2,600 Companies to Exhibit in Cologne

Three months left before world's premier tool show returns to Cologne, March 4-7, 2012; German industry remains upbeat.

The 2012 International Hardware Fair runs March 4-7, 2012 in Cologne, Germany. With three months left go before the fair begins, the industry and trade associations participating in The International Hardware Fair (INTERNATIONALE EISENWARENMESSE) report improving business conditions throughout the year. Although growth has become less dynamic since the summer, sales have continued to rise for the German tool industry, the DIY and hardware trade, and the industry for construction, home and garden products. The associations expect to obtain additional momentum from The International Hardware Fair, which will be held in Cologne March 4 to 7 2012. Around 2,600 suppliers from 50 countries have registered to take part.

According to the Association of the German Tool Industry (FWI), sales in the German tool industry amounted to €3.4 billion in 2010 — 25 percent higher than 2009. Following a 16.8 per cent increase in the first half of 2011, the rate of incoming orders has declined somewhat since July.

In the first half of 2011, the export business increased by 15.7 percent year over year. Europe continues to be the German tool manufacturers' most important sales market, with 55.7 per cent of its total exports going to EU countries. In addition, exports to these countries increased by 15.6 percent. The tool producers belonging to the FWI are in an upbeat mood, with more than 60 per cent of those surveyed saying the current status of their business is "satisfactory", while 38 per cent described their business performance as "good". Two-thirds of the tool manufacturers surveyed expect their business situations to remain stable between now and the spring of 2012. A third of the tool manufacturers surveyed expressed concern that the economy may weaken.

A similar picture is painted by the Central Association of the Hardware Trade (ZHH). The upswing continued in the first half of 2011, although the growth rates in the production-associated trade were considerably higher than in the hardware retail trade. The hardware and household equipment retail trade grew by about 4.5 percent — driven by power tools, fastening technology, small electrical appliances, household equipment and security technology. According to the ZHH, consumer purchasing improvements seen so far in 2011 are expected to continue until the end of the year, even though it is still too early to predict the effects of the eurozone debt crisis. Business is therefore expected to grow in 2011 as a whole.

In the first half of 2011, the economic upswing in Germany also led to sales increases between 7 and 11 percent to manufacturing end-user customers. Sales for the construction fittings segment increased by 7.5 per cent in 2011, a figure that was better than expected.

The tool trade recorded a sales increase of 11 per cent in the first half of this year. There was growth in all product groups, with especially strong increases in the safety/PPE, operating equipment, tools and industrial supply segments. The ZHH expects that the slowdown in growth that began in the summer will continue. However, because the order books are full, the association expects manufacturing sales to post further growth in the coming months.

The International Hardware Fair Cologne will be open to trade visitors daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from March 4 to 7, 2012. For registration, travel and lodging information, visit