The long-term plan is to develop Pakex and the PPMA Show as a series of complementary events on a three-year cycle - a no frills machinery show for two years followed by a comprehensive packaging exhibition. Both organisers will profit from the initiative, if not evenly.

This historic step will significantly alter the traditional pattern of packaging exhibitions in the UK, providing a far stronger triennial event that will compete with larger mainland European events. The first comprehensive event is scheduled for the spring of 2004.

Whilst the PPMA Board is recommending this new venture unanimously, final approval is expected by the membership at their agm in early December, although a straw poll carried out by Packaging Today International at the PPMA Show last month elicited wide support for the concept.

Graham Hayes, Bradman-Lake’s CeO, was ecstatic. ‘I cannot justify exhibiting at two shows in the UK in any one year, particularly when Bradman Lake has 10 or 11 other shows to consider worldwide.

‘The proposal to stage a comprehensive event every three years is bound to attract a lot more foreign visitors. If I have one reservation, it is that the spirit of the PPMA Show might be lost so we must fight to keep it.’

Autobox sales director Howard Norman-Taylor saw the idea as an excellent flag-waving exercise but was concerned that visitor quality may be a little less focussed.

Raque sales director John Rose had similar misgivings.

Chairman of Lock Inspection Systems Mike Randall also welcomed the changes. “The prospect of two shows in one year has always been a burden for us. “But, whilst the PPMA is a broad church, it must seek to preserve its identity,” he warned.

The venture will be jointly steered by a four-strong executive committee and a single team made up of Reed and PPMA show personnel. When the recommendations are given the green light in December, all three events will be run from Richmond, allowing the PPMA to focus on adding value and services to its membership.

Barbara Jackson – who managed Pakex 92 – will be the driving force behind all three events.

One of Barbara Jackson’s priorities will involve branding for this new packaging family. “Whilst it is a seamless project, there is a need for input from the industry,” she said.

At this stage, it is unclear how the initiative will develop but it would appear to be flexible. “Beyond 2004 the timing and scheduling is up for grabs,” said PPMA president Barry Tucker. “This initiative should help the PPMA to raise its membership to 500 in the next few years.”

The Institute of Packaging, traditional sponsor of Pakex, will support this new venture. Said chief executive John Webb-Jenkins: “I am very encouraged by this new partnership as it resolves a long-standing conflict of interests and allows a unified presentation to industry.”