The International Hardware Fair surprised many skeptics by showing no signs of weakness and left attendees and exhibitors energized and in high spirits. The four days in Cologne held from March 4-7, 2012, brought together a total of 2,665 exhibitors from 50 countries (2010/2,686) who met with 53,500 attendees from 132 countries (2010/56,500).
Strong attendance despite international retail consolidation underlined the event’s status as the world’s leading sourcing event for the Hardware and DYI industries. Cologne also saw strong numbers from the U.S. and Canada. A total of 93 exhibitors and close to 500 attendees from North America made the trip across the Atlantic this year. Almost 70 percent of the North American exhibitors selected to exhibit in U.S. or Canadian group exhibits offered by the American Hardware Manufacturers Association, the DYI Council and Koelnmesse Inc., the North American Chicago-based arm of the organizer.
Some of the North American attendees took advantage of the “International Buying Days” offered by the U.S. based “Presidents Council”. This organization lined up meetings for key management of major retailers, distributors and suppliers on conference rooms at the fairgrounds. Meetings started already the day before show opening and continued during all four show days.
Said Steve Powell, Vice President of the Presidents Council: “The Buying Days in Cologne were a complete success. We had six buyers from Lowes Global Sourcing, one buyer each from ACE International, OBI’s Head of International Sourcing, Hornbach’s Head of Import and three buyers from Menards who attended via internet tele-conference. Participating buyers told us that the quality of the meetings was outstanding and the face to face time with suppliers added great value to their efficiency and experience at the fair.”
A new and unique feature of the show was the "EISEN" Innovation Award presented for the first time. The award recognized outstanding achievements in two categories: Most innovative products and sustainable performance. The jury selected from more than 100 entries. The three winning awards for outstanding innovations went to Knipex, Rhodius and Gedore Tool Center. Awards for highest standards in sustainability were given to Wolfcraft and Diager.
One of the attendee favorites was the “DIY Store Tour,” a bus tour to three DIY retailers located in the greater Cologne area to learn about retail management experiences specific to the German retailers OBI, Knauber and Toom.
The International Hardware Fair/Eisenwarenmesse takes place in March every two years in Cologne, Germany in 11 halls of the Koelnmesse fairgrounds. The event is widely recognized as the leading industry trade show for the international tools, fasteners, fittings and the home improvement industry. Products offered here apply to domestic as well as industrial use.
North American companies interested in obtaining more information on attending or exhibiting at future hardware events should contact: Darrin Stern, Koelnmesse Inc., Phone: 773-326-9925. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.