Wera and Knipex cancel stands at Cologne's International Hardware Fair 2020

Concerns over the spread of coronavirus have seen a growing number of major tool and fastener exhibitors - now including Wera and Knipex - pull out of the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, due to begin Sunday 1 March.

Wera is among the show's biggest exhibitors and had planned to launch a number of new products at the show. Now the Wuppertal-headquartered business is planning online product launches instead, coinciding with the first day of the Fair.

While many exhibitors are planning to appear - including those attached to the German tool manufacturing association FWI - Wera joins a growing list of significant names that have confirmed they will miss this year's show.

At time of writing, the list of exhibitors that have cancelled their stand includes Gedore, fischer fixings, Teng Tools, Stahlwille, Klingspor, Martor, Dronco Abrasives, Rennsteig and a significant number of others.

Cologne's International Hardware Fair has been unfortunate in its timing, while concerns around the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, have significantly ramped up. In China, authorities have shutdown large areas (including in manufacturing regions) since the Lunar New Year, while Europe is starting to take significant precautions too - large international shows such as Barcelona's MWC, due to take place this week, was cancelled. Italy has seen more than 150 cases of coronavirus confirmed and has shutdown certain areas and events to slow the spread.

Wera confirmed the news it was cancelling its large stand at Cologne's International Hardware Fair through its LinkedIn feed on Friday:

Wera's homepage now also carries the news:

"Dear Wera fans,

"We are very sorry to inform you that we cancelled our participation in the hardware fair due to the current situation around the Corona virus and due to increasing cancellations by our customers and other exhibitors. Weighing up all pros and cons, our responsibility for our employees and partners led to this decision.

"All new products planned for the fair can be found on our homepage from March 1st.

"Your Wera Tool Rebels"

Knipex is also turning to online channels to launch the products it would have revealed in Cologne. A statement on Knipex's homepage read: "Dear KNIPEX fans and partners,

We have decided to cancel our participation at the Cologne Hardware Fair. It was a very difficult decision to make, as the entire KNIPEX team has been looking forward to meeting our partners and clients. We think it is our responsibility to take into account the concerns regarding the Corona Virus, which is also mirrored in the renunciation of many clients and the various questions of our staff.

"You can still look forward to many new and exciting KNIPEX products! We will keep you posted as usual on our social media channels and on our website starting from March 1st 2020. We will present the innovations to our clients in retail personally through our field sales force.

"Your KNIPEX team"

As of mid-way through last week(19 Feb 2020), the Cologne show organisers said they expect 3,000 exhibitors, and 1,200 companies from China.

The BBC reports that 77,000 people in China have been found to be infected by coronavirus, where almost 2,600 people have died. 1,200 cases have been reported in 30 other countries, where there have been around 20 deaths.