The innovations at the coming imm cologne (14th to 20th January 2013) include the new trade fair theme "European Lifestyles" in Hall 1, where manufacturers from Rumania, Estonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia will be presenting themselves in attractive national pavilions. There will also be a joint presentation by young, innovative companies from Germany, who will be presenting themselves to a broad audience here for the first time as part of a sponsorship project initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. They will be joined by a number of strong individual exhibitors from various countries, including Germany, Portugal and Italy. With the new "European Lifestyles" concept, the trade fair has created a new attraction in Hall 1 for all buyers who are just as interested in compelling quality and sales-boosting design as they are in a convincing price-performance ratio.

For the most part, the companies represented in Hall 1 are already operating successfully in Central Europe, as is demonstrated by their performance in e.g. the highly competitive German market. Last year, for instance, Rumanian furniture imports to Germany increased by 22.6%, thus making Rumania the Federal Republic's 11th-biggest source of furniture imports. Bosnia-Herzegovina also reported double-digit growth (+26.1%), whilst the Croatians saw an increase of over 60%. The producers from these countries have been operating in other Central and Central Eastern European markets with similar success.

National pavilions showcase sales boosters

The Rumanians will be coming to the imm cologne with a wide range of domestic furniture for virtually all areas of the home and in a host of different design styles ranging from rustic to modern. The Rumanians are counting both on their wealth of experience in wood processing, which is based on the country's immense abundance of forests, and on the state-of-the-art production technologies that have entered the country's factories in recent years. All these factors play a part in the thoroughly positive development the Rumanian furniture industry has been experiencing in recent years, as is reflected in export growth of 63% in the period between 2004 and 2011.

As compared to the Rumanian furniture industry, which consists of almost 4,000 manufacturing companies, the Estonian furniture sector is more modestly sized. But after Estonia's debut national pavilion at the last imm cologne, it will be interesting to see what the exhibitors from the Baltic republic will be bringing to Cologne with them this time round. One of the most striking things about Estonia's furniture producers is their extremely varied range of products. The imm cologne 2013 will once again show that they are just as competitive in the inexpensive segment for discount marketing as they are in the upper end of the market for e.g. upholstered furniture. Estonia relies heavily on the export trade. The value of the Estonian furniture industry's exports is currently three times higher than that of furniture imports. Estonian manufacturers' success abroad mainly centres on Scandinavia – and especially Finland which, together with Norway and Sweden, accounts for almost two thirds of all recent Estonian furniture exports. At the very latest since the last imm cologne, however, the Estonians have also been focusing increasingly on Central Europe. Their as yet still modest export rates to e.g. France (2%), Great Britain (3%) or Germany (3%) thus look set to grow significantly in the near future. More than half the total area of Bosnia-Herzegovina is covered by forest. It thus comes as no surprise that the country's wood-processing industry looks back on a long tradition and its furniture manufacturers rely heavily on this natural raw material. The seven participants at the national pavilion at the imm cologne will however be demonstrating their competence in the field of e.g. upholstered furniture as well. First and foremost, the positive development of Bosnia-Herzegovina's furniture industry can be seen in the success of its foreign business. In the first nine months of this year, the country's furniture industry increased its exports by 4.4% to 113 million euros. The most important exports are wooden chairs, dining room and living room furniture, bedroom suites, other wooden furniture and kitchen furnishings. Bosnia-Herzegovina's most important foreign markets are Germany, Croatia, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Serbia and the USA. Croatia is another country with abundant forests and thus excellent opportunities for a flourishing wood and furniture industry. Helped by the country's geographical location, Croatian companies have always been strongly export-oriented. Solid wood furniture accounts for the majority of foreign sales, but the Croatian furniture industry is also increasingly turning to alternative materials as well, as its national pavilion in Cologne will be demonstrating.

Seating furniture accounts for 61% of all Croatian exports. Germany is the country's most important export market, followed by Italy and France. Around 60% of all Croatia's furniture exports go to these three countries.

Unusual eye-catchers and genuine fast-movers

But it isn't just the national pavilions that account for the attractiveness of "European Lifestyles". Individual exhibitors such as German mattress manufacturer Breckle Weida, an important provider in this product segment, or Portuguese manufacturer Gualtorres, which surprises customers time and time again with its avant-garde, sculptural furniture and standalone pieces, will also be present in Hall 1. They will be joined by Italian home textiles specialist Castello del Barro, which will be presenting its fabric and curtain creations right near the entrance to "European Lifestyles". The exhibitors outside the joint booths are aiming to surprise visitors not just with sales-boosting products with broad appeal but with flamboyant designer items for a wide range of very different niche markets as well.

Furniture and lots of service

At "European Lifestyles", the products and presentations of the exhibitors will very definitely be taking centre stage. In order to make the new focal point as pleasant and appealing for visitors as possible, the organisers of the imm cologne will be providing some attractive services during the fair, including a free shuttle service to Hall 1 and a tempting food service.

Source: Koelnmesse

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