Participating sectors largely opposed to participation
Now that additional groups of the sectors involved in trade fairs planned to be held in Cologne in the autumn have reported that they do not intend to take part in trade fairs at this stage of the pandemic, the Koelnmesse Management Board, in close consultation with the Supervisory Board, has decided not to hold events of its own in Cologne till the end of October 2020.
The Mayor of the City of Cologne, Henriette Reker, who is also Chairwoman of the Koelnmesse Supervisory Board, regrets this turn of events: "It was a difficult decision. The team at Koelnmesse brought great dedication to the task of developing ideas and concepts that would carry the trade fair location of Cologne through this crisis. This also includes the hosting of digital events and the development of new trade fair formats. We are taking the concerns of our trade fair partners to heart in hopes that the further course of events will soon give us an opportunity to personally welcome our guests back to Cologne."
Koelnmesse President and Chief Executive Officer Gerald Böse intends to continue on the course he has taken: "We have developed comprehensive packages of measures to ensure our trade fairs are coronavirus-compliant. We continue to firmly believe in the important role of our trade fairs in returning to a steady economic environment. Unfortunately, however, we did not succeed in easing our customers' deep-seated doubts around in-person business meetings in the autumn, and their attitude understandable at the moment. We are well aware of what this serious decision means, not only for us as a company but also for all of Cologne as a business location. All of us, working together here in Cologne, did our best to try to make the re-start a reality. Without adequate levels of participation by exhibitors and visitors, however, this is impossible to achieve."
The following events are affected:
- the garden fair spoga+gafa, 6-8 September 2020
- Kind + Jugend (baby and children's outfitting), 17-20 September 2020
- DMEXCO (digital marketing), 23-24 September 2020
- ORGATEC (leading trade fair for modern working environments), 27-31 October 2020
- and euvend & coffeena (vending and coffee), 29-31 October 2020
INTERMOT, a large motorcycle trade fair open to the general public, had also been scheduled for the same period but had already been cancelled. gamescom will be held in late August as an exclusively digital format. ART COLOGNE and COLOGNE FINE ART & DESIGN, art fairs planned for November, are not affected by the decision.
"Motivated by the outstanding registration levels we had already reached in spring 2020 for events in the autumn, Koelnmesse worked diligently and with the best outlook for successful implementation of the trade fairs beginning in September 2020, once the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia permitted the resumption of trade fairs subject to certain conditions", said Oliver Frese, Management Board member and in charge of trade fair management as Chief Operating Officer at Koelnmesse. Still, in spite of these extensive preparations, in recent weeks customers had expressed ongoing concerns in many intensive conversations, announcing that they would not be attending or even cancelling their participation altogether. "Even in times like these, trade fairs naturally need a certain level of completeness in terms of exhibitors and visitors. Our trade fairs here in Cologne are distinguished by the high internationality of attendees from Europe and around the world. We would have been far from able to ensure this quality." Cancellations by exhibitors were due to concerns about the employees, but also to the economic situation of the companies themselves. The latest news in recent days about new cases of infection in Germany also have played a greater role in this development. Travel restrictions are also still in effect at the intercontinental level.
The first steps towards providing support for the now affected sectors have already begun. From 2021 onwards, spoga+gafa, for instance, as a central order fair, will be moved to June to reflect the business cycles of the garden industry. Like gamescom, DMEXCO 2020 - which was already planned as hybrid event - will be held completely digitally.
Koelnmesse now expects sales and profit losses in the three-digit million range. Gerald Böse: "Restarting trade fairs in Cologne as soon as possible remains eminently important." Levels of equity remains sufficient, however, and liquidity is assured. Koelnmesse will also take further steps to cost savings. "We will continue to fight", says Böse: "for our exhibitors and visitors, for the trade fair sector, for Koelnmesse and for Cologne as a venue for trade fairs and congresses."
Koelnmesse generated more than 400 million euro in revenue worldwide in 2019 and has a workforce of more than 1,000 people. As a city trade fair location in the heart of Europe, it is home to the third-largest trade fair grounds in Germany and ranks among the top ten in the world, with approximately 400,000 m² of hall space and outdoor area. Each year, Koelnmesse organises and manages around 80 trade fairs, guest events and special events in Cologne and in the most important markets all over the world.
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