Rudolf Sellhorst, vice president Furniture and Interior Design at Koln Messe, knows what is expected of the market leader. “We didn’t make up this title,” he says. “Interzum’s reputation is completely due to the exhibitors that come from all over the world.” And project manager Andreas Zuge adds: “The attraction of the trade fair comes from the synergy between the exhibiting sectors.”

Those who recognise home living as forming a comprehensive whole will find the entire range of trend-setting materials and furniture technologies at Interzum. The exhibition is aimed at the three major target groups in the sector: best chair glider cupboard and kitchen furniture production; upholstered furniture , bed and mattress production; and interior and floor specialists.

The fittings manufacturers, who account for over one third of all exhibitors, target industry and the skilled trades equally. The market leaders among them consider themselves to be system suppliers more than component manufacturers.

The wooden material and surfaces manufacturers present themselves as trend-setters for new materials and colour trends, which provide impetus for furniture, interiors and floors alike.

With 620 exhibitors from the fields of upholstery machines, upholstery accessories and coverings at the last fair in 2001, Interzum can also claim to be the world’s most important platform for the production of upholstered furniture and mattresses. This remains so, even if well-known exhibitors such as Gerber Technologies, Lectra, Assyst/Bullmer and Investronica give preference to the IMB, which takes place every three years and will be held this time only two weeks before Interzum, says Koln Messe.

Rudolf Sellhorst believes that Interzum’s great significance is the reason why many fair-related events have sprung up in the supporting programme that supplements the exhibitors’ own activities.

Workshops and special shows on the topics of surfaces and innovative wood products are being prepared.

The German Joiners’ and Carpenters’ Convention 2003, the summit meeting of Germany’s skilled woodworkers, will run parallel to Interzum in Cologne from 22nd to 25th May 2003.

Discussion events for the wood trade, workshops on upholstered furniture production and technical information events will also offer valuable input.

Large-scale expert discussion groups and a forum for architects and designers will attract interested parties to the trade fair in the same manner as the business events organised by Koln Messe, which will bring together Interzum exhibitors with international customers in a targeted manner.

The European Wood Trade Association Congress, FEBO, will also take place during Interzum 2003. Also, the `Interzum award: intelligent material & design’ communicates to architects and decision-makers from the industrial design sector the value and technical expertise of the products exhibited at Interzum.

For many exhibitors, Interzum is the ideal opportunity for presenting themselves at a world-class venue every two years. They create a platform upon which domestic and international visitors can compare trends and technical expertise.

However, Andreas Zuge also knows that many furniture manufacturers use their trade fair appearance to motivate their internal global sales network by presenting and displaying the company’s expertise. Says Zuge: “A visit to Interzum is a must for many international sales and marketing teams.”

Registration numbers for the event in 2003 show that the exhibitors are well aware of their dual responsibility of not only making this world event a success for themselves but also strengthening the sector as a whole. One thing is clear to all of them: “The world market for furniture cannot do without new impetus and momentum.”

Cautiously optimistic–that was the conclusion reached by a recent survey on the economic prospects of exhibiting trade associations, carried out on behalf of Koln Messe in September 2002. Particularly pleasing for the organisers is the great importance the trade association representatives from all exhibition segments attached to Interzum Cologne.

Good ratings for Interzum

When asked to assess Interzum in terms of its importance as the leading international trade fair for the respective exhibition segments, the participating trade associations from 24 exhibition segments gave good ratings across the board. With regard to Koln Messe, this assessment shows that the new target group-specific communication concept, which focuses on the three market segments of cabinet and cupboard production, interiors, and upholstered furniture production, has proved its worth.

However, the current evaluation of the economic prospects in the run-up to the trade fair remains somewhat restrained.

In this respect, the responses given by German representatives swayed between cautious optimism and the worry expressed by most that the overall economic situation will not allow room for expansion in the coming year.

In contrast, foreign exhibitor groups, whose association organisations clearly publicise Interzum cologne, are less pessimistic. They primarily see opportunities for opening up new market potential at Interzum.

The survey also asked the trade associations for suggestions and recommendations on how they feel Interzum’s appeal can be improved and secured in the long term. In this respect, the general recommendation was to clearly position and structure the trade fair and to provide visitor-oriented supporting events.

The Cologne trade fair professionals thus received a clear vote of confidence for the activities and numerous accompanying events that aim to bring Interzum 2003 into the limelight.

With all the suggestions for improving the attractiveness of the event’s profile , the overall view expressed in the survey is clear, says Mr Sellhorst. The exhibiting trade associations cannot afford to miss Interzum, as demonstrated by one participant’s statement: “There is no substitute for this trade fair.”

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