Final report. Ambiente 2013. Dining (eng.)

The international Ambiente consumer-goods fair closed its doors after an excellent five-day run at Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre, during which 4,688 exhibitors from 81 countries (2012: 4,530 exhibitors, 88 countries[1]) presented their latest products, trends and innovations. “Ambiente 2013 left no doubt that consumption is ‘in’ and gave an impressive demonstration of its position as the world’s leading consumer-goods fair. Despite the difficult economic circumstances prevailing in parts of Europe, Ambiente was able to grow on both the exhibitor and visitors sides”, said Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

The world’s leading consumer-goods fair was opened by Germany’s Minister for Economics and Technology, Dr Philipp Rösler, and his French colleague, Sylvia Pinel. The French Minister for Crafts, Trade and Tourism came to Frankfurt for the opening of Ambiente as the high-level representative of this year’s Partner Country, France. On Monday, the grande dame of cinéma français – Catherine Deneuve – also visited the international consumer-goods fair and was impressed by the creative variety and the high quality of the products to be seen.

With over 140,000 visitors, Ambiente 2013 was distinguished by remarkable growth in the number of visitors (2012: 138,058 visitors1), which made it more than ever before the leading order platform for the coming season’s innovations and new products, and a source of inspiration for the entire sector.

Trade associations give a positive rating
According to Thomas Grothkopp, Managing Director of the German Association for Tableware, Housewares and Home Decor (Bundes­verband für den Gedeckten Tisch, Hausrat und Wohnkultur e.V.), “Ambiente was an extremely good event in all segments with interesting concepts for the specialist trade and super new products, many of them for discerning customers. The trade must have been here in its entirety.” Representatives of other sectors also gave a highly positive rating. Thus, Jens–Heinrich Beckmann, Director of the German Knives and Housewares Association (Industrieverband Schneid- und Haushaltwa­ren e.V. IVSH), said, “One can rightly say that business at this year’s Ambiente was extremely good for our sector in its entirety. And this goes not only for domestic but also for export business.” Heike Tscherwinka, Director of the European Lifestyle Association (Europäischer Verband Lifestyle – EVL) added, “This Ambiente lived up to its motto ‘be ambitious’ and confidently confirmed its position as the world’s leading trade fair for our sector. At the fair, the focus was on internationality and the crisis-proof attitude of visitors from outside Germany. The EVL members in the Dining section were very pleased with the overall result of the fair.” Lutz Graser, Deputy Director of the Association of the Ceramic Industry (Verband der Keramischen Industrie e.V.), also saw the fair in a highly positive light: “The majority of the members of our association report large numbers of visitors from both inside and outside Germany. The order situation is satisfactory and their new products have been given a good reception.”

Exhibitors praise the level of visitor internationality, number and quality
Exhibitors were particularly pleased with the increased level of internationality of the event and, for the first time, more than 50 percent of visitors came from outside Germany. The top 10 visitor nations at Ambiente 2013 were Italy, France, The Netherlands, USA, Great Britain, Switzerland, Spain, China, the Russian Federation and Austria. Thorsten Klapproth, Chairman of the Board of WMF AG, summarised saying, “We are satisfied with the course of business at the fair. All key customers were here. The process of internationalisation continues and that’s the way it should be. Nicolas Luc Villeroy, Member of the Board of Management of Villeroy & Boch AG, said, “We are very pleased with Ambiente and welcomed a large stream of customers to our stand throughout the fair. Our most important customers from Asia, North America and Eastern Europe, as well as our core markets, such as Germany and France, visited us here. He was seconded in this by Jochen H. Kürschner, Sales Manager of Leifheit AG, who said, “Visitor quality is high and the mood is good on both the national and international planes.”

