On the final day of the IAW in Cologne it was clear: all the high expectations had been fulfilled. Several weeks before the trade fair gates were opened, the display space in Hall 10.2 had been fully booked. The 312 exhibitors from all over the world were pleased by the attendance of approx. 8,500 trade visitors during the course of the three-day event. Thanks to the high attendance, the excellent results of the previous international autumn fair for retail promotions and imports were easily matched. Not surprisingly, Ulrich Zimmermann – organizer and director of Nordwestdeutsche Messegesellschaft Bremen-Hannover mbH – was also satisfied: “It‘s easier to reach a high standard than it is to maintain this level. The figures demonstrate a steady trend and show that our success will continue into the future. I am very pleased, especially as it means that our exhibitors and visitors benefit alike.”
Although in bare statistics the International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports did not exceed previous results, some exhibitors on the 26,000 m² display area identified a clearly positive trend: “The standards of this trade fair continue to improve from year to year. I am astounded by the marked difference in quality compared to other trade fairs. It’s not just a trade event where people simply meet up, it’s a place where business is done and orders are taken”, said Josef Laustroer, member of the HATEX GROUP board of management in Willich. Other exhibitors praised the diversity of the visiting audience, which embraced various target groups from many countries. Tamara in‘t Veld from Topbrands Europe in the Netherlands enthused: “The international character of this event is quite amazing. No other trade fair of its kind can compare in terms of the diversity and quality of the trade audience. It generates many new customers and facilitates networking.” Exhibitors such as Julien Elbaz from CMP, Paris, who took part in the IAW for the first time, were also pleased: “Our customers and suppliers advised us to come to the IAW and we are grateful for what proved to be a very good tip. The organization was perfect and due to the many visitors to our stand we have finally managed to establish a foothold on the markets of Germany and Eastern Europe.”
Many exhibitors addressed the trade demand for autumnal and Christmas merchandise, chiefly gift items, decorative products and toys. Interest was keen. “Especially drones, which are partly toys for grown-up children, remain very popular and demand continues to grow”, explained Matilde Poza, Export Manager of InnovaGoods in Spain. Some very interesting Christmas gifts and other seasonal merchandise were exhibited by Swedish company CELEBRA BRANDS, whose Head of Sales, Michael Straubel, revealed: “During the Christmas trade we find that vibrant and dark colours are a popular choice in wristwatches. Chain bracelets are gaining interest and the trend favours smaller watches again.” Buyers received some good advice from Frank-Wieland Röcher, speaking for Glas-Art, Hilchenbach: “We can no longer identify any single big trend or fashion in Christmas decorations. It is important that buyers respond to smaller niche trends and make sure that products are presented selectively in special displays.” Good store presentation influences the customer’s purchasing behaviour and helps to identify the product as a trend-setter.
The 24th IAW marked the introduction of a new display category: Private Labels. Trade fair organizer Kerstin Manke summed up this experience as being thoroughly positive: “The number of visitors and exhibitors who had conversations about own brands or private labels and, of course, the number of business deals in this segment, was clearly higher than at previous events. In other words, the initiative proved worthwhile.”
Exhibitors showcasing their own brands were given more prominence this time, a fact acknowledged by SILAG Handel AG from Langenfeld. SILAG’s buyer Elke Discheid reported: “As a supplier of own brand products we noted an especially high level of interest in our Route 66 textiles. This is particularly encouraging as in the past we were chiefly associated with hardware.”
The autumn fair saw the IAW Trendseller Product Award bestowed on three innovative kitchen products. First prize went to the company QUICKPACK Haushalt und Hygiene GmbH from Renningen. The winning product is a foil that combines baking paper and aluminium foil, thus reducing the risk of aluminium particles flaking off into the food while not compromising the handiness of conventional foil. The panel of experts selected two other winners, which were announced in Cologne by the head of the jury, business consultant Ulrich Eggert. Second prize went to a three piece set of pans featuring an innovative granite coating, while third prize was awarded for a practical hanging kitchen waste container.
The Trendforum not only served as the ideal venue for the presentation of the awards, but was also an excellent platform for a series of interesting and highly relevant talks. Among the keynote speakers TV presenter Ralf Kühler and Tosin A. David explained how fun could facilitate improved sales, Martina Schimmel from zentrada led a panel discussion on cross-border trading, while Stefan Grimm from Restposten.de (GKS GmbH) moderated a series of talks on e-commerce. Admission to the informative program was free of charge and the offer was greatly appreciated by the trade visitors: As one visitor said: “Actually I only came to the IAW to buy textiles but now I have also received some unexpected training in e-commerce.”
The 25th International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports will take place in Cologne in the coming spring from 7-9 March 2017, together with the trade fair Asia-Pacific Sourcing. More information on past and future IAW fairs can be found at www.iaw-messe.de.