Messe Düsseldorf reports slightly higher figures than expected for the 2020 financial year. It has countered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to focus on cost savings as well as strategic measures for further business development. These include digital events such as the recent virtual.drupa in April. The new formats created in the process will supplement physical trade fairs in the future, creating even more added value for exhibitors and visitors. The reviving business abroad also demonstrates the high interest in physical trade fairs and sends out positive signals for the upcoming restart at the Düsseldorf (Germany) location.
The Messe Düsseldorf Group has succeeded in adjusting its sales for the 2020 financial year slightly upward to EUR 136.8 million compared to the preliminary figures published in December 2020 (EUR 131.5 million). Compared to the high-turnover year 2019 (EUR 378.5 million) the Group posted a 63.8 percent decline in sales due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss after tax amounts to EUR 53.5 million (previous year +EUR 56.6 million).
Due to solid and sustainable management in the past strong financial years, the Group can still report a high equity base of EUR 434.3 million (previous year EUR 518.6). At 62.2 percent (previous year: 66 percent), the equity ratio remains at a high level. The Group thus has a stable basis for overcoming the current situation.
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH posts a turnover of EUR 126 million, a 63.4 percent decline compared to 2019 (EUR 344 million). The GmbH loss after taxes amounts to EUR 43.5 million (previous year EUR +50.8 million). The equity capital base at EUR 385.6 million (previous year EUR 448 million) and the equity capital ratio at 60.1 percent (previous year 64 percent) remain high. These figures are also slightly higher than the preliminary figures published in December.
Great importance for the city: At their meeting on May 12, the shareholders decided to forego a dividend payment in view of Messe Düsseldorf’s current situation. Dr. Stephan Keller (pictured left), lord mayor of the state capital Düsseldorf and chairman of the supervisory board of Messe Düsseldorf, emphasizes the importance of Messe Düsseldorf for the location: “It is now important to strengthen Messe Düsseldorf so that it can once again play its outstanding role for Düsseldorf after the pandemic. For decades, it has attracted guests from all over the world to the region, who have spent a lot of money here and secured jobs, and so it will be again. Because after a period of intensive virtual creation and communication, people are longing for personal encounters again, also in business.”
In Düsseldorf, 14 events with 24,400 expected exhibitors and 915,700 expected visitors had to be cancelled or postponed in 2020. The seven events held, four of which were the company’s own events and three partner and guest events, brought together 5,422 exhibitors and 534,367 visitors. Among them was the CARAVAN SALON, which took place in September 2020 as the first major German trade fair after the lockdown in the spring with 107,000 visitors and 337 exhibitors. Wolfram N. Diener (pictured right), president & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, highlights Messe Düsseldorf’s comprehensive hygiene and infection control concept, which was used for the first time at CARAVAN SALON. “We have thus proven: Successful trade fairs are possible with the greatest possible protection for all involved, even in COVOD-19 times,” he says.
Due to the lockdown regulation in Germany, no trade fairs were permitted to take place at the Düsseldorf location in the first half of 2021. Currently, the resumption of business at the home base Düsseldorf is scheduled for autumn, and they will re-assess developments with their partners to take a responsible decision. The tradeshow calendar includes CARAVAN SALON Düsseldorf (Aug. 27 – Sept. 5), REHACARE (Oct. 6-9), A+A (Oct. 26-29), MEDICA and COMPAMED (both Nov. 15-18). “Holding these events depends on many factors,” explains Diener. “One prerequisite, among others, is that exhibitors and visitors can travel, be accommodated and catered to here in the city. The vaccination progress makes us cautiously optimistic. We are closely monitoring the current situation and will reassess the situation in good time in consultation with our partners and make responsible decisions.”
Sustainable management is a top priority: Currently Messe Düsseldorf GmbH’s forecast for the current 2021 financial year does not have to be adjusted downward and, as things stand, continues to stand at a turnover of EUR 107.3 million and a loss of EUR 77 million. Diener sees the consistent forecast as the result of the company’s sustainable management. “With the continuing strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entire trade fair industry, we are planning prudently and with long-term effect. We focus on both cost savings and on strategic measures for further business development.”
The measures effective to date will continue to be implemented. New hires and vacancies will not be filled, fixed-term contracts will expire and decisions are being made about long-term partial retirement models. In addition, short-time working has been extended until the end of 2021. “All these measures help us to secure the company’s liquidity,” says Bernhard J. Stempfle (pictured left), managing director finance and infrastructure at Messe Düsseldorf. “At the same time, we are flexible enough to be able to immediately offer our complete business model again as soon as we are able to do so. The agreement on short-time working, for example, includes the option to gradually reduce its scope even before the end of the year, as soon as we are able to organize physical trade fairs again.”
