A golden autumn and the green shoots of business growth – new trends at the 26th IAW Trade Fair


The 26th International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports (IAW) closed on 22 September on a high note with 10 % more exhibitors than at the autumn event last year.  Halls 6 and 9 at the Cologne Exhibition Centre saw 348 international companies boasting a diverse range of product categories and occupying a display area of 28,000 m². A total of 8,200 visitors attended the event, a slight fall in numbers that can be attributed to other events taking place at the same time as well as public holidays, however this was more than compensated for by the calibre of the business contacts. Trade show organizer Kerstin Manke was delighted: “Overall there was a good to very good response. Indeed, due to the excellent constellation of exhibits and product groups numerous exhibitors and visitors concluded extremely good deals. In other words, we achieved our objective.”

A major theme at the trade show was sustainability – an issue that continues to attract interest and has increasingly impacted on the trend-led retail promotions sector.  This growing concern with the environment was evident at the IAW Autumn Fair, which offered an array of clever and green product innovations such as eco-friendly carpets, vegan energy drinks and biodegradable batteries.  In similar vein, the export manager of the Portuguese company Jobitex, Vitor Teixeira, pointed out that “synthetic fibres are growing out of favour in bed linen and carpets and the use of textile remnants is a popular trend among consumers. This is an especially efficient, cost-saving trend.” Vikas Kakar, Managing Director of the English firm Fuji Enviromax, reported that his company had gone one step further and now makes batteries that are entirely biodegradable and do not require recycling: “Companies must act more responsibly”, he said and stressed: “We have reached a point where consumers are more prepared to pay a higher price for more ecological benefits. It is possible to earn good money with eco-friendly batteries.”  Marcus Bach from the company Brainbooster in Duisburg also addressed this theme, showcasing the new vegan energy drink “Caliber 12 Energy”. As he reported: “We could not have asked for more – the atmosphere was super and we were able to conclude some great deals with buyers from home and abroad. Concrete plans are now being made for our next IAW!”

A similar response was found amongst other exhibitors, such as Hans Overtoom, Head of Sales at Interbosch BV based in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. The company has exhibited at the IAW for ten years for good reason: “Excellent organization and the opportunity to meet lots of business leads and partners from Germany and across Europe, which is very important to us. Cologne is a great location for the retail sector.” The excellent outcome prompted the SBM Group GmbH from Vienna, which took part in the IAW for the first time last spring, to double the size of its display space allocation. Managing director Alexander Herr commented: “We are relatively new arrivals to this market but the brand name ‘IAW’ is very well known. The trade fair has thus provided us with a great platform. The Spring Fair was good for us, but this time we were able to acquire a larger number of even more valuable contracts. Exhibiting here has shown us why the IAW is known as a genuine fair for getting orders.

Checkpoint Systems GmbH – based in Hirschborn, Germany – was one of many first-time exhibitors at the IAW. Their presence marked another important addition to the IAW product portfolio, namely a security system for retail outlets which has the international claim “Sell More, Lose Less”. The trade visitors showed a lot of interest in the company’s offerings and, as Hans-Jürgen Nausch, Head of Business Development, explained: “Until now we have taken part in events where products are simply presented, whereas here visitors can get a hands-on appreciation of our security systems. They can try them out and then order them on the spot. In view of the great response we experienced we will definitely be here again in 2018.”

Once again the trade fair attracted an interested audience to two platforms, where experts gave talks and offered advice on retail trends, marketing and e-commerce. The visitors were spoilt for choice with the zentrada Forum offering talks from leading branch pundits such as Michael Atug and other key players and respected experts such as Adrian Hotz, Claudia Schlüter and Thomas Engels appearing in the E-Commerce Arena organized by restposten.de.

On the opening day of the trade show the IAW Trendseller Product Award was presented at the Trend Forum. This award is bestowed on products that are thought to have exceptional commercial promise. The winner was the lightweight (6.9 kg) folding “dcb E-Scooter” from Tec & Tec GmbH, Wuppertal, which was praised by the judges for addressing mobility and the ecological considerations of the modern city. Other winning products included a flexible travel case, vacuum-sealed containers and a practical multi-purpose pan.

Ulrich Zimmermann, director of Nordwestdeutsche Messegesellschaft Bremen-Hannover mbH, concluded: “Three exciting and intense days of business have come to an end. Naturally, it is not yet possible to evaluate all the results but when I hear that countless exhibitors, including several who made their debut here this time, have already booked space at the IAW 2018, I think the signs are very encouraging.”

The next event will take place from 27.2 to 1.3.2018 in the Exhibition Halls 11.1 and 11.2. More information on the International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports can be found at: www.iaw-messe.de.

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