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Thomas Russell

spoga+gafa draws more than 36,000 trade visitors

Garden trade show spoga+gafa has closed its doors for 2012. Altogether, 36,300 trade visitors from 103 countries traveled to Cologne for the "green" sector's trend show. The proportion of visitors from abroad was 58%.

"In terms of the number of suppliers and visitors attending the fair, spoga+gafa remains very stable," said Katharina C. Hamma, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse GmbH. "At the same time, however, thanks to numerous innovations, the uniqueness of its products and the high quality of the event, the trade fair has been strengthened in its role as the leading international garden and leisure trade fair."

On 235,700 square meters of floor space at the exhibition center, 1,975 suppliers from 56 countries presented their goods and services for making the garden a more attractive, more practical and more comfortable place to spend time.

"Once again this year the number of international manufacturers has been remarkable, as has the quality of the products on display," Hamma said. "In conjunction with the attractive supporting program, spoga+gafa has created the perfect foundation for the business success of our customers."

The perfect place for doing good business

Along with the extensive range of products offered by exhibitors, the target group-oriented supporting program offered ample opportunities for information gathering. Things were also pretty "hot" this year at the Grill Park hands-on area, according to a press release. The Barbecue Industry Association Grill (BIAG e.V.) not only presented the latest products for barbecuing in the trend forum but also provided professional tips at the "Veranda Talks" event.

Useful information for vegetable and herb gardening as well as modern methods of plant protection were on the program in Plant Park. At TASPO Talk, which was presented by Haymarket publishing, experts discussed various themes including "Fit for sustainability - how can the ‘green' sector improve its position?" In addition, as the communication center for the VDG (Association of German Garden Centres), Plant Park attracted numerous trade visitors. It also marked the close of the International Garden Centre Congress on Sunday with the Garden Centre Day event.

The "garden unique design contest," which debuted in 2011, was almost twice as big this year with 283 entries. Reto Togni, with his outdoor kitchen "Canorta;" Marco Gottardi, with his table and chair ensemble "LINEA;" and Manfred Makedonski, with his "bottle cooler" and "bottle stand" received awards for their interpretations of the theme "Dining Outdoors."

This year spoga+gafa again recorded a high number of qualified trade visitors, confirmed by the results of a visitor survey. More than 90% of the respondents were involved with procurement decisions - 43% of them in a pivotal capacity. The feedback from trade visitors was also positive. Around 80% said they were satisfied or very satisfied in terms of achieving their goals at the fair.

The BSI (Federal Association for German Sporting Goods Industry), which is the conceptual sponsor of spoga+gafa, also has a positive outlook for the future.
"This year the weather hasn't really been good - neither for the leisure industry nor the sporting goods industry," said Désirée Derin-Holzapfel, president of the BSI. "However, we did have a good start to the current selling season. A focus on high quality, innovation and environmentally sustainable products and production processes has also been rewarded by the market. That was also something you noticed at spoga+gafa."

"With the large number of trade visitors from abroad, spoga+gafa has underscored its claim that it's an international trade fair," said Johannes Welsch, CEO of the IVG (German Garden Association Industry), also a conceptual sponsor of spoga+gafa. "Despite the current economic situation, the high level of interest shown by trade visitors demonstrates that the garden is still an important theme and has a lot of potential."

"spoga+gafa 2012 has once again demonstrated that it is both in tune with the trends and open to change," said Dr. Peter O. Wüst, chief executive of the BHB (Federal Association of the German DIY, Building and Garden Specialist Stores). "The product assortment in the garden and leisure sector continues to become increasingly diverse and extensive. Consequently, the halls are becoming even more interesting and colorful. That fits in with developments in the sector and the demands of the trade. But the core of a trade fair remains the exhibitors and the customers. That's why it was important that there were new exhibitors and that the technical sector was more strongly represented."

CEO Norbert L. Jedrau of the Barbecue Industry Association Grill (BIAG) said barbecuing will always be a perennial favorite at spoga+gafa.

"The BIAG member companies enjoyed lots of high-quality talks with visitors about the future," he said. "These talks were very important for the BIAG and its members, who gladly took advantage of the opportunities on offer."

"Over 90 international top level buyers came to spoga+gafa. We have consistently received positive feedback from our members," said John W. Herbert, general manager of the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA). "They are particularly pleased with the level of international diversity and the high decision-making authority of the visitors. And it was especially nice to see so many important brands like Wolf Garten, KETTLER and Weber at spoga+gafa."

According to a survey taken by Peter Botz, CEO of the VDG (Association of German Garden Centres), the supporting members were at least as satisfied or more satisfied with spoga+gafa compared with last year.

"In general we can look back on a successful spoga+gafa," he said. "We leave spoga+gafa with a good feeling and we're looking forward to next year. We plan to work together with Koelnmesse to give the VDG a higher profile and make it more informative so that it can contribute to the success of spoga +gafa."

Casual, cool chic and sustainable power on trend for 2013

The focus at spoga+gafa was on casual, cool lounge chairs and pillows as well as playful creations which invite a person to sit down and relax - while also scoring points for their high quality and design.

Barbecuing is also becoming an even more comfortable activity. The trend is toward complete barbecue centers and built-in barbecues that are designed to fit in with the style of the garden. In order to make the outdoor fun last into the evening as long as possible, outside lighting decoration is making a stronger showing.

The trend toward brand names in lawn and yard care equipment continues. The overall theme for all equipment is sustainability. More and more, manufacturers are taking into consideration the entire life cycle of a product. Individual pieces of equipment are also scoring points by being quieter and producing lower levels of CO2. The gardening tool sector is focusing on user-friendliness. Manufacturers are paying closer and closer attention to making their products adjustable to fit the individual requirements of consumers.

Outdoor accessories and decorations are a must for outdoor fun at home. Romantic patterns, bright colors and sculptural forms are likely to be popular next season.
At the same time, there is a revival of interest in vegetable gardens and orchards. In line with this development, manufacturers are creating systems for gardening in the city. With the help of artificially lit indoor greenhouses or ecological urban garden systems, city dwellers also have the opportunity to grow their own food. Environmental protection remains the leading trend in the area of plant care.

spoga+gafa 2012 by the numbers

In 2012, a total of 1,975 companies from 56 countries took part in spoga+gafa (compared to 1,787 companies from 57 countries in 2011). Of these, 81% (2011: 80%) came from outside Germany.

Altogether, 360 (339) exhibitors and 8 (10) additional represented companies came from Germany. The equivalent figures from abroad were 1,571 (1,408) exhibitors and 36 (30) additional represented companies. Including the estimates for the last day of the fair, 36,300 (36,300) visitors were registered at spoga+gafa 2012 from 103 (111) countries. The proportion of trade visitors from abroad was 58% (59%).

All figures were calculated in accordance with the guidelines of the Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics.

spoga+gafa 2013 will take place in Cologne from Sept. 8-10.

Further information is available at www.spogagafa.com.

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