Virtual formats with future potential: Messe Düsseldorf is also continuously expanding its business areas to diversify its revenue streams, for example, by pushing digital formats. “The current situation is accelerating many developments that we already met before the pandemic with trade fair portals, trade fair apps, interactive hall plans and digital info steles,” explains Diener. “We have intensified our virtual engagement during the COVID-19 period even further in order to offer our customers communication and information platforms for their industries in the current situation as well.”
Held as the first virtual-only event of Messe Düsseldorf, glasstec VIRTUAL attracted 10,000 participants from more than 110 countries as well as 800 exhibitors from 44 nations in October 2020. In November 2020, around 45,000 trade visitors from 169 nations took advantage of the virtual.MEDICA and virtual.COMPAMED offerings by the 1,500 exhibitors from 63 countries. In April, virtual.drupa took place with 212 exhibitors from 35 countries and around 45,000 visitors from 155 nations.
“The newly created digital formats will in the future form a more integral part of our physical trade fairs,” states Diener. “Thanks to streaming, on-demand content and exhibitor profiles, people will be able to take part without being physically on location.
He continues, “At the same time, our exhibitors reach more potential customers by extending a tradeshow into the digital realm. Together, they all form a community that can be active 365 days a year. The combination of a physical tradeshow and digital elements creates the greatest benefit for our customers and consolidates the leading position of Düsseldorf’s global No. 1 tradeshows as central platforms for their respective industries—for the duration of the physical trade fair and throughout the year.”
International restart successful: The Messe Düsseldorf Group organized 16 trade fairs abroad (2020: 57), most of these in China (7), Russia (4) and India (2). Overall, 43 international events were cancelled or postponed worldwide. Now business abroad is picking up again; in the second half of 2020 alone, Messe Düsseldorf Shanghai organized six trade fairs with more than 3,200 exhibitors and 160,000 trade visitors. In April 2020, the plastics trade fair CHINAPLAS was successfully held with 3,612 exhibitors (previous event: 3,622) and 152,134 visitors (previous event: 163,314) as well as the occupational Health & Safety trade fair CIOSH with 1,565 exhibitors (previous event: 1,035) and 36,000 visitors (previous event: 21,207). A total of 10 of its own events are scheduled for this year.
Early this year, the Russian business was also able to restart. Russia’s leading fashion trade show CPM – Collection Première Moscow with 10,762 buyers and 550 fashion brands marked the business restart at the exhibition center operated by the Moscow cooperation partner Expocentre. NEFTEGAZ followed in April with 450 exhibitors from 23 countries and more than 14,000 visitors. Messe Düsseldorf Moscow will organize twelve own and cooperation events, participations and conferences in 2021.
“The rapid resumption of business at the international locations shows that trade fairs continue to have a basis for business and that demand for physical events remains high,” says Erhard Wienkamp, managing director operative trade fair business at Messe Düsseldorf. “This is also what we hear from partners and customers in Europe. Trade fairs will play a pivotal role in reviving the economy. Sectors need platforms for presentation, information, exchange and networking. Physical trade fairs offer encounters between people, essential for building trust.”
The Messe Düsseldorf Group generated a turnover of EUR 136.8 million in the COVID-19 year 2020. At the seven events in Düsseldorf 5,422 exhibitors presented their products to 534,367 trade visitors. Messe Düsseldorf has developed a ground-breaking hygiene and infection protection concept, which was successfully employed at CARAVAN SALON, the first major German trade fair held since spring 2020. The Düsseldorf Exhibition Center hosts around 40 trade fairs in five sectors of expertise: “Machinery, Plants & Equipment”, “Retail, Crafts & Services”, “Medicine & Health”, “Lifestyle & Beauty” as well as “Leisure”, including 20 international No. 1 trade fairs and also currently 15 partner and guest events. In addition, there are more than 1,000 congresses, corporate events, conferences and meetings organized by the subsidiary Düsseldorf Congress. Furthermore, the Messe Düsseldorf Group organizes 75 of its own, joint and contracted events in other countries and is one of the leading export platforms in the world. The Group runs a global network of 77 international offices for 141 countries, including 7 international subsidiaries. For more info, visit www.mdna.com