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Trade Show: Messe Frankfurt – History

1948 - Starting out on the road to becoming a global player

The basis of the modern-day Messe Frankfurt and a game-changer stimulating German foreign trade – in short, an event with enormous economic and psychological impact: the Export Fair in Frankfurt in 1948. The first autumn fair following the end of the Second World War celebrates its 70th anniversary on 3 October.

October 2018

3 October 1948 in Frankfurt am Main. The starting shot is fired for the Export Fair in Frankfurt, the first event following the end of the Second World War. Around 2,000 exhibitors from 32 industry sectors across Germany and Europe present all kinds of goods. The show attracts 300,000 visitors and orders are placed worth 600 million DM– making at least ten per cent of the economic output of the three western occupation zones at the time. Export orders from all over Western Europe, from the USA and Canada, South America, Iran, South Africa, India, China and Afghanistan stimulate German foreign trade. This paves the way for Messe Frankfurt’s rise to become one of the world’s leading trade show companies.

During the post-war years, the economy grows exponentially. The trade shows expedite this development, and the trend for specialisation reflects the increasing diversity of the goods on offer. The ‘Frankfurt Principle’ of organising the goods into groups, established in the 1920s, continues to be refined. The trend was set in motion in 1959 by Interstoff, a trade fair for apparel fabrics. In the textile industry, home and household textiles received their own trade fair in 1971 with Heimtextil, a spin-off of the 1971 Spring Fair.

While Messe Frankfurt Group events profiled themselves as the flagship events of their respective industry sectors, in the wake of 1980s globalisation Messe Frankfurt was the first trade fair company to resolutely expand its internationalisation and globalisation strategy
In 1987, Messe Frankfurt organised its first ever foreign trade fair: Interstoff Asia in Hong Kong. This early move into global growth markets paved the way for a development to which the company owes its leading international position.

70 years later, Messe Frankfurt is the world’s highest-grossing trade fair, congress and events organiser with its own exhibition grounds. With its high sector know-how, the company covers a wide brand portfolio with over 140 leading trade fair formats at some 50 locations worldwide. In the textile industry, Messe Frankfurt links the leading international textile trade fairs at around 50 events worldwide in the Texpertise Network. Today, the latest themes, trends and contacts already attract more than 22,000 exhibitors and 523,375 visitors from all around the globe.

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For additional information, see:

Press release: 3 October 1948 – the starting point on the road to becoming a global player


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