Messe Frankfurt remains optimistic despite business at ‘a virtual standstill’

After a decade of continual growth and an all-time high in financial year 2019, Messe Frankfurt has been forced to hit the emergency brakes owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ongoing travel restrictions with constant modifications by the individual governments have brought the trade fair business, which has proved its worth for decades on end, to a virtual standstill,” said Wolfgang Marzin, president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt.

“This meant that, in the reporting year, it was only possible to hold around a third of all events around the globe compared with financial years before the outbreak of the coronavirus. Nonetheless, the company succeeded in generating Group sales of approximately €250 million.

“We have a stable equity base and, thanks to our financial strength in recent years, have been able to secure additional funds on the capital markets, thus allowing us to safeguard liquidity. Our shareholders have pledged their full support. With a rigorous cost-saving plan, we aim to overcome this crisis using our own resources as far as possible.”

A total of 153 events took place under the Messe Frankfurt umbrella in spite of very difficult conditions – these included 52 trade fairs and exhibitions with more than 33,100 exhibiting companies and around 1.3 million visitors. International business in China recovered impressively, with enormous exhibitor and visitor counts at Messe Frankfurt events there, in many cases on a par with pre-coronavirus years.

“It will take some time before the underlying conditions in our sector are stable enough to allow us to enjoy continual growth again,” said Marzin.

“Given the developments in the second half of 2020, it is not expected at present that pre-coronavirus levels will be reached until 2024 at the earliest.”

The Group continues to run a loss into three-digit millions and has formed an agreement with employee representatives to cut costs but save jobs.

“For their part, our employees are foregoing variable remuneration components until 2022,” said Marzin.