Iberian AV

The Iberian peninsular of Spain and Portugal is a popular tourist destination and enjoys a reputation for its relaxed, even slow, way of life. But does this laid back atmosphere extend to those country’s AV industries?

For its part Spain is certainly not just about sun, sea and sand. The 8th largest economy in the world has recently been described as one of the most dynamic in the EU thanks to its continuing performance in bucking continental trends for slow or non-existant growth and poor employment figures. Particularly in the last two to three years, Spain has enjoyed an excellent economy fuelled by tourism, construction and manufacturing growth.

So, how has this translated into business for the country’s AV market place? One man in a position to comment is Juan Jose Vila , Product Marketing manager at Spanish audio and lighting manufacturer Equipson. The company has an interest in both the entertainment and installation sides of the AV business.

Juan began: “In Spain, as yo uknow, we have enjoyed large improvements in the economic situation. This means that entertainment and our other business areas are now doing well. However the general feeling is that 2007 may not be as big as 2006.

“I think this is for two reasons. One is that people are now in a stabilisation mode. Having made, and spent, a lot of money in 2006, they will consolidate a bit in 2007. Last year was really good for the installation business, particularly in retail. Shops and shopping centres are starting to take more care over their appearance and atmosphere. This has led to some good business for both our LED lighting products and our installed sound.

“The trend towards better shop dressing is really catching on now so I would expect this kind of work to continue into 2007 for integrators.” Spain’s healthy economy is putting more money in her citizen’s pockets and is contributing to competition for it on the high street. A large part of the recent economic growth has been built on the country’s tourism trade. Hotels, bars and restaurants also continue to be good sources of income for integrators according to Vila.

Josep Fouget is Commercial Director of audio distributors Media-Sys. His company sells a number of pro-audio brands in the Spanish market including Beyerdynamic and Kling & Freitag. He’s been enjoying the benefits of Spain’s increased popularity as a venue not just for tourism, but for business.

“Projects such as Feria de Valencia’s new events centre are really boosting our business at the moment. We supplied equipment for two large auditorium’s and numerous conference rooms.” In general Fouget is very positive: “Our strong economy is creating a positive environment for business so things are going very well. I’d say that the market looks excellent for 2007.”

On the video side of the equation lives Eusebio Diaz, General Manager of Kramer Spain: “In the past two or three years, I’ve seen many new installers, integrators and dealers step onto the scene. Whilst this is a sure sign of a healthy market, it has also meant greater competition. Another interesting trend for AV specialists is that the parallel markets of computing, home cinema, and others are opening up for traditional Pro AV products. This is leading to new opportunities.”

As with many other markets, the analogue to digital transition is having a big impact on Spain according to Diaz. Spain is rapidly approaching analogue switch off for it’s broadcast services, which is driving a demand from digital interfaces such as HDMI and DVI across all sectors of the country. “Our scalers and scan converters are also performing very well because of the increased number of different formats in the market these days. In terms of the vertical markets, I think the most important ones for 2007 will be those related to presentation and video projection, with video production also being significant due to the switch to digital broadcasting.”

As Spain’s closest neighbour, the Portuguese economy is linked very strongly to that of its larger cousin. The AV industry here is somewhat less developed than in Spain, being served largely by a large number of small integration specialists in different fields.
One such specialist firm is Porto based Room Dimensions. Luis Xavier is the company’s Sales Manager: “If you ask about the general economy there are two answers. If you read the magazines you will find two opinions. The companies, they are very happy with the economy. But the people, they are unhappy over taxation. I think the economy is pretty stable, and there are good opportunities to do some business.

“Our economy is changing a lot from the traditional manufacturing industry towards a more knowledge based, technical economy and this is causing some pain in unemployment and factory closures, but for us in the technology sector things are good.”

Room Dimensions’ area of specialisation is control and monitoring facilities. Frequently working in partnership with Barco distributor Casa Seras, they have enjoyed success in a number of markets. “A market to keep an eye on soon in Portugal will be IP-TV – Portugal has an excellent broadband infrastructure. We’re optimistic about getting work in service monitoring facilities in a similar fashion to the work we’ve done for cable distribution companies. Another market I think will be interesting is telecommunications. The network operators were amongst the first to use large display walls, but now their facilities are getting older they will need to reinvest and upgrade.”

Whilst Portugal’s economic performance has not been as stellar as that of Spain, it does benefit greatly from a strong trading partner. And if it’s economy continues to move in the same direction then those in the economic know seem to think that the future is rosy. There is a fair amount of cross border work done by both sides. And Juan Jose Vila from Equipson is upbeat about his company’s prospects in Portugal: “I believe that the tourism sector in Portugal is still largely unexploited. Hotels and other tourist venues can provide a lot of opportunity for the installation market.”

Whilst tourism is clearly an important factor in the economies of both countries, there is enough evidence to suggest that it’s no the be all and end all of business. Portugal’s thriving import sector and Spain’s ability to attract business to it’s prestigious international standard venues should stand both in good stead.

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