Holger Raithel, Managing Partner of KAHLA/Thüringen Porzellan GmbH, is emphatic about the successful start to the fair: “From the very beginning, visitor frequency was gratifyingly good and the mood equally so. We have been able to make interesting contacts at international level. In this respect, Ambiente is still the leader among the fairs and by far the most important fair of the year.” Oliver Kleine, Managing Director of the Leonardo brand, finds people’s response to the fair “very good, especially from the international scene. We have been able to create fantastic new contacts here.” Robert van Loosen, Head of Marketing at Fackelmann GmbH + Co. KG, is equally positive about the fair: “Once again all the customers we invited are there: the Germans, the Europeans and a relatively high number from abroad. All in all, we are satisfied with business.” Oliver Zeroni, Managing Director of Le Creuset GmbH, conforms this: “We are very pleased about the way the fair has gone. In both national and international terms, we have for the most part had top-quality visitors at the stand”. Commenting on the importance of Ambiente, Michael Ring from Stelton A/S says, “For us Ambiente is the most important fair in the world. And that’s that!”

Increase in the number of visitors from Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East
Double-digit increases in the number of visitors were confirmed for the target regions of Eastern Europe (Russia and the Baltic states) and South America (Argentina and Brazil). Jürgen Wölflik, Director of Sales at Lladró, confirms this. “We still have a very high level of international customers, with very many from South America, Asia and all the Eastern European countries, who were really of a very high quality.” The world’s leading trade fair also chalked up growth rates from the economically strong boom regions in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar) and India. More visitors also came to Frankfurt from major Western European markets such as Italy and the United Kingdom.

According to one or two exhibitors, there were even encouraging signals from regions of Europe that are currently economically weak. “What is also positive is that nobody is allowing their business to be spoilt by the financial crisis and political turmoil. For example, we are witnessing a surprisingly strong visitor frequency from Spain and Greece plus a much stronger influx from African countries“, says Dr. Andreas Buske, from the Executive Board of Kristallglas AG. This is also emphasised by Beate Adler from Fissler GmbH for all sectors of industry. “The level of internationality is becoming perceptibly higher. All our contacts, even from the countries of Southern Europe, are maintaining a presence here and Greece can show sales that are in part quite astonishing.”

Bernhard Mittelmann, Managing Director of alfi GmbH, was extremely satisfied with the way the fair went: This is in every respect a tremendous fair: we are presenting strategic innovations that can be ordered direct and we are meeting with a very good response.” Gianluca Colonna, Chief Operating & Sales Officer for Rosenthal GmbH is impressed: “It is one of the best fairs we have had in the last few years. This applies to both the national and the international segments.” Dr. Martina Dibbern of Dibbern GmbH is also satisfied: “For us, Ambiente went well. Visitor attendance is good and sales are also good, especially in the home market.” Stephan Koziol, Managing Director of Koziol ideas for friends also has a positive result to report “The Koziol company is very satisfied with the situation,” he says. Ambiente was also a highlight for Richard Duff, Head of European Business for Joseph Joseph Ltd.: “This was my third Ambiente and for me it has been the most impressive so far.”

France in focus
For the French exhibitors, Ambiente was also able to reveal growth figures, in particular on account of the impetus received from this year’s partner country programme. Returnees such as Deshoulières or Royal Limoges are satisfied with their participation at the fair. Maria-Elisa Gougeon, from the Deshoulières company, which has returned to Ambiente as an exhibitor, says: “Frankfurt is the place for quality contacts at an international level. Here we can implement contacts that we do not acquire at other events, especially from Eastern Europe and South America.” This is confirmed by Danielle Lacotte, of Royal Limoges: The visitor quality is very good, especially on an international plane. We enjoy being at Ambiente; the international market is in Frankfurt. All the brands are there, and as a result so are all the visitors. The summary of the situation by established exhibitors like Arc International is just as positive. “Ambiente 2013 was an excellent fair for Arc International. It helped us to meet partners from all over the world and to inform new customers about our collections. Whether they were from the retail or wholesale trade, the hotel or catering business, we had numerous customers coming from every corner of the earth”, says Oliver B. Hasler, CEO Europe at Arc International.

