The COVID-19 pandemic – with the associated cancellations and postponements of trade fairs and conferences – confronted the NürnbergMesse Group with unprecedented challenges in 2020. To guide the company through the crisis as successfully as possible, we speedily adopted plans for savings that cut our costs across the board. With heavy hearts, we postponed investments we had long been planning at our exhibition venue, along with the associated major developmental steps for NürnbergMesse.
A key factor in our crisis management was the social insurance programme of subsidised shortened work schedules for our staff, known as Kurzarbeit, which we introduced as early as the spring of 2020. This was the first time in our history that we employed this option, and we were also the first German exhibition company to do so. With the broad support of our team, who made an invaluable and enterprising contribution towards NürnbergMesse’s future, this programme proved to be an extremely effective safeguard during the crisis, and we want to warmly thank every member of the staff for their backing. Our commitment to reduce costs allowed us to conclude fiscal 2020, the year of the pandemic, with a result far better than might have been expected. Even though we had to cancel or postpone 65 of the 86 trade fairs around the world that we had planned for 2020, the NürnbergMesse Group still generated sales of EUR 110.3 million, rather than the projected EUR 350 million.
Now these partnerships have also proved to be a major anchor ensuring our stability in the industry’s stormy, crisis-pervaded present.
We can attribute the fact that we managed the crisis so well thus far to the constructive collaboration between management and the works council; to broad mutual support from teams and operating units; and to the strong cohesion of the #NMfamily on a strong foundation of well-established corporate values. Partnership – not just amongst all levels of the company but also in communications with our clients and partners – has been a mainspring of our dynamic corporate growth throughout our long and successful history. Now these partnerships have also proved to be a major anchor ensuring our stability in the industry’s stormy, crisis-pervaded present.
But 2020 was not just a year of crisis for our company; it was also a year of learning. We have acquired three key lessons from the developments of the past year. First, people want to maintain a dialogue, so trade fairs will always be with us. Second, trade fairs will be different in the post-COVID era from the way they were before. And finally, future trade fairs will be neither analogue nor digital but rather a hybrid of both. That realisation has triggered the creation of numerous new digital platforms and events over the past year. And all of them have helped guarantee that NürnbergMesse will stay true to its responsibility as a growth engine for the economy (new ifo Study, pp. 26-27) and will continue “creating experiences, connecting people, and managing knowledge."
Our Annual Report 2020 is named for the third ingredient in our formula that defines the future: “Managing Knowledge.” It highlights a key service that trade fairs provide. In keeping with our new event concepts, for the first time we are releasing this Annual Report in hybrid form – with inspiring stories in the printed magazine and our key financial performance indicators in the “smart” digital version.
With warm regards,
Dr. Roland Fleck and Peter Ottmann
Header: NürnbergMesse / Ralf Rödel