Gaining momentum for two exceptional trade fair years: 2018 results were higher than forecast


Leading global trade fairs in Düsseldorf have achieved excellent results: Significant increase in revenue and profit expected for 2019, due to large number of trade fairs

Messe Düsseldorf showed robust performance in 2018, a low-key year in its trade fair cycle: The revenue of the Messe Düsseldorf Group reached around EUR 290m, while the revenue of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH was around EUR 260m – three per cent more than expected This gives the company considerable momentum for 2019 with its large number of trade fairs, when Messe Düsseldorf GmbH is expecting sales to increase to EUR 320m.


Anticipating the final accounts for 2018, Messe Düsseldorf can already see that the past year has been positive. Under its usual trade fair cycles, where some events are only held at four-year intervals, 2018 featured a smaller number of events, yet they were highly successful. Several leading global trade fairs – wire & Tube, EuroCIS, ProWein, CARAVAN SALON and boot (the boat show) – achieved excellent results in terms of both visitors and exhibitors.


Messe Düsseldorf GmbH generated a revenue of around EUR 260m (compared to EUR 340m the previous year) – three per cent higher than forecast. The annual GmbH result after tax was approx. EUR 12 million (previous year: EUR 57 million). As before, a dividend will be paid out for the 2018 financial year. The final amount will be decided by the relevant bodies in the second quarter of 2019. The results of the GmbH was impacted by a lower number of events under the trade fair cycle as well as by investments in the digital transformation, additional staff for the more intensive trade fair years 2019 and 2020, the modernisation of the exhibition centre and the company’s global portfolios.


The net revenue of the Messe Düsseldorf Group was approx. EUR 290m (previous year: EUR 367m). “The overall revenue was lower due to cyclical fluctuations in the trade fair business. Yet although 2018 had a smaller number of events, we have proved our ability to achieve good profits,” to quote Werner M. Dornscheidt, Chief Executive Officer of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. “This has given us an excellent start for 2019 with its large number of events, including above all K, the world's biggest trade fair for plastics and rubber. And we are also very much looking forward to the 50th boot Düsseldorf and the 25th ProWein.”


As 2019 will have a larger number of events, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH are expecting a revenue of around EUR 322 million and an after-tax result of about EUR 26 million.


Growth in existing and new events


In total, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH organised 26 events at its own exhibition centre on the River Rhine (previous year: 29), including 15 proprietary and 11 partnership/guest events. The number of exhibitors at proprietary events rose by 3.1%, reaching 22,800 (previous events: 22,112), while the number of visitors increased by 3.6%, reaching 1,020,000 (previous events: 984,048). “Our leading global trade fairs are growing, and we are also developing our own start-ups, which are doing very well indeed. The PRINT & DIGITAL CONVENTION will be held for the third time this year and is set to grow even further. The same can be said of tasc, the world's first trade fair in automotive glass, smart repair and car detailing. We'll be providing even more hall space for the second edition of tasc,” says Dornscheidt. “Where we have a cutting edge is that we don't hold generic trade fairs for the whole of industry, but we offer an enormous spectrum of highly specialised trade fairs for individual sectors, showing how exactly each of them is impacted by digitisation and other new developments.” To ensure long-term success, Messe Düsseldorf particularly focuses on three areas at the same time as developing its portfolio: Increasing its internationalism, modernising the exhibition centre and ensuring digital transformation.


Increasing internationalism: cushioning cyclical fluctuations


Having opened its new international office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 1 January 2019, Messe Düsseldorf now has 77 such offices, as well as six international subsidiaries and further international affiliates in 141 countries. “We are continuing to expand our international activities,” Dornscheidt continues, “for a number of reasons. Firstly, we want to meet the demands of the market in an increasingly globalised economy. Secondly, we want to attract more international exhibitors and visitors to our leading global trade fairs at home, in Düsseldorf. And thirdly, we're aiming to improve our ability to cushion cyclical fluctuations through robust international business. In 2018 we recorded sales increases in China and above all in India, which is a growth market. We are working hard to boost the international share of our net revenue, and our goal is to increase this share from nearly 22% at the moment to 25% by 2030.” Of the approximately EUR 63 million achieved by the Group internationally in 2018, EUR 28.2 million was made in Russia, EUR 16.4 million in China, EUR 4.9 million in Singapore and EUR 3.9 million in the United States.


In all, the Messe Düsseldorf Group held 58 proprietary and joint events outside Germany. The group is particularly expanding its international business in dynamic future markets with major potential for growth, especially in Africa, South America and the Middle East. This takes place under the umbrella of Düsseldorf's four major leading global trade fairs – interpack (Processing & Packaging), MEDICA (Health & Medical Technologies), K (Plastics & Rubber) and wire & Tube (Metals & Flow Technologies). Of the four new events in 2018, two were held outside Germany. In 2019 the group will be adding six new international trade fairs, including both proprietary and joint events. One of them will be the new packaging exhibition pacprocess MEA, part of the interpack family, which will be held in Cairo each year from December 2019: “For pacprocess MEA,” Dornscheidt explains, “we are forging new paths. This first-time event will be supported by an advisory committee consisting of Egyptian government organisations and international companies from the food, pharmaceutical and confectionery industries, such as Coca-Cola, Merck and Mondelez. This is something totally new for a trade fair outside our home base of Düsseldorf. Thanks to this close collaboration with government and industry, the new event will have a great deal of support.”


