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Messe Frankfurt back on course for growth

19 Dec 2022

Messe Frankfurt is back on course for growth again after the pandemic restrictions were eased in April of this year. Approximately 52,000 exhibitors and 3.3 million visitors attended the 310 events held during the year under the Messe Frankfurt umbrella. The Group is expecting sales to be in the region of €450 million, compared with €154 million in the previous year. Now that the master plan for the Messe Frankfurt exhibition grounds is being brought to a successful close, the focus of investment is on three key areas: new trade fair concepts, digitalisation and sustainability.

On presenting the Group’s preliminary figures for financial year 2022, Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, said: “Face-to-face interaction – our core business – is needed and is in great demand. The importance of this for the sectors we serve can be seen from the sheer number of events, the consistently high level of customer satisfaction and the clear international component.”

Stephanie Wüst, Head of the City of Frankfurt’s Department of Economy, Legal Affairs and Reform and newly elected Chairperson of Messe Frankfurt’s Supervisory Board, emphasised: “As shareholders, we give our full support to Messe Frankfurt in its strategic orientation. The measures initiated by top management enable the trade fair venue and the Messe Frankfurt brand to evolve in a way that is both sustainable and future-oriented. This strengthens the international competitiveness of Frankfurt as a trade fair centre and, of course, will also benefit local and regional business. As well as this, these measures enhance Frankfurt’s international appeal. The City of Frankfurt is committed to Messe Frankfurt and its conviction to strengthening it is also set out in the Coalition Agreement.”

As Tarek Al-Wazir, Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development, stressed: “Messe Frankfurt’s workforce has demonstrated great creativity and stamina, with very impressive results. The next step is to continue the successful course to which it has returned and to prime Messe Frankfurt for the future. After all, we are not only in the throes of an energy crisis but also in the middle of a transition towards climate-friendly business practices. With its high degree of innovation at international level, Messe Frankfurt is the ideal place to drive forward this economic change around the world – this is a challenge but an opportunity at the same time.”

Strong event performance after restart and strategic reorientation
A total of 310 events were held under the Messe Frankfurt Group umbrella in financial year 2022, featuring almost 52,000 exhibiting companies and attended by 3.3 million visitors. Some 80 events around the world were cancelled or postponed owing to the after-effects of the coronavirus. Around 73 percent of exhibitors at Messe Frankfurt events in Frankfurt came from outside Germany, as did around 57 percent percent of trade buyers. Marzin: “We currently expect consolidated sales for financial year 2022 to be around €450 million.” The Group result after tax will be in the region of €-30 million, due among other things to the first quarter being lost to the pandemic, to loans being repaid and to the sale of a property being factored in.

Speaking about the Group’s strategic reorientation, Wolfgang Marzin said: “Over the past two years, we have learnt a great deal and shown a lot of courage. We have tried things out, selected the most suitable ones and are now concentrating on what is relevant and are able to optimise the quality of our events and services.” After key decades of specialisation, internationalisation and advancing digitalisation, in which Messe Frankfurt stepped up its role as one of the world’s leading trade fair companies, the company is now on the cusp of the next major developments. The company’s aim is to speed up its digital modernisation and to turn its events into an exclusive B2B hub for the various sectors throughout the whole year.

Regarding the digital optimisation of events, Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, explained: “We are taking our content management to the next level by developing and operating year-round communication platforms. The speed and intensity of these programmes are determined by the needs in each of our sectors.” Today, Messe Frankfurt’s customers are already benefiting from the global reach of its events. Braun: “Systematic data-driven marketing is the next step for us. This means that, in the future, relevant customer information will be collected even more effectively in a single database and used to market our trade fairs.” Messe Frankfurt will invest in a state-of-the-art IT structure to increase its operational efficiency by optimising processes, to further improve its security standards and to equip its events with modern products, services and tools. Uwe Behm, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, adds: “The digital master plan, the scope of which includes all structures and areas within the company, has been around for quite a while but could not be implemented owing to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sustainability is another central part of Messe Frankfurt’s corporate strategy. The company has completed an ESG rating (Environmental, Social and Governance) for the first time and has already received a bronze medal. Messe Frankfurt is also aiming to be the first company in the event sector to secure a certificate from environmental management system Eco Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS). Messe Frankfurt will conduct the obligatory energy audit until November 2023 and then measure its progress every year from then on. In past years, the Group has already undertaken a series of voluntary commitments relating to sustainability, such as the United Nations Global Compact, the Charter of Diversity and the ‘fairpflichtet’ sustainability code. As well as supporting the sustainability initiatives of industry associations AUMA and UFI, Messe Frankfurt has signed the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge.

The completion of Hall 5 and its official opening in early February 2023 mark the end of the master plan for the Frankfurt exhibition grounds. This was conceived for the period 1998-2022 and involved an investment volume of more than one billion euros. As Uwe Behm sums up: “Our halls are not only architectural landmarks in the heart of the city but all meet an equally high technical standard as well. By optimising its exhibition grounds, Messe Frankfurt is making a clear commitment to Frankfurt.” The exhibition venue can be used in full in both in the east and west of the exhibition grounds and is ideal for large-scale events and for several events taking place simultaneously. This allows the exhibition grounds to be utilised at maximum capacity.

Given the encouraging performance of events in recent months and the customer bookings for next year, Messe Frankfurt is looking to the future with optimism – presuming, of course, that all events will be allowed to be held as planned.

Background information: Sustainable Messe Frankfurt
The Messe Frankfurt Group is one of the world’s leading trade fair, congress and event organisers with their own exhibition grounds. With a workforce of some 2,200* people at its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main and in 28 subsidiaries, it organises events around the world. Group sales in financial year 2022 were around €450 million*. We serve our customers’ business interests efficiently within the framework of our Fairs & Events, Locations and Services business fields. One of Messe Frankfurt’s key strengths is its powerful and closely knit global sales network, which covers around 180 countries in all regions of 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 using our digital expertise to develop new business models. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. Sustainability is a central pillar of our corporate strategy. Here, we strike a healthy balance between ecological and economic interests, social responsibility and diversity. For more information, please visit our website at:
With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent).
*preliminary figures for 2022