There was a real buzz in the halls as Eisenwarenemesse, the biannual Cologne hardware show, opened its doors yesterday (March 4).
Although the show is far smaller than in the heyday of the 1990s, it still occupies no fewer than 11 halls of the vast Kolnmesse complex, and as always, the show statistics are staggering, with a total of 2,657 exhibiting companies from 50 countries. China has the strongest representation with no fewer than 882 exhibitors, followed by Taiwan (409) and Germany itself (387).
The mood among exhibitors and visitors feels buoyant, backed by strong recovery in German economic conditions. According to FWI, the German tool industry association, its members increased total sales in 2011 by 11.3%, employment in the industry rose by 5%, and nearly 40% of member companies describe current market conditions as favourable. BHB, the German DIY retailers’ association, is more cautious, reporting total sales growth of just over 1% in 2011, but the Central Association of the Hardware Trade is forecasting growth of 4.5% once all 2011 data is analysed.
British exhibitors reported brisk business – not least Toolbank, making its Cologne debut as an exhibitor under its new Toolbank Export division, and majoring on its Faithfull and Olympia house brands. Little more than an hour after the show opened on Sunday, Toolbank had seen buyers from more than half a dozen markets outside the UK.
Black & Decker’s Dutch distributor is showing the company’s all-new range of garden tools: long-handled digging tools, shears, secateurs, loppers, rakes, trowels, axes, saws, sprays and sprinklers and so on – and not an electric motor in sight. Some of the range appears to be available with Stanley branding too – as does a range of wheelbarrows.
It’s a first full-scale showing for Apex Tools, the new company formed by the merger last year of the tool divisions of Cooper and Danaher. The Apex range embraces more than 30 brands, including the former Cooper names like Crescent, Porter, Lufkin and Weller, as well as Danaher brands like Allen, GearWrench and Jacobs. Among the products on show is a last-minute prototype of a ratchet-action adjustable wrench, one jaw of which is spring loaded to enable it to release even when locked onto the nut.
The show runs until March 7.