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Ambiente 2020 weathers the storms

Trends, new products and international business – these are traditionally at the focus of Ambiente in Frankfurt, which took place from 7 to 11 February 2020. The world’s largest consumer goods trade fair had grown to 4,635 exhibitors from 93 countries, covering 310,240 gross sqm.

Ambiente was the first leading trade fair to be affected by the impact of the coronavirus on travelling. Another clearly noticeable factor was Storm Ciara. Business in the halls, however, did not suffer as much as expected, and, in all, large numbers of orders were placed throughout the trends and new products platform. Nevertheless, exhibitors were disappointed with the strong sense of uncertainty among visitors and therefore the absence of quite a few retail channels. Yet those who did travel to Frankfurt benefited from an outstanding ordering environment.

GGR had a great time at the show, which is the undisputed king of tabletop and tableware products, with a spectacular showcase in this category from the best international suppliers in the business. We also enjoyed the World Fairtrade Organisation presentation which helped us discover some wonderful eco-friendly and fairtrade suppliers from around the world.

In total, around 108,000 buyers came to Ambiente from nearly 160 countries, seeking inspiration and looking to procure products for their new collections. 62 per cent came from countries outside Germany. One major reason for the reduction in visitors’ numbers was the impact of the coronavirus. Many German and international retail companies, and indeed major ones, had banned their workforce from travelling. Also, from Sunday onwards air and rail traffic were at times completely paralysed throughout Germany and Europe.

“If a trade fair is impacted by two such events, it really does face enormous challenges,” says Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt. “But our exhibitors assessed the situation correctly. And the trade visitors came to Frankfurt with a positive mindset and keen to place orders,” the experienced trade fair specialist adds. Satisfaction ratings among visitors continued to be at a robust level of 95 per cent. Due to the unusual situation, noticeable shifts could be observed among the top ten visitor nations. After Germany, they were Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Turkey, the United States, Russia, Japan and China. This year growth could be observed in the numbers of visitors from Estonia, Japan, Jordan, Colombia, Romania and Turkey.

Thomas Grothkopp, Managing Director of the German Trade Association for Residential Accommodation and Offices (HWB), adds: “Ambiente has demonstrated yet again that there’s a need for the real world of products, brands and people as an environment for concluding mutually beneficial deals. Retailers made extensive use of the opportunities that are provided by Messe Frankfurt at Ambiente.”

Dianne Doolaard, Trade & Shopper Marketeer for English & Crystal Living brands at Continental Europe Fiskars commented: “Seeing that this is the leading trade fair for tableware and interior design, it was of major importance for us to take part in this year’s Ambiente as a new exhibitor. We met a large number of relevant customers from the entire world and we leveraged Ambiente’s international reach to present four brands of the Fiskars Group, including our new Olio collection. We received highly positive responses to both our stand and our new products.”

Mayda Pérez, Executive Vice President of Front of the House was also very positive about the show, saying: “Measuring the success of this trade fair, we can clearly give it 10 out of 10. We’re a new exhibitor, a US company founded in 2002 with a clear focus on HoReCa channels of distribution, and we produce and design all our products ourselves. Ambiente’s clear focus on front-of-house business has greatly helped us to have a successful trade fair, so that we can grow both smartly and sustainably. Our expectations of the new HoReCa hall were more than exceeded. It really was a magnificent show for us.”

In the Living sector, Stefan Rothenberger, Country Manager for the German-speaking countries at Normann Copenhagen said: “It was really nice to be part of it all in Frankfurt again. We felt very well looked after at Ambiente 2020. We are particularly pleased that – despite the special circumstances of the storm and the coronavirus – we succeeded in reviving previous customer relationships and at the same time also managed to reach out to totally new customers.”

In the Giving area of the show, Susanne Stahlschmidt, B2C Sales Director at Troika Germany GmbH said: “We reached a large number of new international leads at Ambiente 2020. These also included exciting markets such as South America and Eastern Europe. One positive element I noticed was that we didn’t just have excellent future-focused conversations, but that some of our new customers placed their orders there and then.”

Ambiente also showed itself to be forward-looking in expanding its Dining section, adding a separate platform for the hotel, restaurant and catering industry (HoReCa). In view of the globally growing market, Hall 6.0 – newly created in 2020 – provided a perfect port of call for national and international decision-makers in the hospitality segment, including hotel chains, restaurant owners, caterers, cruise lines and airlines. This is where exhibitors presented their latest collections, inviting visitors to gain up-to-date insights into front-of-house operations. In addition, top international speakers at the HoReCa Academy provided an in-depth outlook of relevant trends in the industry. The list of celebrities included Maham Anjum, Ido Garini, Adam D. Tihany, Jozef Youssef and Dr. Francesca Zampollo. The inclusion of the specialised HoReCa range in this largest consumer goods trade fair in the world also gave buyers a unique opportunity to order not only table and kitchenware, but also products from the latest lifestyle collections in the Giving and Living halls. In this context, visitors also responded well to the daily trend tours entitled HoReCa Meets Contract, where the HoReCa specialist Pierre Nierhaus highlighted a number of new trends and design concepts from selected front-of-house exhibitors in Dining and Living.

More future prospects could also be observed in the megatrend area of sustainability. This is a field where Ambiente plays a pioneering role for the industry. Once again, Ambiente’s long-standing co-operative ventures with the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and MADE51, a project of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), produced extremely well frequented presentations and informative events. This development was also reflected in the Ethical Style Guide, a curated directory that lists environmentally and socially responsible manufacturers exhibiting at Ambiente. The latest edition includes 314 companies from 49 countries – 27 per cent more than last year.

Ambiente also provided fresh inspiration in the world of design, as the new special presentation Focus on Design put the spotlight on exceptional products from Brazil. Galleria 1 featured outstanding products from five design studios – Rodrigo Almeida, Bianca Barbato, Brunno Jahara, Sérgio J. Matos and Rain – giving detailed insights into today’s creative scene in their country. As on previous occasions, large audiences were also attracted by both the special show Ambiente Trends and the German Design Award exhibition.

The next Ambiente will take place from 19 to 23 February 2021.

Images are from companies including: Villeroy & Boch, Blue Delft, Spode, Costa Nova, Selyn, Umasqu, Bianca Barbato and Mayan Textile.