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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » October 1, 2010
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Number One in Munich
October 1, 2010   
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Krzysztof Kiljański, director of the Polish office of Germany’s Messe München International company, which organizes the Expo Real international commercial property and investment trade fair in Munich, Germany, talks to Witold Żygulski.

What are Polish exhibitors going to show at this year’s Expo Real?
This will be the largest Polish presentation since Poland took part in the fair for the first time. That happened in 2000 and the only stand Polish exhibitors occupied was a mere 50 square meters in size. The Polish participants were three local governments and two private companies. This year, the Polish display will be arranged on an area of 1,100 sq m, which is also a lot more than last year, when Poland occupied 800 sq m.

The number of Polish exhibitors almost doubled in 2005, after Poland joined the European Union. As the organizers of the Polish exhibition, we also saw an upsurge of queries from potential partners across Europe. EU membership continues to ensure Poland’s steady expansion in Munich through, for example, EU grants awarded to regions for promotion.

Not including Germany, the host country, Poland has become the number one country at Expo Real in terms of the number of exhibitors and exhibition space. This year, we have 60 exhibitors, including 40 local governments and 20 private companies. This year, there has been a remarkable increase in the activity of provincial authorities for which participation in Expo Real has clearly become part of their marketing strategies. Up to now this would only happen occasionally. Last year, for example, very good stands were arranged by Warmia-Mazuria and Kujawy-Pomerania provinces. This year, there will be several large displays. Lubuskie province is coming to Expo Real for the first time and will have a large stand. Kujawy-Pomerania, Wielkopolska, Mazovia and Silesia provinces will have presentations as well. Silesia will be the largest exhibitor from Poland this year, occupying a surface area of 209 sq m in the best, central location with a reception desk of its own. The Silesia section will host the official opening of the Polish Expo Real display, attended by deputy economy minister Ryszard Baniak, the economy minister of Bavaria, and the CEOs of Messe München International and Expo Real 2010.

The number of Polish exhibitors at Expo Real grows with each year. As usual, Poland’s largest cities, including Szczecin, Gdańsk, Warsaw and Poznań, will have their sections, but smaller cities are emerging as well, and this year will mark the Expo Real debuts of the cities of Zabrze, Nowe Miasto and Skwierzyna.

This is the first year that the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ) is taking part in Expo Real. At a large stand , the agency will showcase five provinces in eastern Poland, which are the easternmost regions of the EU. Using EU funds, the agency is organizing presentations for individual provinces and cities, 14 entities in total.

This will also be the first Expo Real with a separate information stand of the Polish embassy in Berlin. The embassy will provide all kinds of information on Poland that may come in useful for potential investors and partners in joint projects.

As an organizer, I have to say that the Polish stands get more professional with each year.

What do you think is the reason behind this high turnout of Polish exhibitors? Is it the geographical proximity or is it perhaps the quality of the event that is the decisive factor?
The latter definitely comes first. The event’s stature has for years been praised by Expo Real participants, who particularly appreciate the professional nature of Expo Real. MIPIM in France, the other most important trade fair in Europe, is traditionally attended by senior officials and executives. In Munich, senior officials are there as well, but there are many more officials and business people at the medium level, which radically facilitates working contacts and to-the-point talks.

Many also emphasize the international dimension of Expo Real, as, alongside exhibitors from Germany, there are exhibitors from Britain, Italy, Spain and more recently, France. Many Polish exhibitors say that the first time they met with investors was in Munich.

Quality and location aside, the third main strength of Expo Real is its superb organization and infrastructure. Still before the event begins, the exhibitors’ profiles can be viewed in a catalogue and online. There are no technical limitations either. At MIPIM, for example, the exhibition hall has a much lower ceiling. Polish exhibitors obviously appreciate the excellent network of air, road and railway connections with the area. An extra benefit for all is the famous Oktoberfest beer festival.

How fast can contacts established at Expo Real result in actual business deals?
I cannot really tell which projects were made possible by contacts which began at Expo Real, but from what I have been told by exhibitors, especially those who have been returning for years, I gather that talks in Munich helped them find contractors to build a supermarket, a sewage treatment plant or a sports venue. Expo Real only lasts three days and so hardly any contracts get signed on the spot. Contracts are negotiated later on by Investor Service Offices at the local government of a given city. The process usually takes months. Sometimes, however, Polish developers arrange with their customers to hold a spectacular signature ceremony for the final contract during Expo Real.

What do you think will be Polish exhibitors’ interest in Expo Real in the coming years?
I believe that provincial authorities will go on using Expo Real as a venue to demonstrate what their regions have to offer. I also expect new exhibitors and among those, financial institutions are very much anticipated. Polish banks have not been very active at Expo Real so far, but visitor lists have featured growing numbers of banks. The same is true of law firms, as there has been a clear rise in the interest in the legal aspects of investors’ operations in Poland. This is why it is so good to see the involvement of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency, as the agency has the biggest expertise in this area.

It is worth mentioning that last year, Expo Real resisted a sharp decline in popularity that could have resulted from the global crisis. The fair only lost around 10 percent of participants and this year it is back to its pre-crisis statistics.
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