FINAT Congress 2014 was recently held from 5-7 June in picturesque destination, Monte Carlo, Monaco. The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France on three sides; one side borders the Mediterranean Sea. It continues to be an ideal tourist preference. 
The Finat Congress with its theme “The Battle for Shelf Appeal – Winning Strategies for the Label Industry”, attracted many stalwarts of the label industry. Modern day retailing across the world indicates that success in the battle to catch the eye of the consumer is of prime importance. There is an imperative need for the most attractive yet cost effective product decoration solutions. For label printers to excel and stay ahead of competition, they need to be in tune with emerging trends, developments, legislations and customer preferences. They need to take decisions to enhance their own competence as also invest in alternatives to meet the ever growing competition and challenges. Finat endeavors to empower the label printers across the globe. 
FINAT is the world-wide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. It was founded in Paris in 1958, and since then has been representing the whole self-adhesive supply chain. With 600 members in over 50 countries around the world, FINAT has much to offer to label converters and all suppliers to the labeling industry in terms of information exchange and the opportunity to network internationally. Over the years, the FINAT Congress has served as a vehicle for knowledge exchange, networking and inspiration among current and future label business leaders, suppliers, analysts and observers of the self-adhesive supply chain. 
I fondly remember my first Finat Congress at Paris in 2008. It was the year in which YMC was launched and it was also the 50th year celebrations of Finat. It has been a memorable event when I made the maximum number of global Label Friends! That is what a Finat congress does, it brings you in contact with peers around the world. Your vision and connection to the world of labels gets wider. Also unlike label shows, it is not restricted to a single destination and provides an opportunity to label printers to meet at exotic tourist spots in Europe.
Jules Lejeune, Managing Director Finat, while commenting on the Congress says, “Many useful business takeaways under the header 'The Battle for Shelf Appeal – Winning Strategies for the Label Industry'. From the '5 star diagram' of brand appeal (Cartils) to a 360 degrees overview of the label industry in France and Europe, via the future of product decoration in the eyes of the applicators, the mix of packaging and labeling technologies according to the brand industry, going beyond the shelf into 'mass customisation' (Mike Ferrari), helped by A.O. printed electronics (McClelland), right into the 'grand finale' of 3rd generation Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard.”
Andrea Vimercati past president of Finat says, “For me it has been one of the most interesting congress since 2001, my first one in Rhodes. We had high profile speakers and two panels full of ideas for the attendance, especially the one with end users. The Friday night at the Villa was great! All our guests were very surprised by this stunning place. Last but not least the experience of Piccard has left a cherry on the cake. This is the way the Finat Board intends to project the future events, in order to give more bullets to our members so they can help their customers to win the battle for shelf appeal!” Bertrand Piccard, Swiss aeronaut and explorer delivered the Keynote closing address.
With increasing number of exhibitions, events and conferences for labels taking place around the world, Label printers seem to have been stretched as to how much time and money they should spend on travelling to these premium shows around the world. Domestic event organizers in their respective countries also take away a lot of the committed indulgence that printers make in this respect. For this reason we see a decline in the number of printers coming to such events even though there is promise of constructive value in the content. Finat has always been able to offer extremely important content at their congress and thus I feel it is time to restructure the event so as to bring in a bigger number of printers from across the globe. This year ironically the number of printers was quite low as compared to suppliers. The suppliers are bound to get demotivated eventually as it is the printers for whom they invest. Even though the visit to Monte Carlo has been a satisfying experience for Isidore Leiser of Stratus Packaging, France yet he too feels it is time we dwelled on ways to improve attendance. He says, “I found the Congress very interesting and with many interesting topics the atmosphere was very cool. The places were exceptionally beautiful but there was one big thing that was missing is the number of label printers. How can we improve our industry if we, as members of this label printing fraternity are not indulgent and are not involved?”
Lisa Milburn, Managing Director of Labelexpo was at the show with her team along with the Label Guru, Mike Fairley. In her words, “The FINAT Annual Congress 2014 held in Monte Carlo was a great event. We had a wonderful opportunity to meet many industry colleagues and friends in beautiful surroundings. The conference programme was very informative and the signals of positive growth that were shared were extremely encouraging”. 
Jakob Landsberg, Chairman Finat membership committee and Sales director. Nilpeter summed it up as, “Last week FINAT conducted its annual congress in Monaco with 280 visitors from the entire value chain of the PS-industry. The growth in M2 seems to be back to pre crises with +3,5% from 2012 to 2013 – and optimistic projections of +6,4% 2013-2104 Europe wide. The congress was a great success with the theme "Battle for shelf appeal". How can we as the PS-industry help brand owners to create stronger brand awareness and shelf appeal?  The speakers came from sectors downstream in our industry and all expressed the importance in working together for success.  We managed to introduce a new interactive format with top panel participants – they represented application technologies in one panel and brand owners in the other. They both gave positive and inviting feed back to the PS-industry to keep close to them and to keep innovative. I have never seen so many questions from the audience at any congress before. The congress at the same time introduced the new FINAT Radar – a half yearly industry report with trends, statistics and bench mark information – to converters and suppliers members of the organisation. Finally the congress ended at a high with the inspirational speaker Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss pioneer that will fly the world in 2015 in his solar powered airplane, Solar Impulse. His message to all of us: "Welcome to those who believe in the power of dreams and who would like to join me in my exploration of life.  "Think the impossible possible" and "drop your ballast – it doesn't make you happy only heavy". We must all look for ways to improve the quality of the world we hand over to next generations – but same time bear in mind that good sustainability is profitable sustainability”
Gavin Rittmeyer of Martin Automatic USA says"Great Congress in Monaco. Good balance of speakers to inspire ideas for good leadership and practical measures to be creative and effective." Iban Cid of Germark Spain said, "The venue, Monte Carlo! with nice Ferraris but very expensive city! Socially it was very nice to meet all the industry friends. Specially the American's who have joined us. I had the opportunity to celebrate my 50th anniversary with them. In terms of presentations it was one of the best I remember. The most remarkable were the end users panel with L'Oreal, Reckit Benkiser, Lego and a guy of a big US winery. I could summarize it in two sentences: all of them love to have innovations from their label suppliers but they are not willing to pay a penny more for the labels!" Mikael Dahl of Nordvall's Sweden commented, "As usual, a very well organized event and as always it was nice meeting and networking with all friends within the industry. The working program at this year event was a little different to previous ones, in my opinion I must say it was to the better.The panel discussions, was an interesting concept. I think it is a very important issue to improve and engage our industries end users to learn what they think about printers and what they expect we can improve, so that we can do better.This kind of an event is a tremendous opportunity, when all stakeholders in the supply chain are gathered.The grand young man Helmut Schreiner, patriach of Schreiner Group said, "Finat Congress was a great experience. Especially for the Schreiner Group; also because of the number of awards."
Finat Congress is a premier global Label event! Printers worldwide need to congregate in big numbers to draw the benefit of what this unique institution provides. It is a platform that unites the label fraternity to a destination once each year in a fantastic networking environment with no barriers. It brings about the opportunity to interact with and exchange ideas with peers in different countries and explore the possibilities of alliances for mutual benefit. Many a joint ventures internationally owe their origination conceptionally at the Finat congresses. Printers return from Finat Congress with memories of good times lingering their minds. As luck would have it I regret I could not attend the conference this time but it gives me extreme pleasure that my friends missed me at the congress. Steve Katz editor Label and Narrow Web tweeted so. Calvin Frost President Channeled Resources wrote, “Everyone missed you at the Congress and hope you will make it next year” Yes I will make it next year!

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Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India June 2014