It was the end of the lineand an eraMay 27 for the Reifen tire trade show, which has been held every other year for the past 60 years in Essen, Germany.
The tire-focused trade fair, known to many in North America simply as Essen, is joining with another biennial conference, Automechanika, which caters to the automotive aftermarket. The first combined Reifen and Automechanika trade show will take place in September 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany.
But don't shed a tear for Reifen. The show is not ending its run in Essen because it no longer is viable. That's not the case for an event that just drew 675 exhibitors from 43 countries and nearly 20,000 visitors.
Those are hardly failing numbers.
Rather, Reifen is leaving Essen, in part, due to a competitive tire trade fair being formed by the BRV, Germany's tire retailer and retreader trade association, which had supported the Essen show for the past few decades. The new event, Tire Cologne, is scheduled to take place the same week as Reifen in 2018, had that event remained in Essen.
Having two tire-related trade events the same week and in venues 40 miles apart made no sense to anyone.
The decision for Reifen to leave its home of the past 60 years and join with Automechanika in Frankfurt is more about the changing tire retailer and commercial tire markets in Europesimilar to what has been taking place in the U.S.
It's become more difficult for tire retailers in Europe to remain viable selling only tires. To compensate for this declining income, many are adding automotive services to their operations, which is what Automechanika is all about.
This is a global trend that we see everywhere, said Michael Johannes, vice president of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition G.m.b.H., where Automechanika in Germany is held. In addition, he sees car dealers getting into the tire business going forward.
Automechanika in Frankfurt is, in many ways, Europe's version of the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas. The former is a huge biennial exhibition that drew more than 138,000 visitors from 176 nations and 4,660 exhibitors from 74 countries at its last event in 2014. Adding tires to the show makes sense, since they are a significant part of the aftermarket.
What makes the Reifen and Automechanika combination all the more promising is that the leaders of both are looking to extend their cooperation to 14 other Automechanika events in 13 countries globally, including the show in Chicago in 2017.
For now it remains to be seen whether tire dealers and tire-related exhibitors will chose Frank-furt over the new show in Cologne or vice versa. But one thing is clear: The tire business globally is changing and organizations, including trade fairs, are adapting to this new world.