Exclusive Interview with Stephan Kurzawski, Senior Vice President of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
Messe Frankurt GmbH is scouting for potential Myanmar companies to exhibit at an annual international consumer goods exhibition in Germany.
Messe Frankurt GmbH recently presented a five-day showcase by the name of Ambiente from February 10 to 14, which was held at the Frankfurt city, a prominent financial hub in Germany.
Ambiente is the international summit meeting of the consumer goods industry which is an annual trade fair in every February. This year, Ambiente hosted 142,000 buyers from 154 countries (2016:135,988 from 142 countries), an increase of 4 percent on the previous year. There, 4,454 exhibitors from 96 countries who presented the latest trends and innovations on 308,000 square meters in 27 exhibition halls in the Messe Frankfurt arena, which is as wide as a ten-soccer fieldslaid out in a line.
Myanmar’s Bella Interiors-BI that produces and exports a spectrum of crafted rattan furniture and accessories returned to the 2017 Ambiente for second time.
Mizzima’s senior reporter Aung Thura went to Frankfurt and met with Stephan Kurzawski, Senior Vice President of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH to discuss Ambiente and the work his company is doing to encourage Myanmar companies to join the annual fair.
Aung Thura: Can you tell us briefly what is Ambiente?
Stephan Kurzawski: Ambiente is the biggest consumer-goods show in the world.It has three major parts:Giving,Living and Dining.And we have visitors from more than 150 countries and exhibitors from 96 countries. So, it is the most international show that we have globally. We have to collect and bring these exhibitors to this show together with a huge effort. We have many sale partners all over the world, we have sale partners from 150 countries, who are doing the acquisitions and marketing for our Messe Frankfurt shows here in Frankfurt, and the rest of the world. Can you imagine how long you will have to travel to 150 countries? It takes more than five months. So, the reason is the world market here. They are coming, you do not have to go. It is a contact to the world, not to Frankfurt, not to Germany.
Innovation and inspiration play a vital role in the Ambiente, the show. Is that right?
We have several things to do if we want to be successful in this show. The first one is to give inspiration; it is a tool for buyers so that it can inspire the buyers to buy new products. Next step is innovation, the exhibitors here show their products innovated and in addition, we have education. We have some courses and lessons, the buyers can learn how to market, how to put things to introduce them. Not only buying and selling,but innovation, education and inspiration.
What are the criteria for exhibiting at the Ambiente exhibition hall?
In these three categories, we work together with sale partners; they select exhibitors who could fit into Ambiente. They must know quality and design. Sometimes they could see the products which are ready to export. Here in Frankfurt, you can do your business not only in Germany but also in the world. So, youhave to be ready for export. When the buyers come here and they like to buy your products, they will demand 5,000 pieces of your products, but if you just have five, that is not good.
How do you encourage the exhibitors to produce more innovative products?
Most of them know about inspiration and innovation. They come to Ambiente and show their products, but you must know that every product is not successful in Ambiente. Of course, the company and exhibitor have to realize to check what kind of products are here and to which market they fit. Something will be a fit for European market or Africa and so on. So, you have to learn and you may make preparations. Ambiente is not the backyard of the small house, it is for the world market. For this reason, you have to learn ahead (of the event), if not, you could fail in your investments.
Can you tell us which countries are the most active in the Ambiente show?
The biggest exhibitors are from Germany, it is normal. And it is followed by China; it stands in number for many years. The rest are Europe, US and Great Britain and so on. But I cannot judge the most active countries. Sometimes we can see small applicants from say Burkina Faso and sometimes, the exhibitors come from China or Germany. Most of them want to do business and they need something new innovative and of quality.
Myanmar participated in 2016 for first time and it returns in 2017 while Thailand , Vietnam and Indonesia have been here for years. How do you view the involvement of companies from Myanmar in Ambiente?
When we think that a country is ready, we set up a representative office in that country so that we can get direct contact to the market. In Myanmar, we opened our representative office in Yangon tow and a half years ago and we have working operations in Myanmar. When we had a feeling about Myanmar as a potential country, we sent people and we collected information of which companies could qualify for Ambiente. We collected them and put them together.
Bella Interiors-BI is one of the representatives from Myanmar at Ambiente, but there are many Myanmar companies which are interested to join Ambiente next year, so how do you foresee the presence of Myanmar companies in the near future?
We are in close contact with team mates. So, I do hope three to eight companies from Myanmar will come and participate, but we make sure depending on their products whether they are ready to export or not. If not, this does not make sense. If their products do not qualify for export, they will fail and they will waste money.
What would be your advice to Myanmar manufacturers and exporters? Design or mindset?
It is a difficult question. As for me, I do not want to discuss about design, but I could deliver design for every market, not for a specific market. It should be neither for Germany nor Africa. First thing you think about what and for whom, second is you make sure your marketing for everyone must be okay. Because this Ambiente exhibition is huge, there are around 4,500 exhibitors. So, find your way into the giant show and some visitors will find you and they buy your products. In fact, you need preparation ahead, don’t come to Ambiente for the purpose of finding buyers. Make your preparations and learn the lessons and then there must be hopefully the right buyers to whom you can deliver your products.
What are your commitments to Myanmar?
It is quite simple. We opened the representative office and we worked two times (for two exhibitions).We have strong commitments because Myanmar is not just a corner of Germany, it takes a long trip, but we believe in this country.