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ProWein Preview: The Brits are coming!

Published:  09 March, 2015

Downtown Düsseldorf will be the place to be this March as ProWein opens its doors to hordes of international buyers - with the Brits increasingly first in the queue. Here is what you can expect for arguably the largest drinks tradeshow in the world.

There is no sign of the momentum behind ProWein waning. The international wine and spirits exhibition is now in its 21st year, and it has had to expand its exhibition space by nearly 14% to cater for increased demand from suppliers and producers around the world.

Even seasoned ProWein visitors can expect a completely different show this year as it is moving the entire exhibition across the car park to cover exhibition halls nine to 17 and the 5,500 exhibitors.

But with the halls now situated in a natural circular route navigation should be easier and there hopefully be fewer hapless visitors wandering from hall to hall in search of some distant producer.

Michael DegenMichael DegenMichael Degen

But ProWein's organiser, Messe Düsseldorf, is aware the changes could come as a surprise to producers when they arrive. "With the shift of ProWein from Halls 1 to 7.1 into Halls 9 to 17 it is important to realise no exhibitor will be in the same location as last year," says executive director, Michael Degen.

The different halls, however, will continue to be split by nation and region so visitors should quickly feel at home.

But wherever you wander, you can expect to bump in to a familiar face from the UK wine and spirits trade - be it in the exhibition halls themselves or out in the bars, restaurants of Düsseldorf's Old Town. In fact, quietly sipping a drink and watching who is out dining and drinking with who is a good way of keeping up with the latest comings and goings in the UK drinks industry.

It was not always that way. It is only in the last three years that ProWein has become arguably the most important show in the European exhibitions drinks calendar.

Key UK audience

The UK now makes up 6% of all visitors to ProWein, making it one of the top five visiting countries at the show. Last year over 1,300 members of the UK drinks trade made the trip.

"We want to see more and more people coming from the UK," Degen says. "All the big supermarkets and big chains are coming to ProWein. The more they do, then the more the rest of the trade will follow."

But importantly, he stresses, ProWein is also seeing more visitors from UK independent wine merchants, restaurant operators and smaller regional wholesalers. "That is good news for us," Degen says. "It is not just the top 10 buyers coming. We are seeing good organic growth from right across the UK."

He adds: "The hope is people in the UK hear so much about ProWein that they have go to and see it for themselves."

Last year 11% more visitors did exactly that - with more international buyers attending than in previous years. ProWein believes its new show in Shanghai, China is attracting more visitors from Asia who are keen to see its main show.

Of the overseas visitors to last year's show, 45% were from outside Europe compared to around a third three years ago.

Like what they see

Those who come appear to like what they see, with 97% approval ratings in ProWein's post-exhibition research for 2014.

Noticeably 68% of visitors surveyed said they had found new business and suppliers to work with at the show. If they do, it is likely to be with a non-German producer as 88% of exhibitors are from outside the host country.

Degen says it is vital visitors really plan out their time when coming to ProWein, such is the scale of the event. Even for a regular visitor,  its size can be daunting.

Degen is also promising more "rest" and "lounge" areas to help with meetings and networking at the show.

Meanwhile, Messe Düsseldorf  has confirmed that ProWein has been scheduled to miss the Easter week until at least the year 2020. The organisers recognise this to be a crucial factor for both exhibitors and visitors.  

Oh, and visitors to this year's show won't have to put up with special ProWein song that was commissioned for last year's 20th anniversary show.

So you've no excuse now.

The facts

Where: Düsseldorf, Germany

When: March 15 to 17, 2015

Visitors: 55% from Germany, 45% international

Exhibitors: 82% of exhibitors are international; 18% from Germany; 50 countries represented;  

the UK is in top five with 6% of visitors