Optimistic mood and a new record number of exhibitors – IAW celebrates 25th anniversary


Expectations were high among the organizers of the 25th International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports in Cologne. As a result of the keen demand for stand space it was necessary to allocate additional display space in Halls 6 and 9 at short notice. Exhibitor numbers topped 350 for the first time and with a total display area of 29,000 m² booked and a diverse international cross-section of product segments on show, the excellent attendance of 9,500 visitors came as no surprise. Ulrich Zimmermann, director of Nordwestdeutsche Messegesellschaft Bremen-Hannover mbH, was naturally delighted: „The figures speak for themselves and testify to our efforts. The extremely positive feedback from many of our exhibitors and the good response to our supporting events is most rewarding and gives us strong motivation to further develop the IAW.“
International Sales Manager Bertil Wessel from EDCO in Eindhoven was also elated: „The IAW is simply top. From the superb organization through to the large number of potential clients from across Europe and beyond as well as the high quality – it just gets better. Best of all, we make sales. Other trade fairs are more about image marketing, but here we sell products!“ This level of satisfaction explains why exhibitors are booking bigger stands, as Ingo Klutt, head of sales at Winfried Kögler GmbH in Waiblingen, Germany, outlined: “We began with 28 m², booked 110 m² this time and, looking forward, 200 m² seems conceivable.“
Exhibitors taking part for the first time were also pleased with the 25th IAW. Whether the newcomers came from the host nation Germany or elsewhere in Europe, they mentioned good sales, new customers and the event‘s great atmosphere. This positive verdict was echoed by Mark Sass from MEDIASHOP in Neunkirchen, Austria, one of many thinking seriously about taking part again: „… and there‘s no reason why we shouldn‘t book a bigger stand.“
The 25th IAW once again provided a broad overview of trends and innovations for every retail segment. A clear trend favouring classic, high-quality merchandise emerged. This was verified by Heide Malischewsky, representing „BEAUTY GET JOY“ in Karlsruhe, Germany, who reported strong demand for „quality made in Germany“, saying „clients want this, understand the higher prices and are prepared to pay.“ Ingo Klutt advised: „Giving money remains a popular gift, but there is a clear shift towards adding a gift item, and anyone who has innovative gadgets to offer will make sales.“

The cooperation between the IAW and the trade fair Asia-Pacific Sourcing was repeated a second time and built on its previous success. Asia-Pacific Sourcing showcases household goods, hardware and ironmongery, and garden products made in Asia, but as well as opening the eyes of the trade to opportunities beyond Europe, it also forged links between some Asian exhibitors and the IAW network. For example, Jim Henderson, managing director of the British Henderson Group, emphasized: „Business was good and we got to meet new target groups, as well as trade visitors from the parallel event Asia-Pacific Sourcing.“

Wide-ranging professional expertise was offered on two platforms: firstly, the ever-popular Trendforum; secondly, the new E-Commerce Arena organized by restposten.de. These events attracted an interested public and featured top speakers, including eBay expert Mark Steier and Dr. Kai Hudetz, director of IFH in Cologne. „Our E-Commerce Arena was well received and the audience was extended by several thousand more via live streaming“, explained Christoph Krebs from restposten.de. The practical workshops – a new idea – got a similarly good reaction. „The professional content here is top class. No other trade fair can compete with the IAW in terms of support and know-how transfer“, asserted Yasmin Abdul Hack from „I Love Gifts“.
The Trendforum again offered a well-structured three-day program, which included the presentation of the IAW Trendseller Product Award, long since a highlight of the first day of the trade fair. The winner this time was the Skimming Blocker Card premiered by Mesa Products International B.V. based in Doetinchem, Netherlands. This innovative solution, the size of a credit card, affords reliable protection against cyber crime and ID fraud. Mesa managing director Eric Uyttenboogaard responded: „I’m proud that we have won and will use this accolade in our advertising and to make our name better known.“ Second place was awarded to „Karten-Lady“, a practical arm extension for parking ticket machines which are difficult to reach from within a car, while third place went to the Gun Slinger Wild West, a toy shooting gallery with a distinctively retro Wild West look.
The gates closed on the 25th International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports in Cologne on 9 March after three full days of business. Trade fair organizer Kerstin Manke, who received a cup marking the 25th anniversary, harbours many positive memories of the event: „Lots of new exhibitors, a mass of keen visitors, the satisfaction expressed by all participants and the steady business and many deals clinched in the exhibition halls – these are the kind of results I hope to see repeated in the future.“
The next IAW will take place from 20-22 September 2017. Due to the tight schedule of events at the Cologne venue the autumn fair will – as an exception – start on Wednesday and end on Friday. More information about this coming event and the 25th IAW can be found at www.iaw-messe.de.

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