Small electrical appliances with a big presence
The range of goods in the field of small electrical appliances has become even more appealing. The presence of the Braun logo, as well as the return of ProBusiness members Ritterwerk and Rommelsbacher, were very well received by the trade visitors. As Helmut Geltner, Managing Director of De’Longhi Deutschland GmbH, explains, “For us Ambiente 2013 was a historic moment. For the first time, we were able to present the Braun brand via our sales and marketing department at an international fair. You could also sense this special mood among our customers. We were aware of this in the case of our familiar trading partners, but just as much at least with the large number of new customers.” This is what Sigrid Klenk, Managing Director of Rommelsbacher Elektrogeräte GmbH, has to say about their return to Ambiente: “After a break, we are now back at Ambiente and were able to welcome visitors from 33 countries at our stand, including many new contacts. For us, this is the reason we go to a fair. In every way, the fair has been a success, because this is where we encounter the sales channels that are important to us. The difference from other fairs is that here we talk about the product, whereas at other events we talk about the price. We shall certainly be here next year again.“ Achim Cloer, Managing Director of Cloer Elektrogeräte KG, has a strong commitment to Ambiente: “We have always been Ambiente enthusiasts and we shall always remain that way. Taking part in Ambiente has a long-term strategic significance for us.“

The perfect setting for barbecue trends
In time for the coming Spring and Summer season a large number of suppliers from various segments presented a wide range of equipment relating to the barbecue theme. Included among them were brands like Big Green Egg, Eva Solo, Rösle or Weber-Stephen. „This is the second time we’ve been at Ambiente, but the first time in this dimension. Our stand in Hall 3 is in the immediate vicinity of many other high-quality suppliers of branded articles. For us these are surroundings that are conducive to an outstandingly high profile thanks to the clear focus on the outdoor segments and our premium products”, says Marc-André Palm, Marketing Director Central Europe at Weber-Stephen Deutschland GmbH. Markus Neubauer, Head of Marketing at Rösle GmbH & Co. KG is also pleased: „We feel so good here this year, because we have a much larger stand presence and of course we have given priority to our anniversary. Both of our business divisions, namely kitchen equipment, which is our traditional theme, and our new Barbecue division are represented here. In the barbecue segment we do have a certain overlap a certain overlap, especially with the barbecue specialist dealers, whom we can supply with new items and information.”

Contract Business is a very important topic among exhibitors
After its launch last year, Messe Frankfurt’s package of Contract Business measures continues to gain momentum. Tanja Ortmann, head of Communications/Marketing for Consumer Goods at the Hailo-Werk Rudolf Loh GmbH & Co. KG has this to say: “It is the ideal melting pot for international business. We do not want to miss out on the contract business programme; it is an interesting aspect of the business that is sure to acquire even more potential.“ According to Curt Mertens, Managing Director of Carl Mertens Besteckfabrik GmbH, “the contract business is already well positioned, especially on the internet. In the real world it needs to develop further, but in any case it has good prospects.“ A similar opinion is expressed by Holger Raithels, from KAHLA/Thüringen Porzellan GmbH: “As the process continues, the contract business offering needs to be sharpened up even further, but it is on the right path. At any rate, B2B is a definitely a topic worth pursuing.“ Around 250 exhibitors offering solutions in the commercial contract business used the package.

Dining trends: mixing colours and materials in every segment
Colour is important! All walks of life from kitchen to bathroom, and especially the subject of storage in the various domains, are more strongly structured by means of colour than they ever were before. Bread boxes and dust bins are just as well matched as knives and cookware. In all these areas, the prevailing colours are lime-green, yellow, orange and blue, as well as water-colour green and blue plus warm colour tones ranging from grey to ochre, petrol and shades of red.

Porcelain: from fine to functional
With porcelain, the warm white of bone china often forms the base for decorations, but there is also an undecorated version that is very attractive. Delicate blue and white ornamentation is very popular, as well as extensive colour decorations that also frequently combine pastel shades. Furthermore, there are floral and natural motifs to be found on cups and plates. Oversizes are often favoured for individual pieces. Tableware is also designed to be multifunctional and to create the link between kitchen and table. To achieve this, there is frequently a departure from classical styling and a functional design is preferred. ‘Write-on’ porcelain also makes it possible to create one’s own individual designs. In addition to colourful and functional tableware, a hint of luxury is also permitted, with increased use being made of titanium, gold, silver and metallic tints for two-dimensional or ornamental decoration to communicate that touch of understated elegance.

