With nearly 75,000 trade visitors attending the recently concluded 2006 International Hardware Fair/Practical World in Cologne, Germany (held March 5-8), show organizer Koelnmesse, Inc. reported that this year's attendance exceeded that of the show's previous event held in 2004.

A significant increase in international visitors from 140 countries (2004: 114) reaffirmed the show's status as the world's largest and most global hardware/home improvement event in the industry. There was a noticeable rise in attendees from North America, South America, and Asia, with increases of 26%, 60% and 20% respectively. Additional international attendance increases were largely due to visitors from several Eastern European countries.

A total of 3,491 exhibitors from 58 countries filled the 2.7 million-square-foot exhibition area. Sourcing teams from Ace Hardware, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and Lowe's, as well as many independent retailers, found the Koelnmesse fairgrounds' new halls housing the builders and supplies/DIY segment to be very user friendly.

In addition, the International Hardware Fair/Practical World featured its popular and highly successful Practical World Forum, an educational event which drew around 500 participants. Other events included a networking cruise on the Rhine River, a presentation featuring renowned industry professionals, and the announcement of the BHB Customer Service Award, which honors outstanding business achievements and concepts.

While the AHMA (American Hardware Manufacturer's Association) continued with its successful pavilion at the show, the new Koelnmesse-sponsored North American pavilion featured 13 companies from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Exhibitors from each pavilion reported good traffic flow and were able to meet with the decision makers from retailers and distributors from around the world.

In 2008, the International Hardware Fair/Practical World will be held in Cologne from March 9-12. For more information, visit www.hardwarefair.com.