Nuremberg Exhibition Center is back in the fast lane – Bavaria

They have met three times so far, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, each time in Frankfurt am Main, in Kap Europa, a congress center of the exhibition company. The first time there were 650 visitors, in 2019 there were twice as many. In 50 lectures and panel discussions, they debated “Legal Tech” and “Compliance Tech”, whether and how digitization will change work in law firms and in courts. After a break due to the pandemic, the new edition of the Legal Revolution trade fair will not take place in Frankfurt at the beginning of March, but in Nuremberg. With a thematic focus that outsiders would not necessarily immediately associate with the judiciary, which is often accused of being cumbersome: the implementation of artificial intelligence in jurisprudence.

For Roland Peter Ottmann and Roland Fleck, the Legal Revolution symbolizes two things. Firstly, the Nuremberg trade fair company’s concept of concentrating on small but promising developments and sectors and creating trade fairs that start small and ideally become large and important. The best example is the Biofach, which grew from the regional organic show to the world’s leading trade fair for the organic economy. With the concept, they made it among the 15 largest trade fair companies in the world within a reasonable period of time. Secondly, Ottmann and Fleck, the two managing directors of Nürnberg-Messe, also see the Legal Revolution as proof that their company has put the Corona-related break behind it and is starting again.

A “strong comeback” was made in 2022, says Fleck, “we are picking up the pace again and closing the development gaps caused by the pandemic as hoped”. All of a sudden, Covid stopped the record hunt at NürnbergMesse “and forced us from the fast lane to the emergency lane in a fraction of a second”. But now things have picked up speed again: 250 million euros in sales last year, plus several trade fairs that had more visitors, more exhibitors and more foreign participants than before the pandemic. We are still a long way from the record year 2018 with sales of 315 million euros, “but the compass needle is pointing up again,” said Fleck, alluding to the logo of the Nuremberg trade fair company. 2022 was “the year of the trend reversal,” he says. After the “biggest crisis in the company’s history” with a drop in sales to 110.3 million (2020) and 68 million euros in 2021. And 2023? “We are very optimistic, the booking figures are excellent.”

Pride, satisfaction, relief – the mix of emotions in the management level of the company, which is supported by the Free State of Bavaria and the City of Nuremberg, also includes its own personnel policy. The Nürnberg Messe Group employs a good 1000 people. The trend is rising, and not only in sectors such as catering and trade fair construction, where seasonal workers are used a lot. Fleck’s colleague Peter Ottmann is relieved that no one had to be made redundant during the pandemic, despite the empty exhibition halls for months. During this time, the employees developed digital and hybrid trade fair formats, promoted international business and made sure that customers – especially exhibitors and trade associations with whom they work closely at trade fairs – did not leave the flag out of frustration.

Only in China things are still going badly

It has only been somewhat normal again since March 2022 at the exhibition center in the Langwasser district; “The major growth driver in 2022 was our home location,” says Ottmann. After all, the year was enough for 82 events there. 44 percent of the exhibitors came from abroad. The trade fair company organized a total of 138 trade fairs and congresses with almost a million visitors. Of the 250 million euros in sales, the company generated 40 million euros abroad. Records were even set in Brazil, Greece and India; only in China was and is still going badly as a result of the Corona policy there.

The prophecies at the beginning of the pandemic that the resulting change to digital exchange would undermine, if not destroy, the core business of trade fairs, namely the personal exchange and meeting of people, turned out to be wrong. Hybrid formats are in demand that enable both presence and digital formats. They master these mixed forms in Nuremberg, which explains the optimism for 2023, which is also expressed in numbers. There will be ten new fairs, including the aforementioned Legal Revolution. Nürnberg-Messe is investing 40 million euros this year, not only in the purchase of additional measurement formats, but above all on its own site.

By the middle of the year, all the lighting in the halls, offices and logistics buildings will be switched to energy-saving LEDs, a total of 18 kilometers of cables. Photovoltaics will be installed on the hall roofs and connected to an energy storage system. In March, Fleck and Ottmann want to present the concept for a hybrid power plant, the construction of which will begin in 2023. When the “energy offensive,” as they call it, is over, the exhibition center will be 90 percent self-sufficient in terms of electricity and energy supply, says Fleck. In view of the five million euros in energy costs to date, this is also an economic issue.

The toy fair starts this Wednesday in Nuremberg, which is organized by the cooperative of the same name and is therefore “only” a tenant of the actual fair company. However, both are closely related. The toy fair has been held in Nuremberg since 1950 and soon there was a shortage of space. So, in 1969, the Nuremberg city council decided to look for a suitable exhibition center – and found it in the Langwasser district. Since then, 16 exhibition halls plus an open-air site have been created there, totaling 180,000 square meters of exhibition space. The exhibition center was inaugurated 50 years ago.

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