It was ironic that, after the cancellation of the 2021 edition of R+T Stuttgart due to the pandemic, I should arrive in Stuttgart last month with a cold 10 times worse than my experiences with Coronavirus. Fortunately the weather was on my side, with temperatures in the mid-single digits a welcome relief after the minus 17 I encountered at the previous show in 2018. The show started on Monday, a day earlier than previous editions, and initially it seemed like most visitors missed the memo with the halls and passageways much quieter than I remembered. Was this the “new normal”? Had the pandemic and the rise of video conferencing done away with the need for the world to travel to south-west Germany every three years? 

Well the answer was a resounding no, as I and others found out on Tuesday and over the rest of the week. This is not to say that things were as they were six years ago. Australians turned out in good numbers to R+T Stuttgart 2024 with over 700 attending, although this was slightly down on previous shows. And the faces were the same. This was the thing that struck me. They were the same. Six years older and a global pandemic behind them but they were still there. And tired. Well at least the Australians. Six years on and the jetlag and the long trip seemed to weigh many down this time. The experienced visitors took a surgical approach, in and out, then off to see suppliers in another country. 

The Australian exhibitors however, and exhibitors in general (see page 22), were ecstatic at the outcome of the event. Visitors at the show were there to do business. And whilst many Pilsners were consumed on stands during the day and into the evening, these were to catch up with customers after a long hiatus, celebrate partnerships, and new business. On Wednesday the show faced a major hurdle with the news of a tram strike. This wouldn’t normally be a concern for Messe Stuttgart because it also has a rail connection, but this was also shut for the length of the show as Stuttgart tries to connect its antiquated rail system better with the rest of southern Germany. Inside the halls you wouldn’t have known about any strike, or closure, as the stands were full of visitors. However, post-show, taxi queues stretched to over two hours with many abandoning their evening plans in order just to make it to their hotel for the night. 

The week continued on at full throttle on Thursday, however it was apparent by now that Rollease Acmeda’s absence had left a big hole in Hall 7 and a lack of a meeting place for many Australian visitors. Around the halls stand quality had gone up another notch with large video screen integration throughout, and in Hall 6, huge tension roofing systems and umbrellas stood out. 

Exhibitors in the Asian hall had lifted their game, with many stands rivaling their European counterparts, some of which are starting to show their age. Eco-sourced fabrics are now a must in a collection, not just a unique selling point. Engineered roof systems have skipped miles ahead of what is available in the local market in Australia. Vertical curtain systems are multiplying, everyone has a zip blind system and more DC motors are coming (much to the annoyance of many industry veterans). Friday was public day and the day most visitors hit the road. Some went skiing, some went to visit factories, others went straight home. Almost all will be back in three years. 

Editor & Publisher

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