“ But despite a „drop in visitor numbers“ Ray added that sellers would still come to the show as the market is still the best. But Bernard Walsh, managing director for dmg world media, who is also the organiser of the Big 5, said that the show wanted to grow but it didn’t have the space to do so.

„We’re filled up. We have so many people wanting to get in but we can’t accommodate them. We have the largest German pavilion that Germany has ever had in any show anywhere in the world. And that’s just a small indication of our growth to come.“ But is The Big 5 really the most important exhibition for the construction industry? And will what happens here this week really be a true reflection of the regional construction industry? It seems to be a mixed bag. Chairman of Bahrain-based Nass Construction Group, Samir Nass, whose team will be at the show this year, said he’d never heard of the Big 5 before and was here to see what it was all about. „It’s the first time I have heard about it. We’re going as guests. We want to know what prospects are there and see what benefits we can get,“ he said. The Big 5 claims to be the region’s biggest exhibition related to the construction industry, attracting visitors and exhibitors mainly from the GCC and Asia, the UK and the US. But Oman’s The Wave, Muscat team have certainly heard of the show and have expressed their faith in it and the industry. Iain Liversage, project manager for The Wave said his team was attending the show to expand their supply chain particularly for pre-cast systems.

While some feel the show is important to strike up some deals other feel just being there is important. Tim Richards, divisional manager for Al Laith Scaffolding company who is participating in this year’s show, said the Big 5 was good to „show our face“ to create awareness. He added that it wasn’t hugely valuable as a business getter but was a good platform to meet business friends and create awareness. But air-conditioning company Carrier views the Big 5 as an exhibition with a large number of important visitors. „It is a great place to understand what other companies are up to and what their plans are,“ said Javed Arshad, Carrier general manager. „It is very hard to quantify business that comes out of the exhibition, but we get a number of interested visitors at the stand and we have a team of product experts at the stand to answer questions.“ Over the past few years the Big 5 has grown from strength to strength and is clearly linked to the ongoing construction boom in the region.

Last year, the organiser of the show added the PMV – plant machinery and vehicles – an important and previously lacking section, to the show. Abdul Qader, chairman of Al Wasit Machinery and one of the Big 5 PMV exhibitors, said that the addition of the PMV section to the main event has made it complete. „Big 5 PMV provides a good platform for a construction equipment dealer as decision makers in the construction industry, both local and international, are expected to visit the show. Awareness of the wide product range we offer and potential sales leads generated out of that are the important factors,“ he said.

Source: Conrad Egbert Construcion Week Online, 22.11.2008.