INTERVIEW: Matthias Becker, Cologne's International Hardware Fair Director

Over 2,500 exhibitors and more than 40,000 visitors will be heading to Cologne between 4‐7 March 2018 for the globally‐focused hardware trade fair, EISENWARENMESSE. Director Matthias Becker heads the team that make it all possible and Torque Magazine caught up with him in the run up to the show…

What are your expectations for the 2018 show – do you expect attendance to grow?

We are expecting more than 2,700 exhibitors in total from over 50 countries. The European companies are very strongly represented here: Above all Germany has an increased number of exhibitors. But also, Italy with 190 companies, followed by France, Great Britain, Spain, Poland and last, but not least Turkey are showing a big presence. From overseas we are recording the large participation of around 80 companies from North America. Of course, the Asiatic exhibitors are equally well‐represented.

Regarding the international level of the trade visitors, we are also assuming that our level will remain world‐class in 2018, both in terms of quantity and quality. However, the quality is more important than the quantity, which is also clearly reflected by the satisfaction of our exhibitors. We reached this goal with the event in 2016 and this is also at the top of our agenda for 2018 as well.

How is the tool market performing and how does it compare with the market at the time of the previous show in 2016?

On a national basis, we are generally able to look back on a positive environment in 2017 again. The tool industry is doing well, the German manufacturers experienced growth in terms of both domestic demand and in the export sector. EISENWARENMESSE ‐ International Hardware Fair Cologne is the hardware industry's number one platform. But in this case too, international means that in addition to the national markets we also serve the markets – beyond the borders of Europe.

The majority of our 2,700 exhibitors is export‐oriented, over 60% of our just under 44,000 visitors came from abroad in 2016 and represented over 129 countries in total. As such, besides the national economic situation, the international economy is also of great significance for the trade fair. The influence of political changes also plays a role. A general statement on the situation is thus difficult, even in comparison to 2016, because the relevance and conditions of the individual markets vary greatly. Generally speaking, though, one can say that EISENWARENMESSE ‐ International Hardware Fair Cologne is the right place to meet up with the entire international hardware industry.

Have you got a message for potential UK visitors?

The British participation has increased over the years up to just under 70 companies and has remained stable since 2012. The percentage of British trade visitors has also increased. This speaks for the quality of our event and for the significance of EISENWARENMESSE –
International Hardware Fair Cologne in Great Britain.

It is the number one international industry platform. This is where the who's who of the industry meet up to do business, network and discover the latest trends and innovations. Our visitors can look forward to four days full of innovations, new services, impulses for the further development of one's own business, intensive networking and interesting contacts. Let me give you some ideas:

We will implement a Start‐up Village in cooperation with the European Federation of DIY Manufacturers (fediyma) and with the support of Richard van Hooijdonk, the trend scout and futurist from the Netherlands. It will provide the exhibitors and trade visitors with firsthand answers and solutions based on their digital know‐how.

Secondly, EISENWARENMESSE – International Hardware Fair Cologne 2018 is presenting a special exhibition as well as an event programme focusingon additive and spare part production in cooperation with the future agency HAUTE INNOVATION from Berlin. The exhibition provides an overview of the potential of additive production for DIY stores, the specialised trade and the online trade, the spare part production using additive production methods, as well as insights into new business models with 3D printing and co.

Furthermore, Koelnmesse is offering the exhibitors an orientation and information on the theme of digitalisation in the scope of a dSummit. Besides the stage, where expert talks and lectures will be held, suppliers such as Amazon Business, Mercateo, nexmart and Rakuten will also be exhibiting.

I think these are a lot of reasons why you definitely shouldn't miss EISENWARENMESSE ‐ International Hardware Fair Cologne 2018!

Torque Magazine is an official media partner of Eisenwarenmesse - International Hardware Fair Cologne, which runs 4-7 March 2018. We've got more on the show online, including: