The triennial store equipment fest begins in Düsseldorf tomorrow with a host of exhibitors and installations. Ulrich Spaan, vice-president trade shows at EHI, previews what visitors can expect to see

If someone ever thought that there was nothing fascinating about retail business, that the retail industry was everything else but an innovation driver and that something like a “Global Retail Community” might not exist, this person hasn’t been to EuroShop and should definitely take the opportunity to do so from February 26 to March 2. That’s when the once-every-three-years show will take place in Düsseldorf. And this one will be the biggest EuroShop in its 40-year history, with around 2,000 exhibitors and more than 100,000 visitors from around the globe expected to make the trip.

Whether it’s design or marketing, technology or visual merchandising, EuroShop shows innovations and visions, best practice and new technologies and gives a broad overview of how retail will look in the future. It will also provide a good snapshot of the best that’s out there. Novelty is on the agenda and will probably prove a major draw for visitors.

A focal point for many of the exhibitors in the 15 halls will be energy efficiency and sustainability. For example, LED as the future technology of shop lighting,

energy-saving refrigeration and air conditioning systems or eco-friendly materials in store design and visual merchandising. Retailers will get a comprehensive overview of the possibilities and opportunities for an environmentally-friendly future store. The new “ECO-Park” area will feature some of the most innovative solutions as well as a free seminar area.

Designer Village

Architects and retail designers have always been part of the EuroShop visiting panorama, but since 2005 they have also been part of the show. The EuroShop Designer Village, an architectural highlight, unites 22 Retail Design Studios from around the world, including, from the UK, CampbellRigg, Dalziel & Pow, Fitch, rpa:vision and Small Back Room. This will be coupled with EuroShop’s retail design conference on February 26.

For fashion retail visitors, hall 4 has seemingly endless displays of mannequins of all shapes and sizes. This year visitors will be able to wander around the newly created “MQ-Mannequin City” - an area with the capacity to help people forget they are in the middle of an ordinary trade fair pavilion. Halls 3 and 5 cover the world of retail marketing, from point-of-purchase displays to digital signage. And as in 2008, this area will be supported by point-of-purchase trade association POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International) with its Global POPAI Village featuring 15 member companies and a seminar area.

Finally, there is EuroCIS, a show-within-a-show that has become a well-known brand in the retail technology business. Although this takes place in Düsseldorf every February, it is contiguous with EuroShop and visitors can stroll around both. This year, close to 400 companies will be showing their latest solutions.

With EuroShop in Düsseldorf - Germany’s fashion capital - time should also be set aside for some strategic store visits. Edeka Zurheide Supermarket in Düsseldorf is probably one of the most exciting food stores created in the last few years. Cologne is only 25 miles away from Düsseldorf and is famous in Germany for being a “test city” for pilot and flagship stores and can easily be visited by train. Other stores in Cologne that should be on the visit list include the Globetrotter Outdoor Store and flagship stores from Diesel, Hilfiger, Desigual, True Religion and Apropos - The Concept Store.

EuroShop is only once every three years and is worth the mild dent in the travel budget. And at the end of every day, join the crowds in Düsseldorf’s Altstadt, sampling “Alt”, a local dark beer that has been the foundation of many good evenings and regret-filled mornings.