New dates, new perspectives, new opportunities: from 4 to 7 May 4 – 7, 2021, Heimtextil joins forces with Techtextil and Texprocess to bring together leading representatives of industry, trade, design, science and research at the same time and place. Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies of Messe Frankfurt, offers insights into the current planning status and the outlook for the trade-fair trio.
What makes you confident that the trade-fair trio of Heimtextil, Techtextil and Texprocess can be held successfully in May 2021?
This year, we all experienced a previously unknown set of circumstances with unpredictable developments. None of us foresaw the consequences and the duration of the pandemic. And we are still at the point where we do not know when we will be able to draw up reliable plans again. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be optimistic. Towards the end of the summer, Germany’s fair and exhibition industry was given the go-ahead to hold fairs again – not long before the second wave hit us. In view of this, we are relieved that we decided at an early stage to postpone the next Heimtextil from January until May 2021. For, although we are still far removed from having complete planning certainty, we are tackling the projects for Heimtextil, Techtextil and Texprocess 2021 with confidence – in the hope that the current, second lockdown and the no-less challenging winter months ahead of us will be followed next spring by an improvement in the corona situation. Looking towards Asia also gives us ground for optimism. There, in mid-October, Messe Frankfurt began holding fairs with up to 150,000 participants. Despite the fact that the way China has handled the virus is not comparable with the European approach, we nevertheless see the situation there as encouraging. All the more so because we firmly believe that social distancing and an efficient supply of fresh air is much easier to regulate in exhibition halls than, for example, in a shopping centre. Moreover, we have prepared our hygiene and safety concept very thoroughly over the past months. Naturally, we remain in close contact with the appropriate authorities and our exhibitors, the vast majority of whom want to see the sector getting together in the near future. Accordingly, we are working flat out on holding our fairs safely in 2021.
How do you see the mood on the industry and trade sides, and what has been the exhibitor response to date?
From Germany’s home-textile manufacturers, furnishing specialists and retailers, we know that the order books are well filled at the moment. People were unable to travel much in 2020 and thus invested more in their homes. According to the Heimtex trade association, there was no summer downturn this year and some sectors were able to make up for the losses from the first lockdown.
Nonwoven manufacturers achieved a five percent increase in sales with the production of face masks and hygiene articles. Overall, however, sales of technical textiles fell for the first time after many years of developing in a positive direction. According to the IVGT textile association, revenues were down by approx. 13 % between January and September, this year, compared to the same period in 2019.
Following a collapse in sales in the second quarter of this year, exports of textile machines from Germany are now increasingly stable. According to VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies, Germany’s machine and plant manufacturers noted a drop of approx. 16 percent in exports to the EU 27 between January and September compared to the previous year. However, this is set to improve over the course of the year.
We have heard that many companies are hoping for a trade fair and personal encounters with customers and partners in the near future, to give their businesses an additional boost. Leading representatives of the home-textile sector recently rated the coming Heimtextil as a decisive source of impulses for their business in times of crises. Many of them have also reacted positively to the postponement of the fair until May, and the echo from our exhibitors has been correspondingly good. At present, around 1,600 companies have said they are interested in exhibiting at the next Heimtextil. Techtextil and Texprocess can also boast very good registration figures with over 85 and 65 percent respectively of the exhibition space at previous events already having been reserved.
We consider ourselves fortunate that our exhibitors and partners have shown such confidence in us and that, even in times of crisis, they continue to rely on our leading trade fairs. With a comprehensive hygiene and safety concept, we at Messe Frankfurt are doing everything possible to ensure that visitors and exhibitors feel safe and can attend our events with a good feeling.
What are the benefits for exhibitors and visitors of holding the three trade fairs – Heimtextil, Techtextil and Texprocess – concurrently on this one occasion?
In September, we decided to postpone Heimtextil from January to May, next year, and to hold it concurrently with Techtextil and Texprocess. In addition to the significantly improved prospects of success given by the later dates, holding the three trade fairs in parallel offers valuable synergistic effects for many participants, as well as the unique chance to discover large parts of the textile value chain at the same time and place – from fibres and yarns, via functional textiles and production and finishing processes, to finished products for a variety of applications, especially textile interior furnishings.
Thanks to the close proximity to manufacturers of innovative technical textiles and nonwovens at Techtextil, Heimtextil exhibitors and visitors have the opportunity to meet potential partners from a new area of business. From the point of view of many Heimtextil participants, the machines and new technologies for processing textile and flexible materials to be seen at Texprocess are a field of considerable interest. Specifically, this means that product designers, buyers or textile engineers from exhibiting companies at Heimtextil can also make business contacts at Techtextil and Texprocess, and discover the latest products on the market. Moreover, the presence of retailers, furnishing specialists, interior architects, architects, designers, materials experts from research and development and machine and technology specialists means that the participants of all three events will receive impulses from sectors that are rarely to be found all together at the same venue. Thus, the trade-fair trio will be a ‘textile powerhouse’ offering inspiration, expertise and business opportunities in completely new constellations. In particular, Techtextil and Texprocess will offer more digital services for the first time. We will stream lectures and discussions, as well as install a new online matchmaking service. Thus, international participants will have the chance to obtain in-depth information during or after the event, as well as to make valuable contacts.
What are the next steps towards holding the fairs? What factors will be decisive for the trade-fair trio to be held successfully in May?
In February, we will have received binding registrations from our Heimtextil exhibitors. In the case of Techtextil and Texprocess, the deadline is the end of January. Only then – after these deadlines have passed – will we have a clearer view forward and our teams be able to plan the fairs in detail. As soon as possible afterwards, we will hold a press conference and provide details about the number of registrations received and the planning status of the individual events.
We hope very much that the situation will improve over the winter months and, in particular, that the travel restrictions can be relaxed. Under these circumstances, we are confident that, with our carefully prepared hygiene and safety concept, we will be able to hold a safe and highly successful trio of fairs.
Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. The Messe Frankfurt Group employs around 2500* people in a total of 30 subsidiaries. The company generated annual sales of approximately EUR 250* million in 2020. Even in difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are globally networked with our industry sectors. We have close ties with our industry sectors and serve our customers’ business interests efficiently within the framework of our Fairs & Events, Locations and Services business fields. One of the Group’s key USPs is its closely knit global sales network, which extends throughout the world. Our comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. We are expanding our digital expertise with new business models. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 %) and the State of Hesse (40 %).