On 11 July 1240, Emperor Frederick II granted trade fair rights to Frankfurt am Main, marking the birth of Messe Frankfurt. Now, 780 years later, the company can look back on an eventful history, in which the Frankfurt trade fair developed from a medieval marketplace into a global player, experiencing many successes and mastering various crises. Importance of trade fairs Peter Feldmann, Mayor of Frankfurt am Main and Chairman of the Messe Frankfurt Supervisory Board, had this to say about Messe Frankfurt’s anniversary: “Trade fairs have driven our city’s development. Nowhere else are trade fairs such an integral part of a city’s history as they are in Frankfurt. Emperor Frederick II’s official grant of trade fair rights marks the historical origin of a success story that started around Frankfurt’s City Hall (Römer) 780 years ago and continues to this day.” Peter adds, “From these beginnings, Messe Frankfurt evolved over the centuries into the world’s largest operating trade fair company. Yet even after 780 successful years, it remains true to the tradition of trade and internationality that is firmly rooted in its home city of Frankfurt.” Messe Frankfurt’s 780-year anniversary As soon as Messe Frankfurt celebrates its 780-year anniversary, it will be getting straight back to business As soon as Messe Frankfurt celebrates its 780-year anniversary, it will be getting straight back to business. Following a global lockdown owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, lasting multiple months, Messe Frankfurt is once again holding trade fairs. It all kicks off with Intertextile Shenzhen Apparel Fabrics, slated to take place on 15 July, 2020 in China. The trade fair is part of a network of some 50 international textile events in Messe Frankfurt’s portfolio. Trade fairs are also resuming business in Germany, in strict compliance with an extensive protection and hygiene concept. Smaller events are already underway on the Frankfurt exhibition grounds, and trade fairs will be joining them soon, Nordstil will be leading the way in Hamburg in September 2020, followed by the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2020. Replacement dates have also been planned in 2020 for many of the Group's postponed events worldwide. Return of trade fairs following lockdown relaxation Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, stated “We are delighted that our events will once again be serving as platforms for personal interaction. Our resumption of event operations worldwide demonstrates Messe Frankfurt’s flexibility in responding to challenges. We are able to offer our customers around the world the platforms they need – regionally, nationally, at a European level and globally, while satisfying today's new local regulations and requirements.” Wolfgang adds, “The past 780 years have demonstrated time and again just how important trade fairs are for promoting economic recovery in times of crisis, and our customers have been making it clear to us that face-to-face encounters and dialogue are irreplaceable.” History shows trade fairs as mirrors of economy A look at history shows that trade fairs, as mirrors of the economy, are repeatedly confronted with crises A look at history shows that trade fairs, as mirrors of the economy, are repeatedly confronted with crises. Even back in 1635, for example, Frankfurt’s Spring Fair had to be cancelled on account of fallout from the Thirty Years’ War and an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Frankfurt. Already, the measures taken to help thwart the spread of disease included border closures, health certificates, passport systems, entry and exit checks and quarantines. Trade fairs’ central role in economic development was clear even then. No sooner had the First World War ended than plans began for the International Import Fair in October, 1919 and the Spring Fair in 1920. Digitalization, safety and security, key topics in future events 95 percent of the exhibition grounds were destroyed during the Second World War and their immediate reconstruction sent a clear signal about Frankfurt’s importance as a trade fair center. Trade fair operations resumed with the Frankfurt Fair, in October 1948, relying in part on provisional lightweight constructions, tents and open-air spaces. 72 years later, the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been challenging the event industry since the start of 2020. Wolfgang Marzin adds “The trade fair landscape will change as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and topics such as digitalization, safety and security will have a key role to play. Yet, the trade fair industry's most important success factor remains personal encounters, something that Messe Frankfurt’s platforms have been making possible for 780 years now.”
