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“The tradition of fairs in Frankfurt goes back to the Middle Ages. The autumn fair, which is now called Tendence, was first held as a harvest festival in the 11th century,” says Detlef Braun, a member of the executive board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

Nowadays Tendence is an important trend barometer for the second half of the year. 1,852 exhibitors from 66 countries were at the Frankfurt fairgrounds from the 24 to 28 of August 2012; 46,000 visitors attended. The trade fair was divided into two sections: ‘Giving’, with 1,064 exhibitors, and ‘Living’ with 788 exhibitors. Germany was represented by 846 companies, while 553 exhibitors came from Asia.

“Looking for trends, finding new products and having face-to-face contact”, is the reason Gus Wiltenburg travels to Tendence. “It’s about people, it’s about talking, it’s about meeting,” he adds. Wiltenburg is the managing director of Mondo Group, one of New Zealand’s leading importers and distributors of products in the health and beauty care, bath and body, gift and fashion categories.

Wiltenburg welcomes the networking opportunity a trade show in Germany offers him. “You can get a really good feel about trends and you learn to look outside the square when you wander around the halls,” he says.

Bayard Sinnema from Craftcorp Group attended Tendence to validate the designs and development his company wants to present to New Zealand’s retailers for Christmas 2013. “I am pleased with the feedback I’ve received here,” says Bayard. Established originally as a manufacturer in New Zealand, Craftcorp was founded 25 years ago with the idea of bringing Christmas products to the Australasian marketplace.

Wiltenburg and Sinnema usually get a lot of leads when they visit trade shows. However, not every lead ends in a contract. “A lot of contacts are great until you start talking price and then the crunch comes,” says Wiltenburg.

Tendence is the smaller of the two flagship trade fairs for buyers and suppliers in the consumer goods market. Ambiente, which takes place in February, is the leading international trade fair for products such as tableware, kitchenware, household, giving and decorating, as well as home and furnishing accessories. Within the consumer goods sector it covers the entire global market from premium to volume segments. This year’s Ambiente was fully booked with more than 4,500 exhibitors from 87 countries and covered an area the size of 48 football pitches.

“Ambiente and Tendence provide the opportunity to meet potential clients from all over the world,” says Detlef Braun. “These trade fairs are about bringing people together, about innovations, emotions, ideas, conversations and deals. This is what you are missing if you are not at our international consumer goods fairs.”

Guest of honour

Messe Frankfurt also hosts a number of world-renowned guest events. These include the International Motor Show and the Book Fair. The Frankfurt Book Fair in October is the biggest book and media fair in the world, with around 7,500 exhibitors from over 110 countries. This year New Zealand’s ‘guest of honour’ status at this prestigious event has generated record-breaking rights sales for New Zealand writers and publishers. 66 book titles have been translated and published in Germany in 2012, an unprecedented number for New Zealand’s publishing industry.

“New Zealand has been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for over 20 years, but New Zealand books have never seen such international exposure,” says Kevin Chapman, president of the Publishing Association of New Zealand and managing director of publishing house Hachette New Zealand. “This is a stand-out year in New Zealand’s publishing history.”

The Messe Frankfurt’s exhibition grounds are located near Frankfurt Central Station in the heart of the city. The 10 halls offer 355,678 square metres of exhibition space, as well as an outdoor exhibition area covering over 96,000 square metres.

“Attending one of our famous trade fairs is a great opportunity to visit Frankfurt and find out that Messe Frankfurt provides the perfect platform for doing business,” says Braun.

With around €467.5 million (NZ$734.20 million) in sales, Messe Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest trade fair organisers. The group boasts a global network of 28 subsidiaries and approximately 50 international sales partners. Sixty percent of the company belongs to the city of Frankfurt and 40 percent to the state of Hesse. More than 400 trade fairs, congresses, events and conferences take place each year in Frankfurt.© By Doris Evans.

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