Matthias Pollmann

  • Matthias Pollmann, Head of Koelnmesse's trade fair management division. © Axel Schulten
    Matthias Pollmann, Head of Koelnmesse's trade fair management division. © Axel Schulten

Head of Koelnmesse's trade fair management division, 36-year-old Matthias Pollmann, talks to us about Koelnmesse's unique food and interiors portfolio, his relationship with ALEXA and the challenge he'd like to set celebrity chef Johann Lafer.

Alexa, cook the aubergines!" Is that a future trend?

(Laughs) Yes, I'd say it’s definitely one of them! SmartHomes, i.e. the digitalisation of furnishings, furniture and built-in appliances, is huge. It’s also a trend we’re ready for.

The imm cologne is the world's leading furniture fair. LivingKitchen is regarded as the world's biggest kitchen event. The fairs are held together, how many people visit them?

With LivingKitchen 2011, we have established our own very international event as part of the imm cologne. This year, 150,000 visitors attended both fairs! During our trade – only days alone, 53% of visitors came from abroad. Key to marketing the imm cologne and LivingKitchen as well as other living and furnishing industry events are our close links to our trade fairs abroad. It goes without saying that we promote our Cologne fairs all over the world and that ultimately helps us to increase the number of visitors from these markets. We invite the world to Cologne – and it comes!

Does this also play a role in how Koelnmesse manages to keep stars like imm cologne or Anuga, which incidentally turn 100 this year, over such a long period of time?

I'm sure it does. It's about industry expertise and understanding customer needs. As far as the continuous conceptual development of each event is concerned, working closely with the industry has played a huge part in our many trade fair success stories so far. Ultimately, a trade fair is always about showcasing innovation. We address things that will become important for the industry in a few years' time. Along with the exhibitors, we always think ahead. That way trade fair concepts tend to work well. In addition, there are the locational advantages: Cologne is home to the exhibition centre but has much more to offer than just that – something that goes a long way to strengthening the city’s appeal Cologne is also easy to get to, which also plays a role. We have three airports nearby and a good rail connection to Frankfurt. And we’re building for the future. Through our Koelnmesse 3.0 investment programme, we plan to make the entire exhibition centre fit for the future by 2030. We are carrying out modernisation works, we are improving the traffic and parking situation and we are creating the basis for digital services. Not to mention the new exhibition, congress and event facilities we are creating to make new events and formats possible throughout our entire Cologne facility.

Food is a big part of city life. That’s why CologneTourism is putting a focus on Culinary Cologne this year. How many stars would you give Cologne when it comes to food?

Well, of course, I’m biased and would always give Cologne five stars. I was born here after all (laughs). What I really like about Cologne is the variety it offers. I can go to a traditional brewery or to one of the many restaurants, that offer cuisine from all over the world. And it's precisely this variety that makes the city so attractive to me as a resident.

What about food at the Koelnmesse?

Koelnmesse is really good at showcasing the entire value chain. We have Anuga and ISM trade fairs that deal with finished products like chocolate. We have trade fairs that focus on the machines that produce food as well as packaging. And Cologne has LivingKitchen, which shows how food is processed. This makes Koelnmesse’s portfolio unique!

If celebrity chef Johann Lafer offered to cook an evening meal for you what would you like it to be?

(Laughs) I'd challenge him with a vegetarian menu! Or ask him if he could cook a classic Cologne dish like Himmel und Ääd. But he’d have to share it with me.