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The TOP FAIR Nordstil Special


Susanne Schlimgen, Nordstil Department Manager at Messe Frankfurt

Although, thanks to a slight improvement in the pandemic situation at the time, the summer Nordstil was staged successfully last September, the winter edition 2021 unfortunately could not be held due to a renewed tightening of the pandemic restrictions. However, that does not alter the fact that Nordstil exhibitors this year, too, have in their portfolios a whole array of new, promising and spectacular products which we will be presenting to you in our Nordstil Special. As the campaign kicked off, we spoke to Susanne Schlimgen, Nordstil Department Manager at Messe Frankfurt.

: How did the exhibitors, who had already registered in large numbers, react to the cancellation?
Despite the gratifyingly high number of exhibitors that had registered and the sophisticated protection and hygiene strategy we had put in place, it became clear as early as December that, in view of the unfolding pandemic situation, it was not to be expected that we would be given permission to stage any major events in mid-January 2021. Our consequent decision to cancel Nordstil was taken in collaboration with the Nordstil working group and after consulting closely with our exhibitors, who were very grateful that the decision had been taken early on. Nevertheless, it was not an easy step for us to take as trade fair organisers, nor for our exhibitors – especially since a degree of normality had returned in September with the staging of the summer Nordstil, and the joy among industry participants at seeing each other again after the Corona lockdown had on that occasion been very great. They had worked together and shared their stories and hopes, as well as offering support to one another, all of which showed how greatly those within the industry valued being able to meet up again here in person. We saw this too in the high degree of motivation among buyers, who placed comprehensive orders at the fair.

: Worldwide, almost all leading trade fairs were cancelled last year. The word from exhibitors and visitors alike is that business is still very much tied to personal contacts and impressions. What do you see as the biggest challenges for the industry, bereft of trade fairs for the next few months?
The challenges have further increased with the stricter regulations put in place in recent weeks. The lockdown measures are leading to a drop in sales and the threat of insolvencies. This is particularly true of retailers and brands that have no, or few, digital sales channels and can only interact with their target groups on the analogue level. The acquisition of new customers certainly poses a further challenge. Another point that emerged clearly from our discussions with exhibitors is that decentralised alternatives – such as sales teams, video calls and showrooms – do not provide dealers with an adequate overview of the market or the wherewithal to detect trends. For the presentation of new products, there is a very great need for personal encounters. Furthermore consumer goods fairs provide an indispensable opportunity to feel, smell, taste and touch products. Personal encounters and individual conversations are also needed so that those within the industry can sound out one another’s requirements and identify opportunities. All such needs are met by Nordstil for northern Germany – and Scandinavia, too,  because for Danish, Swedish, Finnish and increasingly also Norwegian brands, the Nordstil in Hamburg is their port of entry into the German market. It allows them to see how well Scandinavian trends and designs go down in Germany.

: Even in times of such uncertainty, we can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that this crisis, with all its drastic restrictions, will eventually come to an end. The next Nordstil is planned for the summer. How are the preparations going and have there been any corresponding commitments yet on the part of exhibitors?
In view in particular of the vaccination campaigns underway in Germany and Scandinavia, we expect to embark on the summer Nordstil, which will run from 24 to 26 July 2021,  from a far better starting position. It was not even possible to register prior to 15 January, so we cannot name any exhibitors quite yet. However, the number of participants for the cancelled winter event makes us very optimistic that we can expect to see in the summer growth – in terms both of exhibitor numbers and hall levels –  compared with last year. In addition, we are confident that the special areas – the Village, the Northern Lights, the Buddelhelden – will largely be back in play in the summer. Irrespective of any possible corona easing, we will still, together with our colleagues from Hamburg Messe und Congress, ensure this event constitutes a safe environment by means of comprehensive hygiene regulations – with, for example, the air constantly replaced by an influx of fresh air, hygiene islands, extra-wide aisles, enlarged exhibitor stands to allow adequate social distancing, one-way guidance for visitors at the hall entrances and in the halls, as well as online pre-registration to ensure the maximum number of visitors is never exceeded. Such rules are the ‘new normal’ and traders are already highly familiar with them. These are measures those in the retail business have learned to accept as part of everyday life and – as we were pleased to observe at the last Nordstil – all participants at trade fairs understand and respect the rules. That was one positive experience to be retained, and it confirmed that networking and ordering can still proceed safely even in co.  In any case one thing is certain: we are now looking forward immensely to being reunited in the summer and to our customers being able once more to interact freely, telling their stories, sharing their experiences, exchanging ideas.