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INTERZUM SEEN FROM A U.S. VANTAGE POINT-INTERVIEW WITH METTE PETERSEN
Chicago, IL – August 2006
Mette Petersen is the president and managing director of Koelnmesse, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Koelnmesse GmbH, the German trade show organizer of interzum 2007, the world’s leading trade event for suppliers to the furniture and interior industries.
Petersen coordinates sales and marketing activities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for the entire Koelnmesse show portfolio. Headquartered in Chicago, IL she is charged with helping North American companies to develop business in overseas markets by guiding them through all stages of their foreign trade show participation.
We recently talked to her for an interview regarding interzum 2007.
Q.: What is new at next year’s interzum?
A.: This time around I have to say many things. The show has moved to the new Northern exhibition halls as Koelnmesse has extended the totally renovated fairground since the last show. We are also moving exhibitors of different woods closer to the semi-finished products and to exhibitors of surface equipment to provide an easier traffic flow. And for the first time we will host the “European Veneer Conference”, a cooperative effort with the German Wood Traders Association. Lastly we have reduced the show days from five to four days. The interzum days are now May 9-12, 2007 from Wednesday until Saturday. This will allow interested attendees to visit Ligna in Hannover right after they leave from interzum in Cologne.
Q.: Is interzum suffering from industry consolidation?
A.: Using our current exhibitor as a benchmark we actually see the contrary. Our exhibit sales figures are stronger than two years ago and interzum is already 60% sold. In the end we expect roughly 1,300 exhibitors and close to 50,000 attendees from all over the world. Market leaders in all categories have signed up such as timber companies like Pfleiderer, Glunz/Sonae and Kaindl or fitting suppliers such as Blum, Hettich/Haefele, Grass, Salice, Formenti and Samet. We are very pleased to see that there is strong support among the international industry for Interzum 2007.
Q.: What is it that makes interzum special in the minds of international exhibitors?
A.: Well, interzum has a tradition in a sense that major manufacturers wait until this event before they come with new products and show their latest technology to the industry. Our exhibitors are very much aware of the increased media attention present at interzum and they are trying to maximize the impact they can make with their new products. During Interzum there will be hundreds of journalists from over 50 countries on the site.
Q.: How can U.S. furniture manufacturers, the supply trade or specifiers to the industry benefit from Interzum?
A.: Furniture manufacturers, the supply trade and specifiers will find product innovations at Interzum not previously viewed at U.S. trade shows. At Interzum they can touch and feel those products and discuss product features, delivery times and price points with decision makers in attendance. This experience is far different from simply looking at a website or sorting through trade magazines. All those groups are in pursuit of what is “hot” and what can sell in their domestic markets. They normally don’t write orders at the show but after a few weeks of sorting and evaluation. The time spent at interzum provides them to gain specific knowledge with respect to new products and a time advantage over the competition.
Q.: Why does Interzum only take place every two years?
A.: It would be certainly tempting to stage interzum more often, however, this event is clearly designed as a concentrated effort to bring the supply industry in front of the furniture, woodworking and design industry. The two-year cycle provides suppliers of hard- or soft wood manufacturers, machine companies or fabric suppliers with sufficient time to prepare for large scale product launches. Some of our exhibitors will cover more than 50% of a single hall with their displays using two level booth structures with build in restaurants to entertain clients. The two-year time frame between shows helps to space the marketing cost inherent with interzum over 24 months. Exhibitors and attendees conserve their time and resources by not having to travel to various events in other European countries with limited international reach. At interzum they can concentrate their international sourcing activity at one major industry show.
Q.: Will the new fairground in Cologne have an impact on the way U.S. attendees work the show in Cologne?
A.: The way we will use the new halls enables us to provide a much better organized traffic structure for attendees. The halls are now connected by a central walkway with easy access to different segments. The different product halls are now much closer to each other providing easy access to manufacturers of Upholstery, Fabrics, Machinery, Semi finished Products, Laminates, Decorative Items and Fittings. Based on all the improvements, we expect this interzum to be the best one ever held in Cologne.
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