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Epilogue: Are We All Discredited?

The drupa dilemma has fatal effects beyond the industry

By Andreas Weber and Morten B. Reitoft 

We received voices that make us very thoughtful. 

On the one hand, there are the following considerations: Are we not bringing the print industry, which has been under considerable pressure for a long time, even more discredited if we show publicly that we cannot solve the drupa dilemma confidently and effectively? 

On the other hand, what happens seems to be a shame for Germany as a impactful marketplace. After the Second World War, drupa, in particular, brought Germany back to the fore as an economic nation, which promptly brought many visitors from abroad to Düsseldorf. From a historical perspective, with its brilliant success, drupa in 1951 made Germany acceptable again as a mechanical engineering nation and has given it a leading position to this day. 

Quite a few see Messecenter Düsseldorf here as having a special responsibility to shine through clarity and reason, rather than through delaying tactics and unreliable communication according to the motto: "Everything is good ...". 

After all, trade fair companies in Germany are leaders in the world and serve as role models. With a market share of around 60% at trade fairs in the B2B sector. 

Brief excursus 1: B2B trade fairs as the number 1 economic driver

Made in Germany has also become a global seal of quality in the exhibition and trade fair sector. Not least because of Germany's outstanding role as a national and global driver of trade fair events and a marketplace for economic success in many fields. All the major German trade fair organizers export their know-how and skills to all parts of the world. Be it through own formats or in partnerships with local institutions.

The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry AUMA collects all data relating to trade fair events. And documents that in the past few years, up to the COVID-19 pandemic, business was on the upswing. On average, € 14.5 billion was raised by exhibitors and visitors in Germany (sales with visitors make up almost a third of this) with production effects of around € 28 billion. 

For around 75% of companies, B2B trade fairs were of central or important importance for marketing communication in 2019. In the marketing mix, trade fairs are almost on a par with websites – and far ahead of other measures such as direct mailings, online sales or (secondary) advertising. In addition to Germany as the largest market for trade fairs, German trade fair organizers have strong international business and, according to AUMA, generate around 60% of global sales. 

Messe Frankfurt is consistently the market leader in terms of turnover (over € 700 million) and area (halls with almost 4,000,000 square meters) in Germany. Depending on whether drupa takes place or not, Messe Düsseldorf ranks 5th to 7th with around € 300 million to over € 400 million. If you look at the balance sheets of Messecenter Düsseldorf, drupa has had an estimated average turnover of € 100 million and more since 2004 (drupa turnover is not explicitly shown in the balance sheet). 

Messecenter Düsseldorf's net profit for the 2016 drupa year was over € 132 million (total sales in 2016: around € 442 million). However, the corona crisis will put a colossal brake on the trade fair business in terms of growth. Deutsche Messe Hannover was the first trade fair organizer to announce a drop in sales of around € 80 million for 2020 in October 2020, which corresponds to a share of sales of almost 25% compared to previous years.