Mayor Peter Feldmann, Chairman of the Messe Frankfurt Supervisory Board, also stressed: “The Group’s strength – which lies in its solid and strategically smart business and investment practices – is proving its worth more than ever today. I particularly welcome the counter-cyclical investments, be it in the exhibition grounds – as is the case with Hall 5 at present – or in strengthening its portfolio of events around the world.” In the second half of the year, Messe Frankfurt aims to resume its trade fair operations using a well-structured, clearly planned approach. With an extensive protection and hygiene concept, the Frankfurt Book Fair in October will be kicking things off at Messe Frankfurt’s Frankfurt base, followed by Formnext and Hypermotion. Strategic corporate management Nordstil is to be held in Hamburg at the beginning of September, while Nuremberg will be playing host to SPS in November. Messe Frankfurt is also confident regarding its international business. Group events are due to resume in China as of mid-July. Many of the postponed events have been assigned replacement dates for this year. For Messe Frankfurt, the temporary lockdown in the event business does not mean that our work grinds to a halt" Wolfgang Marzin: “For Messe Frankfurt, the temporary lockdown in the event business does not mean that our work grinds to a halt.” The company is continuing to work on its future, adapting to changes and gearing its products accordingly. In spite of massive outflows in 2020, an exceptionally challenging year, Messe Frankfurt has sufficient liquidity to overcome the current situation. Marzin: “We are in a position to increase our liquidity reserves through financing measures.” Low-risk strategic corporate management over the past ten years and sustainable growth are key strengths in a crisis. Final company figures “New records were set in financial year 2019: according to the final company figures, Group sales amounted to €736 million, compared with €718 million in 2018.” Mayor Peter Feldmann was very pleased at the positive result for the past financial year, where – in spite of additional provisions for contingent losses of €20 million – consolidated annual net income was approximately €48 million. A total of 423 events took place worldwide under the Messe Frankfurt umbrella, with 5.1 million visitors in attendance. This is 300,000 more visitors than in the previous year. Wolfgang Marzin continues: “The trade fair landscape will continue to evolve through the coronavirus crisis and Messe Frankfurt will be actively involved”. Digitalization will also have an important role to play – but so will advancements in the area of safety. Data management portal Messe Frankfurt is offering its customers around the world a series of additional digital formats for the events As Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, stresses: “For our customers, online platforms like Nextrade – an ordering and data management portal facilitating digital 24/7 business relationships – and Conzoom Solutions are already an important addition for stimulating their stationary business.” This year, Messe Frankfurt is offering its customers around the world a series of additional digital formats for the events that were postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. Uwe Behm, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, added: “The past weeks have shown how relevant it is to have a solid IT structure. This affects the company’s communication channels and the need to provide state-of-the-art digital platforms for our customers.” Messe Frankfurt will expand its business model around virtual and/or hybrid modules and further increase the relevance and range of its events. Presenting new ecosystem The Group is expanding its core areas of expertise at its Frankfurt base and worldwide. At present, a total of 18 new events have been planned for this and the coming financial year. From 2021 onwards, Frankfurt will be a highly attractive and relevant location for the international fashion business. Fashion Week is moving from Berlin to Frankfurt. Detlef Braun: “With Premium, Seek and Neonyt – Europe’s three largest fashion fairs in their respective areas – the FashionSustain and FashionTech conferences, over 2,000 designers, brands and fashion companies, we will be presenting a whole new ecosystem. Frankfurt Fashion Week will be a valuable addition to our Texpertise portfolio, which consists of around 60 global platforms along the entire textile value chain.” Global economic crises The Messe Frankfurt Group will be instrumental in stimulating the economy again" At the Group’s Frankfurt base, its work on Hall 5 is progressing according to plan. At the interface to the Congress Center, which has been modernized from a visual and technical perspective, the new hall will be integrated harmoniously into the congress business on the exhibition grounds once it has been completed in 2023. As Uwe Behm emphasizes: “We are making significant long-term and sustainable investments in our Frankfurt base. And, of course, the new building reflects our responsibility for future generations as well.” The contract with general contractor Zech Bau was signed at the beginning of March. This means that Messe Frankfurt is the only trade fair company that has succeeded in getting a general contractor under contract. Messe Frankfurt firmly believes that, as was the case following severe financial and global economic crises in the past, trade fairs and congresses will play an important role in spurring on economic recovery and prosperity. Marzin: “With our events around the world, the Messe Frankfurt Group will be instrumental in stimulating the economy again.”
As of March, Simon Mellor will be the new Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Messe Frankfurt’s subsidiary in Dubai. He will be taking over from Ahmed Pauwels, who has decided to leave the company for personal reasons. Trade fair management As Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, explains: “We are delighted to have secured Simon Mellor for our subsidiary in the Middle East. He has many years of experience in trade fair management and has an excellent international network at his disposal, particularly in the Middle East. As well as this, Simon Mellor has extensive knowledge of the relevant industry sector and region and has close ties with key multipliers and venue operators.” “We are also confident that his extensive management experience and his work in the area of business development and in launching new events will be a tremendous asset. Our efforts were geared very specifically towards finding a person with experience in senior management and regional project expertise that would complement the talent and potential that we have built up in the region to date and take it to the next level.” Proven event expert The Messe Frankfurt subsidiary organizes a total of 16 trade fairs in the Middle East region With British-born Simon Mellor, a proven event expert will be joining the ranks of the Messe Frankfurt subsidiary, which was acquired in 2002. Mellor was most recently Managing Partner at Oak Tree Event Consultants. Prior to this, he spent 13 years in various positions at dmg events, a trade fair organizer headquartered in London, most recently holding the position of President Middle East & Asia. Mellor began his career with Miller Freeman in London, prior to dmg events where he held senior position in Canada, London and Dubai, he has an Executive MBA from Hult International. He is married and the father of one child. The Messe Frankfurt Middle East portfolio includes Automechanika Dubai, Intersec, Light Middle East, Beautyworld Middle East and Paperworld Middle East. With a 145-strong workforce, the Messe Frankfurt subsidiary organizes a total of 16 trade fairs in the Middle East region. In event year 2018, 6,246 exhibitors from 60 countries showcased their products and services at events organized by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, while its trade fairs and conference formats recorded 140,685 visitors from 135 countries.