Mr. Wichmann, what actually caused the financial difficulties?
The January move to Tempelhof naturally resulted in initial investments at short notice and services that we had to take over for the first time, for example in terms of logistics, fire protection, etc.; at the same time, we had less turnover, as we had considerably less space with exhibitors in Tempelhof than on the former exhibition grounds at Messe Berlin.
In view of the current situation, was it too hasty to make the move to Tempelhof in January?
Last year we had long discussions with Messe Berlin about the possibilities of continuing to use the exhibition grounds, but in the end we came to the conclusion that there is a lack of suitable opportunities there to put on an economically viable event.
The step to move to Tempelhof was therefore more than necessary, but it was certainly also a courageous one to move away from the old location–especially since the schedule for the move was then very tight and we had to implement everything within three months. But we have been rewarded for this, because with everything that can of course still be improved, there was a lot of praise from all sides. I would say that 90% of the exhibitors gave us positive feedback after the event. And I am still extremely grateful for the support of the exhibitors who were there in January.
The timing is certainly never good or somehow always feels too late. And yes, the industry as a whole is going through very difficult times, with Corona just joining the ranks. But if the application had come in April or even later, it would have been a real fiasco–for Panorama, but also for the industry.
But there is also something else that is important: As the person in charge, which is what I am as the managing director of the Panorama Fashion Fair Berlin GmbH, you don't simply file for insolvency proceedings. On the one hand, this is about our team, which has pulled a leg, especially with the implementation of the January event, and also about the obligations towards our suppliers. This is of course anything but pleasant when you have to make such a decision.
On the other hand, all this is a risky business in order not to be suspected of delaying insolvency. So when a situation of imbalance becomes apparent, I have to react. And that's what I did with the proposal. We also do not want to start a new season in an awkward position, but with a healthy new beginning.
We have written and have been talking on the phone since yesterday with every exhibitor and all the other people involved explaining the situation, and of course we are trying to get people to make a commitment.
And what is the initial response?
40-50% of the exhibitors have already indicated to us on site in January that they would sign again directly. Of course you know that this is always only a 'half yes' and we have to see how everything develops.
Of course there are sceptical voices at the moment, but for the most part the exhibitors' response is positive, they stick with us. This shows us that we have clearly worked out a mandate with the exhibitors to offer a trade fair platform again in summer.
Can you already say something about the possible new format?
At the moment we are in the process of communicating with the exhibitors. But already parallel to the January event, we have been developing ideas on how to use the airfield in the summer by creating a mix of food, music and fashion.
Already in January Neonyt was Panorama's neighbour in Tempelhof. What about synergies here?
We already worked together during the January event, sharing certain areas, such as the entrance hall, but we also coordinated in logistics–and we noticed that there are many more opportunities for cooperation. We definitely want to make even greater use of these synergies in the summer and are in permanent contact with the organizer Messe Frankfurt.
What about Messe Frankfurt as an investor?
As far as I know, no talks have taken place on this matter. We are now fully involved, taking care of ourselves and a new start.
Are there other potential new investors?
First of all, of course, the existing shareholders are willing to get involved. Beyond that and in order to possibly attract new sponsors, a healthy event is needed. Therefore, our first priority now is to reposition ourselves and present a solid and yet exciting new concept.
Does this new situation change something in the direction of a much discussed, possible cooperation with Premium?
There has really been enough talk about this already. Nothing has changed in my proposal, which I made in 2018, to organise a joint meeting place for the industry in Tempelhof.