27th IAW Trade Fair in Cologne with the emphasis on “I” for international


The International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports (IAW) in Cologne – the so-called Spring IAW – closed its gates on 1st March after an impressive three-day display boasting a broad cross-section of products and visitor groups. The Cologne exhibition halls 11.1 and 11.2 were fully booked with 342 exhibitors from all over the world presenting various product segments and occupying a total display area of approx. 30,000 m². They not only showcased their merchandise but also took sales orders.
Trade fair boss Ulrich Zimmermann noted with satisfaction: “With approx. 8,400 trade visitors the IAW has again achieved a good attendance figure. Although the number of participants has not increased, we have seen a qualitative improvement in terms of the range of products and international participation. Attendance at the previous two Spring Fairs benefited from being scheduled alongside parallel events. One thing is certain: The IAW remains Europe’s biggest fair for orders from the trade.”
It might seem self-evident that visitors and exhibitors from various countries should attend an international trade event for retail promotions and imports. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to hear the numerous positive comments from so many exhibitors. “The IAW is very international. We met customers from Russia, Dubai, Iran, in fact from the whole world, including wholesalers, buyers from supermarkets and even a supplier from South Africa”, reported Olaf Peters from FoodFinders.nl from Hilversum in the Netherlands. For Ali Slewane, Managing Director of Ramanco, in Willich, Germany, the international profile is a key reason for taking part: “We only exhibit at the IAW. It is an ideal platform for increasing the international reach and standing of our brands.”
This time, a significant number of companies in the e-commerce sector were represented in the E-Commerce Arena, thus establishing their own small specialist zone. Catharina Lischewski, Key Account Manager with real.digital in Cologne, reported that this was well received by trade visitors, and added: “We experienced a lot of footfall at our stand and it is conceivable that many visitors had previously known nothing about our company. We have seen a large number of buyers at the fair, and we regard this as an extremely positive sign as they are precisely the group of people we were targeting.”
The exhibitors taking part for the first time also reported positive outcomes from their participation in the 27th IAW. Laurent Chaouat, director of Groupe Malo International from Aubervilliers, France, enthused: “This was our first appearance here and we are completely satisfied. Our company already has a strong presence on the French market, but thanks to the IAW we were finally able to acquire international customers. We are looking forward to the next event and will be booking a stand twice as large.” Similarly, John Costi-Mouyia, head of international sales at PMS International in Essex, England, explained: “It’s really great to see every kind of product on offer here and this meant we were able to meet customers from every sector.” He also took the opportunity to disclose an interesting trend for the coming season: “In 2017 it was all about unicorns, but in 2018 the hot trend in cushions and plush toys will be mermaids, pugs and flamingos.”
The highly acclaimed supporting program has long featured talks from renowned speakers and experts in the sector. The program of talks at the 27th IAW spanned the areas of brick-and-mortar and online trade with all its inherent complications. Two platforms – organized respectively by zentrada.network and restposten.de – highlighted developments in e-commerce and retail trade, each attracting a keen and interested audience. Speakers included the e-commerce consultant Adrian Hotz, SEO expert Michael Groß and the psychologist and publisher Markus Väth. A new feature introduced at this IAW was the opportunity for visitors to engage in one-to-one discussions with the e-commerce experts at the zentrada stand on the first day of the event.
The first day of the IAW traditionally sees the IAW Trendseller Product Award, which celebrates outstanding and commercially promising products. The Kids Travel & Play Case from a new company, Cutlope GmbH in Teltow, Germany, was awarded first place. What looks like a big toy car is actually a 20 litre-capacity trolley case. Cutlope managing director Thilo Krause was clearly pleased: “As a new start-up we had visited the trade fair twice to have a look around, and this time we were here as new exhibitors. Naturally we are delighted to have won 1st place in the IAW Trendseller Product Award, and our overall impression of the event was excellent. We are 100 % certain that we will be back next time and with a bigger stand.” The second and third places were awarded respectively to a multi-purpose series of scissors from the British company UP Global Sourcing and a clever car boot organizer from the Dutch company Stayhold.
Trade fair organizer Kerstin Manke commented: “Looking at the figures alone seldom gives a truly accurate picture, thus visitor numbers are only one parameter for measuring the success of the IAW. The decisive thing is whether our exhibitors are satisfied with the quality of the visitors and the level of orders placed during the trade fair. In addition, we managed to get the right balance in our supporting program with respect to the importance attached to brick-and-mortar and online retailing. In general, I am very pleased with the event and look forward to the 28th IAW.”
The 2018 IAW Autumn Fair will take place from 19-21 September (Wednesday to Friday) in Halls 6 and 9 of the Cologne Exhibition Centre. For more information on the International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports visit: www.iaw-messe.de.

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