This will also reflect positively on Düsseldorf as a trade fair venue, thus confirming the company's globalisation strategy. The proportion of international guests has been rising for many years now. In 2018 proprietary events in Düsseldorf attracted 74% international exhibitors (previous events: 72%), and 31% international visitors (previous events: 29%). “Our events in the sector of machinery, plants and equipment,” Dornscheidt highlights, “drew the high proportion of 77% international exhibitors and nearly 70% international visitors. Our proprietary events in Düsseldorf therefore reached new records that are unique for German industrial goods trade fairs.” The high level of internationalism among exhibitors was particularly in evidence at ProWein (86%), MEDICA (82%) and Valve World Expo (81%). The greatest proportions of international visitors were reached by MEDICA (72%), glasstec (70%) and Valve World Expo (68%).


The high international prestige of the leading global trade fairs in Düsseldorf is paying off not only for the company itself, but also for Düsseldorf as a region. According to a study by the IFO Institute, Düsseldorf's trade fairs, conventions and other events are generating average additional tax payments of EUR 36.3m per year. Moreover, extra purchasing power of EUR 1.66 billion has been generated by the Düsseldorf events, while also providing 16,664 jobs within the region.


Modernising the exhibition centre: a service factor for customers

To stay competitive and attractive for the customers of the future, Messe Düsseldorf is keeping its exhibition space and premises abreast of the times, continually improving its technology, convenience, amenities and architecture. Autumn 2019 will see the opening of the New Southern Section, comprising the architecturally ambitious South Entrance and the new Hall 1. The hall is already booked up, right from the start. It will celebrate its première with a guest event – expopharm – which will be followed seamlessly by Düsseldorf's leading global trade fairs K and MEDICA. “This shows that our construction policy really meets the needs of our customers,” reflects Dornscheidt. In all, EUR 140 million is flowing into this project – all without subsidies.


Hall 1 will be 12,027 sqm in size, with space for up to 10,000 people. In addition, the first floor will have six glass-enclosed meeting rooms, each with 200 sqm and holding 198 people. One of the new meeting rooms, which will protrude into the foyer of the new South Entrance, will provide 2,112 sqm of event space. In front of the South Entrance, 20 metres high, there will be a 7,800 sqm canopy over a plaza with taxi ranks, public transport connections and an entrance to the new underground car park. The project also includes a major facelift and a larger audience capacity for the Congress Center Düsseldorf (CCD), which will be directly accessible from Hall 1.


The New Southern Section forms part of the Messe Düsseldorf 2030 Masterplan which, since the year 2000, has so far included Halls 6, 7a, 8a and 8b, the new North Entrance and the complete modernisation of seven halls. To quote Dornscheidt: “We reckon we’ll be investing EUR 720m in development projects over the next 12 to 15 years. The details will be decided by our supervisory boards.”


Digital transformation: an investment in the future

Messe Düsseldorf is one of the world’s most important platform for showcasing digital innovations in a range of industries. The company itself is also driving the digitisation of trade fairs and of its own business. “We’ve been welcoming growing numbers of highly qualified customers and decision-makers at our trade fairs. After all, as our world gets increasingly digital, it is more important than ever to stay in touch on a personal level,” says Dornscheidt. “Seeing that industry and society are going through a major transformation, it is essential that the global players of the various industries get together, present their innovations, discuss recent trends and jointly initiate new developments. So we think it's important to provide them with ideal platforms for their presentations and for communication as well as with the best digital infrastructure and services.” All processes at Messe Düsseldorf are digitised, and it is already selling between 80 and 90% of its space, services, tickets, etc. through digital channels. In fact, around 75% of its total sales is generated digitally. Messe Düsseldorf was one of the first businesses to pick up on the importance of digitisation, driving the trend from the very beginning. Drupa had one of the world’s first dedicated trade fair websites as early as 1995. The latest developments include a completely new online ordering system, modelled on a standard online shop, a geodata-based site map and a new digital visitor information system with wayfinding functions. The interactive site map is based on the geodata of the open-source project Open Street Map, which places Messe Düsseldorf into a global mapping context. This makes it possible, for instance, to show exactly where each exhibitor has their stand and to call up their profiles. Combined with the new D:VIS info pillars (34 interactive info columns with touchscreens), wayfinding is now an option everywhere in the exhibition centre, showing how to walk from a given pillar to the relevant exhibitor. The interactive site map has also been integrated into the trade fair app and can therefore be used on all mobile devices.


To add even more weight to digitisation, Messe Düsseldorf set up a new division in 2017, entitled Digital Strategy and Communication. Its purpose is to make internal adjustments to the organisational structure, IT and corporate processes with a view to enhancing agile working methods and meeting the needs of an increasingly digitised world. Looking beyond Messe Düsseldorf, the division is working on the further integration of digital methods into existing business models and, in the long term, the development of new business models.


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The Messe Düsseldorf Group:

With a revenue of around EUR 367m in 2017, the Messe Düsseldorf Group has maintained its position as one of Germany's most successful trade fair companies. Over 29,000 exhibitors presented their products to 1.34m trade visitors at the company’s events in Düsseldorf this year. The Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre hosts around 50 trade fairs in five sectors of expertise: machinery, plants and equipment; the retail trade, trades and services; medicine and healthcare; lifestyle and beauty; and leisure. The trade fairs include 23 proprietary number one trade fairs currently, as well as 15 robust partner and guest events. Also, its subsidiary Düsseldorf Congress holds around 3,300 conventions, corporate events, conferences and meetings, attracting around 640,000 delegates in all. In addition, the Messe Düsseldorf Group organises 70 proprietary events, participations and contracted events in other countries and is one of the leading export platforms in the world. Moreover, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH comes first in the internationalism of its capital goods trade fairs. In 2017, Messe Düsseldorf's proprietary events in machinery, plants and equipment attracted approx. 74% international exhibitors and 73% trade visitors from other countries. In all, Düsseldorf trade fairs were attended by customers from about 180 countries. The Group runs a global network of sales offices in 140 countries (with 76 international representations) as well as competence centres in 8 countries.

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