Bauma takes place in Munich every three years and attracts more than half a million visitors from all over the world. All the serious buyers pull out all the stops to attend, and so do all the major manufacturers.
But among the 3,500 exhibitors at Bauma 2019, the familiar site of JCB’s dancing digger display will be missing.
"JCB isn't attending Bauma this year,” the company’ spokesman confirmed.
It is not as though JCB is short of important new products to promote to the world. It has just launched its first ever full electric mini excavator, the 19C-1E, powered by lithium-ion batteries. Then there is its new one-tonne site dumper, the 1T-2, which it claims to be “the safest machine in its class. And there is the new CT260 tandem vibratory roller, increasing productivity and return on investment for road builders".
Nor is it a queston of finances, for a firm that made more than £200m profit in 2017 on £3.3bn turnover.
Rather, the company insists, it is a question purely of business and marketing stratgey.
But given that JCB usually puts on such a prominent display at Bauma, commensurate with the company’s position in the global market place (just see the video from 2016, below), its absence naturally raises eyebrows, given the timing.
Bauma 2019 takes place in the week beginning 8th April, only a week after the UK leaves the European Union. And JCB owner Lord Bamford has been one of the most prominent advocates for, and sponsors of, Brexit.
No British industrialist has been more outspoken in wanting to leave the EU than Lord Bamford. He is the Brexit Baron.
He has handed former Brexit secretary David Davis – a leading Brexiteer – £60,000 in exchange for 20 hours of advice; and he has paid Boris Johnson a reported £10,000 to make a speech in the JCB factory in Rocester last month (pictured below). Both politicians were influential in Britain deciding to leave the EU and were given top Cabinet jobs to make it work. But they both quit half-way through the process without actually achieving anything.
It is not clear what useful advice David Davis might give to JCB. The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) has told him that he is not allowed to tell JCB anything related to Brexit until he has been out of office for a full year, which takes him to 9th July 2019 – still five months away.
Despite the timing, JCB iinsists that its decision to miss Bauma 2019 is unconnected to these Brexit controversies and the decision was taken long ago.
"There has been a trend away from attending large exhibitions towards more personalised, customer focused activities, an approach we first successfully trialled in France in 2015. We are now extending this strategy to Germany in 2019 where we are investing millions of Euros into a programme of direct marketing support that will cover the whole of Germany," the spokesman said. "JCB is also nearing the completion of a brand new €25m headquarters for JCB Germany in Cologne, double the size of its existing facility."
Few regard Bauma as a trade fair just for German buyers. It is the world's fair for construction machinery. In 2016 nearly 240,000 visitors (41% of the total) came from countries other than Germany, according to the organisers, which is what makes it such a big deal, and JCB's decision to swerve it is big news.
And lest there be any doubt about the seriousness with which JCB usually treats Bauma, see this short film that it produced last time.