Exhibitors and exhibition organisers around the world, including the Middle East, have been going through some difficult times of late. What has been your experience as far as Epoc Messe Frankfurt is concerned? Has it really been any different for you? Can you give us some figures to substantiate your statement?
While it is true that the economic downturn has impacted the exhibition, conference and trade fair business
Significantly, it has also served as a great learning experience for us. The changing market situation has made us look at market developments more closely. By tracking the changing markets and development trends and evolving
creative solutions to meet these needs, we have, I believe, managed to come through the crisis as a stronger entity.
Many of your shows have been relatively stagnant, do you see this as a negative or a sign that the market is peaking? If not how do you expect the market to develop in the near future.
On the contrary some of the shows we executed in 2010 went really well. For example, last year’s edition of Automechanika Middle East was the largest the show has experienced to date, reaching the milestone of the 1,000 exhibitor mark. The upcoming exhibition, Intersec, in 16th of January, which marks the start of the exhibition year for us is also going to be the largest edition to date, registering a definite 25% growth if not more on the last year edition.
It is true to say that the sluggish market conditions have affected the growth of some of our smaller shows. However, I believe we have adapted quite well to the changing situations. Intense market research, listening to the feedback of our clients and realising the transitional nature of any market situation has stood us in good stead. Our trade shows and events continue to anticipate the unique needs and nature of the markets we serve. This, I think, is the real reason behind us coming through an economically challenging phase.
What has been your turnover in the last fiscal year? How has it improved over the last year? Can you give us any figures that clarify your optimistic position in a market that is rather short on positive sentiment?
Last year, Messe Frankfurt, our parent company, organised 88 trade fairs around the world that attracted 2.5
million trade visitors, and more than 64,800 exhibitors, occupying some 1.81 million square metres of net exhibition space. These were complemented by 93 congresses and conferences attracting some 110,000 participants. Last year the company generated EUR 450 million in sales.
Here in Dubai we have come out with higher profit than targeted. Last year we actually expanded our employee database by about 25%. We also increased our overhead by adding 25% more office space. We see this expansion as preparing our company for the post recession stage. We believe that our evolving and flexible management system takes into consideration the constant flux in our primary markets and we are ready for the next wave.
You are expanding your business during the time of recession, what is the strategy behind this?
The economy comes in conjuncture waves with an average wave lasting about five to seven years. After any downturn, you can nearly predict there will be a boom again. In good times, consumers start wondering ‘Is this too good’ and purchases etc slow. On the other side, towards the end of a downturn, consumers start to spend again – prices have lowered and savings are in place so it starts to feel safe to spend again.
Knowing that the economy is predictable, we know that after the recession we need to be ready to pick up and go with the boom again and that is exactly what we have done here at Epoc Messe Frankfurt. We are well positioned to ride the next wave! The beauty about Dubai is that the overall global economic mood is very fast to influence in Dubai. The city is a very quick reactor to the global economy.
What is your long-term goal for Epoc Messe Frankfurt in the region?
We are a government owned exhibition organiser with 900 years of experience in the business. One of our main strategies is to attract exhibitors and visitors, not only to our shows here in Dubai, but also to our shows in Frankfurt. By building our reputation as a great exhibition organiser we can attract more clients and in turn we can build awareness on the exhibitions which our head quarters also host in Germany.
Another one of our long term goals is to be represented in the MENA region. We plan to develop activities in each and every country throughout the MENA region to achieve this and we are open to cooperations and partnerships in these countries. We want to be the No. 1 exhibition organiser in the region and so in order to achieve this we must have a presence in each country.