Grohe pulls out of ISH over ‘unsatisfactory’ covid plan

Grohe has announced it is pulling out of ISH – Europe’s biggest bathroom trade show – because of health and safety concerns around the ongoing coronavirus situation.

In a statement, the company said the covid-19 plans put forward by the show organiser Messe Frankfurt were ‘unsatisfactory for the brand’.

The show is due to be held in Frankfurt from March 22-26.

Alongside the health and safety worries over the specific Messe Frankfurt plan, Grohe also says the covid-19 situation remains ‘fragile’ in Germany and many other European countries, making large events ‘an almost incalculable risk’.

Grohe, owned by Japanese parent company Lixil, confirmed that it is now reviewing its participation in other trade fairs in the region.

Jonas Brennwald (left)  CEO of Lixil  for the Europe, Middle East and North Africa region and co-CEO of Grohe AG said: “With great regret we have to cancel our participation in the trade fair ISH 2021 at the scheduled time in March 2021. Our customers and business partners are expecting us to create a unique brand experience with fantastic product launches and to engage with us on a personal basis during the fair. However, under the given circumstances and restrictions we don´t see this possible with a traditional fair concept.”

However, in an exclusive interview with kbbreview, Messe Frankfurt’s chief of communications Iris Jeglitza-Moshage insisted that all possible precautions are being taken in line with official advice.

She said: “We are in close contact with all firms and finding gratifying responses to the hygiene arrangements: many companies are now registering because they definitely need the platform and are thoroughly satisfied with our event concept, which covers arrangements for proper hygiene, medical questions and organisational measures in a comprehensive way.”

Both parties confirmed that they had discussed postponing the show until a later date. This was certainly Grohe’s preferred option: “We were very sorry to hear that there was no will to postpone the ISH trade fair until a later date”, said Thomas Fuhr, COO fittings at Lixil International and co-CEO Grohe AG.

“One of our company values is doing the right thing. We are convinced that in this crisis situation the cancellation is unfortunately the only right thing to do to ensure the safety and health of all involved.”

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But Jeglitza-Moshage (right) at Messe Frankfurt told kbbreview that postponement was an impractical solution as finding alternative dates is virtually impossible.

“Some exhibitors, including Grohe, asked whether ISH can be postponed,” she said. “We looked very carefully into that possibility. Now, ISH is a huge event, which – if you include setting up and dismantling – occupies the Fair & Exhibition Centre for about 30 days. We do not have such a broad timeslot in Frankfurt in Autumn, for instance. The only alternative as regards time would have been in Summer; but our sponsoring associations rejected this unanimously as unacceptable.”

Grohe is traditionally one of the biggest exhibitors in the ‘Bathroom Experience’ part of ISH, and it’s decision to withdraw with such a public criticism of something as sensitive as health and safety will naturally lead to concerns that other brands will follow.

“We are optimistic but realistic too,” Jeglitza-Moshage said. “We are in close contact with all firms and finding gratifying responses to the hygiene arrangements: many companies are now registering because they definitely need the platform and are thoroughly satisfied with our event concept, which covers arrangements for proper hygiene, medical questions and organisational measures in a comprehensive way.

“As things stand at present, numerous well-known manufacturers in the Bathroom Experience sector have confirmed their attendance at ISH 2021. The ISH team is in constant contact with them to determine how the regulations can be put into practice in a concrete way. The majority of exhibitors are adapting to the new situation and are even coping with it in a really creative spirit. We shall be announcing shortly who will be attending.”

ISH 2019 attracted nearly 200,000 visitors across the entire event – which also includes major exhibitions for the heating and ventilation sector. Jeglitza-Moshage said that they are still anticipating 160,000 to 170,000 visitors at the 2021 show.

 

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