A range of glassware that is full of contrasts
Sets of drinking glasses are still designed to match the drinks that are served in them and are made of clear glass. For drinks served at the bar, however, cut glass and coloured glass are being used increasingly. As a drink, beer is becoming more and more socially acceptable, as is clearly indicated by the new beer-tasting glasses, or the increasing number of variations on the theme of wheat beer glasses. Gifts made of glass are also strongly colour oriented. Here, colour contrasts such as those in vogue during the last summer season combine to achieve variety and surprise effects. Fresh, intense colours like yellow, blue or orange are to be found here just as much as warm colours from the red end of the spectrum or even the blue and green ’watercolours’.

Masculine knives
Cutlery is becoming more masculine. Indicators of this trend are larger blades and handles, especially with high-quality knives. There is a new type of blade that imitates the Biberzahn (beaver-tooth) principle and is thus self-sharpening, which means the knife never needs grinding. Apart from this, cutlery is becoming very colourful, starting with ceramic knives for the kitchen to the handles of kitchen utensils.

Ceramics meet cooking utensils
An increasing number of non-stick pans and cooking utensils for use on stoves also have a ceramic coating. These no longer just come in classical black, but often in white and in some cases also in colour. With pots, colours are more muted and understated than with other household products, with the emphasis being on colour tones in nuances of yellow, orange or blue. There are initial approaches towards making sous-vide cooking accessible and available to amateur chefs. The focus is on steam cooking using special pots or inserts for cooking pots as a method of careful food preparation.

Out of doors is ‘in’
The trend is towards preparing and eating food out of doors. Barbecues are becoming more and more professional, tending in effect to become outdoor kitchens. There are also numerous accessories available for barbecuing that range from equipment for lighting the charcoal to handling the food on the grill. Eating and drinking while travelling is also a topic that is being constantly developed. There is a wide and colourful variety of beakers and bottles available for hot and cold drinks as well as boxes for break-time snacks, lunch or salads.

The sights are on singles
Small domestic appliances are also revealing touches of colour. The still largely prevalent high-tech look in stainless steel or silver and black combinations is now also enhanced by fresh colour accents such as lime-green, yellow or orange. Products such as small coffee percolators or single-round toasters are also designed with single-person households in mind.

A fresh, colourful mixture
Colour also sets the tone for household and plastic products. Lime-green, yellow, orange or even warm colours such as beige, ruby red, indigo blue or a warm grey are strongly represented. Currently there is a preference for colour and design effectively combined with functionality rather than for the ecological design of the products. Alternative materials such as bamboo or recycling products are used, especially if they fit in with the design concept. Otherwise, there are frequently combined: porcelain and wood, stainless steel and wood or even wood and stone. Here, the focus is also on design. One theme that is being worked on intensively is the preservation of foodstuffs. There is a wide variety of systems available in various shapes and sizes ranging from foldable containers to the box with a freshness guarantee.

Management report “Germany lays the table”
In time for the start of Ambiente, Messe Frankfurt published a representative survey on the subject of eating habits and fine dining in Germany. To do this, the GfK market-research institute asked just on 1,000 German citizens about their eating habits. One of the findings revealed that two thirds of Germans lay the table at the weekend for every meal. So, if time allows, meals are taken in a refined atmosphere. One further finding shows that there is a preference for purchasing the components of the well-laid table such as crockery, china, glasses and cutlery from specialist retailers or in department stores, as was indicated by 80 percent of those who took part in the survey. The study is available for downloading as a PDF file:

Ambiente 2014: Japan to be the partner country
The partner country at Ambiente 2014 will be Japan. There will be an extensive programme enabling the land of the rising sun to present itself to the visitors at the world’s leading consumer goods fair from 7 to 11 February 2014.