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Upbeat mood prevails

FOR THE MOMENT anyway, the clouds seemed to have lifted from the industry and there is a sense of optimism about the future. This was clearly evident during PaperWeek. Attendance was up slightly over ...


March 1, 2000
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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FOR THE MOMENT anyway, the clouds seemed to have lifted from the industry and there is a sense of optimism about the future. This was clearly evident during PaperWeek. Attendance was up slightly over 1999 with the largest increase coming in the number of technical delegates to PAPTAC’s 86th annual meeting, from 1218 in 1999 to 1473 in 2000, a 20.9% jump.

Overall, attendance was 11 772 compared to 11 708 in 1999, a 0.5% rise. The decrease came in the number of exhibitors, dropping to 4764 from 4911. It seems that less staff was needed for the booths. The number of visitors to EXFOR also fell slightly, from 5579 to 5535. However, it must be taken into account that most, if not all, technical delegates also visit EXFOR. This would mean that attendance at the exhibit was also up. If the attendance at the CPPA Open Forums is factored in, total attendance was 14,204, a 0.5% jump over the 1999 figure of 14,119.

PAPTAC director Rob Wood was satisfied with the attendance figures but expressed delight with the positive feeling that prevailed. He also was pleased with the amount of positive feedback received about the high quality of the technical presentations.

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With prices for most products on the rise and companies reporting improved earnings, the question is how will the money be spent: improving cash position for future acquisitions, improving debt positions or new capital projects. (See the sidebar by new PAPTAC chairman Richard Foucault.)

If the expected upswing takes place and can be sustained, it would tie in nicely with the expansion of the Palais. Construction is scheduled to begin this month and the work should be totally complete by 2002.

As PaperWeek ended, the news broke of more mega-mergers: Abitibi-Consolidated/Donohue, UPM-Kymmene/Champion and Stora Enso/Consolidated Papers and at press time, St. Laurent Paperboard had been wooed and won by Smurfit-Stone.

Still, to use an apt metaphor, the industry is not out of the woods yet (despite the rise of recycling). Issues of competitiveness, aging facilities, shareholder value and the need to develop more value-added products still need to be addressed. Meetings such as this help speak to these issues. PAPTAC will try to build on the momentum of PaperWeek 2000 to ensure its 87th annual meeting (Montreal, January 29 to February 2, 2001) fulfills the expectations and needs of its members.


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