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International Hardware Fair India: an Essential Part of Koelnmesse’s Growth Strategy 

The world’s most prominent hardware trade fair Eisenwarenmesse, also known as International Hardware Fair, Cologne, is finally stepping into India. Its Indian offshoot ‘International Hardware Fair India powered by Eisenwarenmesse’ will be held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi during 2-4 December 2023, marking the expansion of organiser Koelnmesse GmbH’s hardware franchise. Besides the parent fair in Cologne, Koelnmesse also holds hardware shows in Shanghai, China and Bergamo, Italy, besides the Asia Pacific Sourcing show in Cologne. 

In this exclusive interaction with Sourcing Hardware, Koelnmesse’s CEO Gerald Böse explains why India is an attractive marketing destination for international players, and how the Indian show aims to be the platform to facilitate the country’s emergence as a global hardware manufacturing hub. 

Koelnmesse, which ranks among the top 10 show organisers in the world, has a 400,000 sqm state-of-the-art exhibition and conference facility in Cologne, and holds nearly 70 trade shows and other events annually at home and overseas. 

What is your assessment of the Indian hardware sector, and its prospects?

From a macro perspective, the global hardware sector enjoys favourable economic momentum. This is largely driven by the Asia-pacific region and emerging markets like India. If we just look at the hand tools market, the industry is set to grow at 4.1% CAGR globally over the next couple of years, according to a recent Hand Tools Market report. This growth is primarily supported by a surge in the construction industry and infrastructure development in developing countries such as India, Indonesia, Brazil and others. 

Increased adoption of industrial hand tools, move towards urbanization, and the nation’s goal to be self-reliant, bodes well for the Indian hardware sector. Moreover, India is also positioning itself as a hardware manufacturing and trade hub for companies and nations to diversify their supply chains, offering stability amidst turbulence.      

How do international hardware and retail brands view India as a market? How can Koelnmesse contribute to their increased engagement with the Indian economy? 

I am convinced that the first edition of International Hardware Fair India powered by EISENWARENMESSE in December 2023 in New Delhi will show the importance the international industry attaches to the Indian market. The hardware fair in Cologne has been providing important persuasion and networks for decades. We at Koelnmesse will continue to do so. India is an essential part of our global brand strategy in the hardware segment. It gives our exhibitors access to the Indian sales market. The Indian visitors are confronted with a globally oriented offer. This is a win-win constellation from which the industry in India also benefits to a great extent.

Multi-outlet retailers have played a major role in the development of hardware businesses across countries. However, no significant organised retailer has emerged in India yet. Do you think this impedes the growth of the Indian hardware sector?

In short, we don’t see the absence of an organised retailer as a major impediment to the growth of the Indian hardware sector. You might be right, it has helped and served other markets well. But each market is different and should adopt its local characteristics to seek growth. As facilitators of some of the most important marketplaces – globally – fostering the hardware community, our role is also to build awareness for global best practices to support the sector’s growth. We’ll continue to do that at International Hardware Fair India.

From an international perspective, which are the categories where the Indian industry has a strong position in the changing supply chain scenario?

From the information gathered from our Indian exhibitors serving the international and domestic hardware sector, we’re able to better understand the global competitiveness of the Indian industry. Currently, it would be too early to comment anything concrete with so many moving parts in the global supply chain mix. Nevertheless, there are some categories of products – spanners, bench vices, pipe wrenches, leather tool bags – where the Indian market would feel comfortable competing globally, potentially filling a supply chain gap in the future. 

Make in India and Make for the World are key agendas of the Indian government and industry. What role does Koelnmesse hope to play in furthering these agendas?

Considering India’s imperative to become a $5 trillion economy in the near future, we believe the International Hardware Fair India is well positioned to bring international networks to India and facilitate relevant business connections, adding a major boost to the ‘Made in India for the World’ government initiative. The trade fair will also enable the Indian industry to build global partnerships and encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in line with the nation’s economic agenda.  

What will be the key features of the International Hardware Fair India? What investments are you planning to make in terms of finance, talent, infra, alliances, etc, for building this event into a global sourcing and marketing destination?

In short, International Hardware Fair India aims to be a focused event for the hardware community and embed German standards and local values in facilitating the marketplace. This trade fair is an extension of our globally respected brand – EISENWARENMESSE – and internationalisation efforts in a key market. 

We’ll allocate the necessary resources – talents, finance, associations – and work closely with our Indian and international colleagues to successfully launch and grow our trade fair in India. Developing this trade fair into a global sourcing and marketing destination for the hardware sector will only happen with sustained efforts and support from multiple stakeholders, including trade publications like yours.   

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