The general mood was positive as the 28th International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports (IAW) came to an end in Cologne on 21st September. The good atmosphere was undoubtedly influenced by the warmth of a sunny late summer’s day, however an excellent attendance and a popular new exhibition category also played a big role. During the three days of the autumn edition of Europe’s biggest trade fair for retail orders the 362 exhibitors welcomed some 8,250 trade visitors from across the world to their stands.
The visitors represented a diverse mix of the trade. Marc Lichter, Head of Distribution in Germany for the Swedish company wikholmform, reported: “We were able to make numerous international contacts from Iraq, the Netherlands, Russia, Mongolia, India and other countries. There was an extremely big mix of customers from online dealers, florists, dispensaries, buyers from DIY and building supply stores, and more besides.” Bram Roels from the Dutch company 4everyware Stocklots was similarly impressed: “We’ve been coming here for ten years and every year it amazes. This year was no exception. We concluded some great deals and have made some top contacts.” His compatriot Marcel Duivenvoorden, CEO of DUIF International, concluded: “The combination of opportunities to cultivate existing clients and generate new business contacts is unique to the IAW. Quite simply, we have not met the kind of customers we encounter here at any other trade event that we have attended.” Jörg Menzel, regional head of sales at Max Gründl in Ingolstadt, has long since recognized that the company cannot afford to miss this event: “With the IAW there is always an element of see and be seen – the whole sector can be found here.”
It is therefore not surprising that many first-time exhibitors were eager to secure a place in the Cologne exhibition halls 6 and 9, attracted by the traditionally high number of orders taken. “Three years ago I attended my first IAW as a buyer. Now I am here with our first stand and we are really impressed by the organization and the tremendous atmosphere”, reports Berto Perello, managing director of La Bolata in Spain. For Arthur Kaminski, key account manager at EGLO from Arnsberg, the services and conditions offered to exhibitors were the decisive factor: “The venue is very attractive and the trade fair is intelligently laid out, all to the benefit of visitors and exhibitors alike.”
The newly introduced exhibition category “e-commerce quarter” forming part of the popular E-Commerce Arena organized by Restposten.de proved popular. The comments made by Matin Heydari, Full Service Supporter with mitou in Cologne, underline the potential of the “e-commerce quarter”: “Things here ran far more smoothly than we had expected. Wholesalers, online traders, even start-ups enjoyed some optimal conditions for networking and a great ambiance. We know that some of our big clients started out small at the IAW.” Günter Uhl, CEO of ProductIP in Augsburg, identified one key benefit offered by the new exhibition category: “In the halls here you can find many Amazon traders you would otherwise not see.”
On all three days of the trade fair, the IAW Trendforum and E-Commerce Arena hosted numerous workshops, discussions and talks. Most were very well-attended and enthusiastically received, a fact acknowledged by one of the speakers. Gil Lang, managing director of commerce& in Hamburg and author of the privatelabeljourney.de blog commented: “The Content Corners were of great interest to me, but in particular to the guests. Many people said they found it really good and that the IAW offered them a lot of added value with this educational aspect. So I am delighted.” There was a full house for the session featuring multi-channel Rockstars headed by Michael Atug on the third day of the trade fair – this event was directed by Zentrada.Europe from Würzburg.
The IAW Trendseller Product Award was presented for three products in the categories home and leisure. First prize was bestowed on the ESB 10 burglar protection device for doors and windows from Huber-Systeme in Egglkofen. Extremely easy to install, the device affords additional highly effective protection against burglars and is therefore certified by the Institute for Window Technology in Regensburg. Company owner Johann Huber developed the system after his home had been burgled and he wanted to provide himself and others with effective protection. Second place went to a 2 in 1 gadget, the Bluetooth-enabled headset and speaker from Moin Mobile in Hannover, while third prize was presented to Top Ten Handels GmbH in Senden for their foilballoons with different animal motifs.
There is a general trend favouring natural and self-made products, explains Nicole Adolfs from Heib-Service in Bottrop: “Consumers are definitely moving away from plastic towards wood. And more people are knitting and sewing again.” Jörg Menzel adds: “Many young people want to sew and knit, and DIY continues to grow in popularity.” Uwe Linder, CEO of Linder Exclusiv in Bad Saulgau, added: “Outdoor, Camping and Garden are the areas in which customers are prepared to spend money. All in all, there is more interest in value.”
Following three exciting days of the International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports the trade fair organizer Kerstin Manke is confident: “We have once again pulled off a very successful IAW and met the current needs of the sector, as well as sticking to our growth strategy. Our goal is, and will remain, to meet the needs of our exhibitors and visitors and to remain a reliable barometer of trends and the trade’s no. 1 summit.”
The last trade fair day demonstrated that this is no empty promise. Due in part to the busy events calendar of the Cologne venue, the next Spring Fair has been brought forward to run from Monday 25 to Wednesday 27 February 2019 and will take place in exhibition Halls 10.1 and 10.2. This rescheduling is fully in accordance with the wishes of exhibitors and visitors, not least because it means that the event will not coincide with the start of the busy Cologne Carnival, but still ensures that for two days it will run alongside the partner event Asia-Pacific Sourcing in Halls 11.1 and 11.2 at the same exhibition centre. Information on different aspects of the trade fair events – past and future – can be found at www.iaw-messe.de.