German shopfitters are too conservative

© kohlhaas
EuroShop interview with Klaus Günter, Managing Director & Partner of kohlhaas messebau

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.“ This conclusion by Aristotle was showcased by the trade fair construction and shopfitting company kohlhaas at its booth at the EuroShop. The eye catchers were countless orange globes that joined together to form a magic carpet in the room. This garnered kohlhaas from Germering near Munich, Germany, an ADAM nomination, the design prize of the business association FAMAB (Association for Direct Business Communications). Managing Director Klaus Günter is confident: branding presentations at trade fairs and events can also be implemented in shopfitting.

The ADAM Award distinguishes between different booth sizes. The larger the booth, the more room there is for the creativity of trade fair construction companies. Is that true?

Needless to say, you have a lot of options for design on a large platform. The presentation of our customer Schüco at the Bau 2011 exhibition – for which we are also nominated in the XXL category – shows that you can implement very beautiful designs and gestures on 2,000 square meters. On the flipside of this however, the room layout and use zoning program that need to be fulfilled are also larger, so that as a general rule things are significantly more complex to actualize than would be the case with smaller booths.


© kohlhaas
What actual orders resulted from your EuroShop presentation?

To be perfectly honest: there weren’t any customers who came up to my booth with a contract ready for signature. But this is also not something you would expect. We wanted to present our company to the trade experts and visitors and show how we view ourselves. I think we succeeded quite well in doing so. The person-to-person talks on location inevitably lead to more productive customer leads and contacts.

What can retail learn from trade fair companies?

I think retailers can stand to still benefit a lot from the innovative spirit of trade fairs. We are always on the cutting edge of design and the latest materials. Only those who love to try new things have an opportunity to set future trends.


© kohlhaas
How can you coordinate a trade fair or event booth and the store concept?

We can give you many examples of how we successfully adapted trade fair concepts in showrooms or our customers’ flagship stores after the trade fair is over. I mention Schattdecor as one example for this. As a global market leader, the company was an exhibitor at the Interzum and afterwards continued to share the experience of its concept with associates and customers in its in-house showroom. In doing so, a continuously changing and always modern interior is guaranteed. You continue to be interesting.

Trade fair days are over all too quickly. What kinds of trends from the halls are lasting and therefore interesting for shopfitters?

I believe that good ideas always also prevail past the duration of a trade show. At the moment any forms of interactive multimedia are trendy; a trend that definitely will continue to stick around for a bit longer. A response to your own behavior piques your curiosity and thus ideally creates interest in the product. An end to technical possibilities cannot be foreseen for a long time yet and they will actually continue to increase. It is our job to recognize these trends and to incorporate them in the overall concept for an even bigger customer success.

Are shopfitters in Germany too conservative?

They clearly are. If you take a look at shopfitting in our neighboring country Italy for example, you get the impression that there still is a lot of catching up to be done over here. In Italy they generate amenity values that turn shopping into a real adventure. The construction here basically goes along with high quality material. People for instance sense the real materials; they perceive them and project their own impression onto the contents.

What kind of cultural differences and for which countries do you have to consider in trade fair construction?

Despite high cultural diversity, you notice only marginal impact in the mindset of trade show visitors in the other European countries. The economic mentality is basically European in all of these countries. You can detect large differences to North America for example. You have to differentiate two things here. First of all the construction of booths: the traditionally very well organized unions have a significant impact on the work process for trade fair construction companies due to rigid specifications. This has an impact on the way booths are being built and happens at the expense of creativity. The second point pertains to the trade fair visitor: they show a strong tendency towards quick consumption. That’s why the enthusiasm is always significantly higher. In these markets you can still achieve a lot more in the future with creative ideas rather than simple concepts, of this I am absolutely certain.

How do you think the market for trade fair construction companies will develop in terms of mergers, specialization and so on?

Trade fair companies are very much subject to economic fluctuations in the economy as a whole. Only companies with sustainable economic management will be able to absorb the increasing cyclical amplitudes in the long run. This is not going to be decided based primarily on size but rather by lived company philosophy.

When will you begin preparations for the next EuroShop?

We will – like we always do – once again try to feel the current pulse of time. As far as our own presentation at the upcoming EuroShop is concerned, we will start with an approximate lead-time of one year to do our first market analysis.

Interview: René Schellbach,


Related articles:

Related articles: - Sustainability is still uncommon in trade fair construction

Related articles: - Sustainability in retail