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ProWein director ‘regrets’ clash with London Wine Fair

ProWein director Bastian Mingers has expressed his “regret” that his show’s new timing creates a clash with the London Wine Fair, telling db that it was “the only alternative date.”

Bastian Mingers, who heads up ProWein, is project director for wine and spirits at Messe Düsseldorf

As db was the first to report yesterday, after two years of cancelled shows, Düsseldorf-based ProWein is being postponed from 27-29 March to 15-17 May this year, with the new dates coinciding with the London Wine Fair, which is set to occur from 16-18 May at Olympia in the UK capital.

Blaming the move on the spread of the Omicron variant in Germany, Wolfram N. Diener, CEO of Messe Düsseldorf – the organisers of ProWein – said that both the fair’s “partners and associations involved” regard the early summer “as the ideal period”, citing the fact that there’s an expectation that Covid infection rates will have fallen by May.

However, as soon as news of the dates surfaced, London Wine Fair director Hannah Tovey told db that she was “confused, bemused, and angry” at the clash, describing the move as “an extremely aggressive assault on both the London Wine Fair and the UK drinks market.”

Aware that ProWein were considering postponing this year’s fair, with May rumoured to be the most-likely month for the show in 2022, Tovey said that she had repeatedly called and emailed the organisers of the Düsseldorf event to ensure that it would not coincide with her London show – which is the fair’s 40th since its foundation.

Having not had a response, she told db in an exclusive interview yesterday that she had a “sinking feeling that there would be a clash”, and expressed her dismay at ProWein’s seeming failure to take a “collaborative” approach when it comes to the setting of dates for major international wine trade events, particularly after “two years of disruption” due to Covid-19.

Having been contacted by db yesterday for a response to such sentiments, ProWein defended its decision to set a new date for its fair in mid-May on the grounds that it had no choice.

Mingers said that he was caught between a date that was late enough to be well past an expected peak of Omicron infections in Germany of early to mid-February, and before the wine producers of the northern hemisphere need to return to their properties to manage their vineyards.

He also expressed his regret at this year’s clash, which is expected to be an anomaly – ProWein is due to return to its usual March timing in 2023.

“We are aware that we overlap with the London Wine Fair in May and regret this very much,” he said.

Continuing, he said that “the rapidly spreading Omicron variant” in Germany had required Messe Düsseldorf “to move a total of five international trade shows to early summer”, giving him limited opportunities for new dates for ProWein.

He added that he has had “many discussions with representatives of the wine and spirits industry and assessed alternatives,” pointing out that the time slots for ProWein “were particularly tight because we also have to keep in mind concerns such as the vegetation cycle”.

In conclusion, he said that “the only alternative date for ProWein 2022 was this one from 15 to 17 May.”

London Wine Fair director Hannah Tovey is “confused, bemused, and angry” about the clash

With the new dates for ProWein now confirmed, this does leave those visitors and exhibitors intending to go to both shows in a difficult position.

While visitors could attend both events, with a presence at ProWein from Sunday to Monday and the London Wine Fair over two days from Tuesday to Wednesday, it is a challenging and exhausting prospect – and one that would mean missing out on a chance to take part in either show for the full three days.

For exhibitors, however, it will be a case of choosing one fair over another, or, possibly, splitting teams to manage stands and meetings at both exhibitions.

Tovey told db that there “are a considerable number of exhibitors who would be at both fairs”, and would like “to hear from ProWein first” as to what such businesses and associations should do “if they have signed contracts with both fairs, because they [ProWein] have created this dilemma”.

As for whether Tovey might be able to move the dates for this year’s London Wine Fair, she told db that it is something she plans to look in to, as much as she is loath to have to, but added that opportunities for a new timing are “incredibly limited” at Olympia, because the venue is undergoing a £1 billion development.

The new dates for ProWein also make May a very busy period for Spanish and Austrian wine producers planning to attend the Dusseldorf exhibition this year, with the German fair now occupying a position between two major events in Spain and Austria.

Spain’s largest wine fair, Fenavin, takes place the week before ProWein 2022, with the Spanish fair due to run from 10-12 May in Madrid’s Ciudad Real, while Austria’s Vie Vinum is held in Vienna from 21-23 May.

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ProWein postponed to 15-17 May

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