Spoga+gafa thrills in new exhibition center

Koelnmesse Entrance South and Piazza opened

Fully booked with exhibitors and recording excellent visitor numbers, Spoga+gafa 2006 was held Sept. 3-5 in Cologne, Germany, at the expanded Koelnmesse exhibition center. Close to 50,000 trade visitors from 103 countries attended the global business platform.

Spoga+gafa 2006 was held Sept. 3-5 in Cologne, Germany, at the expanded Koelnmesse exhibition center
Spoga+gafa 2006 was held Sept. 3-5 in Cologne, Germany, at the expanded Koelnmesse exhibition center

“Innovations, proximity to markets, international contacts -- everything was perfect for visitors and exhibitors,” said Oliver P. Kuhrt, executive vice president of Koelnmesse.  The new exhibition centre enabled a restructuring of the product groups at Spoga+gafa -- a step that has met with unanimous approval from both visitors and exhibitors alike. The 2,456 suppliers (77% from outside Germany) came from 64 countries and occupied the entire exhibition center, presenting new products in the five new product groups – Outdoor Living, Indoor/Outdoor Ambience, Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Technology and Equestrian Sports. Despite capricious weather and tax increases, there was confidence across the board. The garden market, which has been knocked about by this year’s capricious weather, is hoping for a revival in the market as early as this autumn. “Convenience, status and health -- these three trends will decisively affect the garden market over the coming years, albeit to differing extents,” said Dr. Gerd Müller-van Ißem, managing director of the Industrial Association of Garden Equipment Manufacturers. “The wealth of ideas, innovative power and the feeling for new movement within the sector on the part of the exhibitors at Spoga+gafa 2006 make me confident that our sector will continue its successful development.” Upbeat mood in Outdoor Living area
The Outdoor Living area presented a very upbeat mood, strong enthusiasm for innovative collections and an impressive international character.  Exhibitors were satisfied with the strong attendance figures and impressive qualifications of the trade visitors from around the world, whose numbers included long-standing customers as well as many new visitors discovering the fair for the first time. Exhibitors welcomed buyers from the full spectrum of sales channels, including a growing number from the specialist furniture trade who were on hand in response to the continuing popularity of high-quality indoor/outdoor furniture. Wicker is expected to be a trend for the 2007 season. Demand continues to be strong for combinations of materials like wood, wicker, woven textiles, stainless steel and aluminum, as well as colors that were a hit at Spoga, like classy black and pure white, in addition to nature-inspired tones including apple green, orange, aqua and blackberry. Grilling and barbecuing enjoying huge popularity
Enthusiasm was high among large-scale producers and specialists in high-price barbecue segments. In Germany, charcoal grilling is still the most popular form of barbecue. Here, the need for replacement was often fulfilled by gas barbecues, which are slowly gaining market share. Suppliers of charcoal and barbecue fuels are resisting the trend, for example, with ready-packaged compact briquettes that, when ignited without additional firelighters, produce glowing coals in just 15 minutes. Outdoor kitchens are becoming an increasingly important part of manufacturers’ product line-ups, although forecasts indicated their sales potential is rather limited. “The trend in grilling and barbecue is clearly towards higher-quality products,” said Kurt Schlieper, managing director of the Grillverband barbecue and grilling equipment manufacturers association. “Gourmet grilling is very popular. The fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, however, will remain a marginal, though important, segment.” Schlieper said there will be price increases, particularly for products that are dependent on petroleum or are affected by the higher raw materials prices for stainless steel. The head of the sector’s trade associations expects the trade to post good turnover in the remainder of this year, due to consumer purchases made in advance of the sales tax increase scheduled to take effect next year. Koelnmesse presented awards during the show to the three products judged as most innovative in the barbecue products and accessories category. Napoleon received first place for its Prestige 2 with gas infrared burners. Second and third place went to Riedl’s mobile cooking station and Outdoor Chef’s St. Tropez outdoor kitchen, respectively. In the accessories category, Camping Gaz received first place for its camping cooker; Thuros Handels & Co. second place for its barbecue top, and Jepson Trading third place for a starter. Spoga 2007 will be held Sept. 2-4, 2007. For more information, visit www.spogagafa.com

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