Growth targets surpassed: Koelnmesse was a powerhouse in 2018

  • The biggest investment program in Koelnmesse’s history will include the construction of Hall 1plus and the Confex®. © Koelnmesse/JSWD Architekten
    The biggest investment program in Koelnmesse’s history will include the construction of Hall 1plus and the Confex®. © Koelnmesse/JSWD Architekten

Higher trade fair turnover, 28 trade fairs held abroad and important investments — Koelnmesse posted a turnover of €330 million in 2018. The company expects to set a new record in 2019.

“We have surpassed our ambitious growth targets once again. And we emphatically confirmed our secure place as one of the Top Ten companies in the global trade fair sector,” said Gerald Böse in his review of the past business year.

For a long time now, the even-numbered years at the Cologne trade fair location have tended to produce lower turnover than the odd-numbered ones, on account of the varying rhythms of the major trade fairs. That’s why Koelnmesse considers the turnover for 2018, which is expected to exceed that of 2016 by more than 20 percent, a huge success. The figure for 2018 did not match that of the previous record-setting year, 2017, but that too was in line with expectations.

Profit in 2018 significantly greater than planned

2018 was also the first even-numbered year since 2006 in which Koelnmesse once again made a profit. Moreover, the profit was significantly larger than planned.

An additional one-off effect resulted from the reversal of provisions for rental payments. After years of disputes about the amount of rent for the Northern Halls of Koelnmesse’s exhibition centre, a compromise with the landlord came into effect at the end of 2018 and the corresponding lease, whose conditions are more favourable to Koelnmesse, was signed. The reversal of the provisions that had been made in past years resulted in a considerable improvement of Koelnmesse’s financial result. The company’s total annual profit for 2018 will be approximately €50 million.

This positive development is also reflected in the company’s workforce: about 850 employees were working in Cologne and at Koelnmesse’s subsidiaries abroad in 2018 — about 200 more than ten years ago.

Average trade fair turnover grew by more than 8 percent in 2018

The company’s 77 trade fairs and exhibitions around the world in 2018 were attended by more than 38,000 exhibiting companies from 101 countries and attracted about 2.3 million visitors from 211 countries. In addition, about 118,000 participants came to congresses held outside the trade fair periods. A total of 49 events were held in Germany, including two outside Cologne: art berlin and ZOW, the supplier fair for the furniture industry, in Bad Salzuflen. The turnover of the trade fairs in Germany increased by more than 8 percent on average compared to their respective preceding events.

2019 premiere of CCXP COLOGNE, 100th anniversary of Anuga

The trade fair premieres in 2018 were ZOW in February and THE TIRE COLOGNE in May in Cologne, as well as Feria Mueble & Madera in March in Colombia. DMEXCO and gamescom, which celebrated their tenth anniversaries in 2018, were very successful. Both of these trade fairs have been models of growth in Cologne since 2009. CCXP Cologne – Comic Con Experience will be held for the first time in 2019. Anufood Brazil will be launched in Brazil this year. And Anuga will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.

A trade fair is held abroad every 13 days on average

Koelnmesse’s trade fairs held abroad are becoming increasingly significant for the company’s core business. In 2018, 28 of Koelnmesse’s own events were held outside Germany — one every thirteen days on average, all over the world. In addition to the established markets — China, Southeast Asia, and India — the focus continues to be on the Americas. The portfolio in North and South America now includes one event in the USA, four in Brazil, and three in Colombia. Koelnmesse’s twelfth subsidiary abroad was established in Colombia at the end of May 2018.

Koelnmesse has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs to organize the German Pavilion at EXPO Dubai 2020. To date, Koelnmesse has been involved in three of the four biggest world expositions held in this century. The first cut of the spade on Germany’s site in Dubai will be made at a ceremony in April 2019. The site will have a total area of 4,600 m².

Digital Transformation will be a key development programme

Koelnmesse will invest more than €50 million in the digitalization of its location and its business operations by 2022. Digital Transformation is the company’s key development programme, and more than 100 of the company’s employees are currently working on it. The goal is to successfully transport Koelnmesse’s core business operations into the digital world by developing digital services and business models, improving internal processes, digitalizing the exhibition centre, and expanding the corresponding trade fair themes.

The agenda includes projects that have already existed for some time, such as ticketing and access systems and the digital sales system that was introduced two years ago, as well as new themes such as the digitalization of traffic management and digital signage, a joint project with Samsung. The digital signage project combines signposting, infotainment, and advertising on more than 200 m² of digital space. Further expansion is being planned.

As part of this programme, Koelnmesse has created the digital campus “incube8” in its Administrative Building (Messehochhaus 2), which is located directly next to the exhibition grounds. Here, startups and companies from the trade fair sectors associated with Cologne work together to develop and market digital solutions. It’s a unique community that has so far not been duplicated in the trade fair business.

The Koelnmesse 3.0 investment programme is proceeding according to plan

Koelnmesse 3.0, which has a budget of about €700 million, is the biggest investment programme in the company’s history. Its implementation is proceeding according to plan. The new parking garage adjoining Zoobrücke, which went into operation in 2018, offers more than 3,200 parking spaces and is a central component of Koelnmesse’s truck logistics system. It’s playing a major role in reducing traffic in the Cologne neighbourhoods on the east bank of the Rhine, and it has added to the visual appeal of one of the most important access points to the city centre.

The construction of the new Hall 1plus, which will offer 10,000 m² of additional exhibition space, has begun. The planning for the multifunctional event location Confex® is moving ahead. Confex® and Hall 1plus will lift Cologne’s capacity to host high-calibre conferences and congress trade fairs to a new level. In the second half of 2019, the company will also begin construction work to enhance the attractiveness of the exhibition grounds’ direct surroundings in cooperation with the city of Cologne.