Messe Düsseldorf president and CEO Werner M. Dornscheidt steps down from role

Messe Düsseldorf, which is set to host next year’s Interpack, has confirmed president and CEO Werner M. Dornscheidt will be leaving his role at the end of this month, after nearly 17 years in his present post.

He has served the business for 37 years, with the organisation praising him for leaving a legacy of profitable, subsidy-free management, digitally-transformed operations, as well as financial stability that have bene considered as the key achievements of his tenure.

Wolfram N. Diener, Messe Düsseldorf’s managing director operative business (pictured below with the outgoing CEO), and will take over as chief executive from next month, after three years in post. Speaking on his appointment, he said: “I am delighted at the trust placed in me. We can perfectly build on Werner Dornscheidt’s achievements and jointly rise to the challenges ahead. Here in Düsseldorf we boast an inimitable brand profile that can be made even more successful through the drivers that are internationalisation and digitalisation; and what’s just as important: a powerful team.”

As a measure of Dornscheidt’s success, the Messe Düsseldorf Group closed the last full business year under his leadership with a sales increase of 28.7% to EUR 378.5 million (previous year: EUR 294 million). Group earnings after tax more than doubled in 2019 at EUR 56.6 million (previous year: EUR 24.3 million). In 2004 Dornscheidt took over as CEO of the company when the Messe Düsseldorf Group posted an ROI of 6.4% and a core capital ratio of 34.4%. Its ROI recently rose to 14.8% and its core equity ratio to 66%. The trade fair venue has also seen the development of state-of-the-art facilities in recent years.

Next year’s Interpack, which is postponed from May 2020 due to the coronavirus is set to benefit from additional investment in the venue, with a new hall dedicated for displaying confectionery equipment and systems at the event, taking place between 25 February-3 March 2021.

“Trade fairs are my life,” reflected Dornschiedt on his time with the business. “What we have built up together with my team over all those years benefits the company today. While conditions are difficult at present, it is comforting to know that ‘my’ company is in good hands. The team is already busy working on a re-start and developing further digital add-ons so that Messe Düsseldorf will also remain the successful, reputable company in future that it is today. I have made my contribution.”

According to a study by the Munich-based ifo Institute, Düsseldorf’s trade fair and congress business alone generates annual sales worth EUR 2.98 billion across Germany (in Düsseldorf: EUR 1.66 billion), securing 27,692 jobs (16,664 in Düsseldorf) and producing EUR 567 million in additional tax revenue (EUR 36.3 million). Numerous sectors of industry depend on the events – such as skilled craftspeople, exhibition stand construction companies, catering, hospitality, retail and local public transport. Dornscheidt therefore stresses: “It is all the more important that trade fair operations are resumed again quickly. My team is currently working on concepts for the re-start and I know it will succeed in doing so.”

In terms of other key developments, Dornscheidt noted the emergence of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre – created with a focus on technical facilities, as well as functionality, convenience and architecture. This was done “with a view to staying both competitive and attractive for customers,” he explained. explained. After the commissioning of Hall 1 boasting over 12,000 square metres as early as autumn 2019, this year will see the completion of the new South Entrance with its 20 m high cantilevered roof measuring 7,800 square metres. “In time for re-booting trade fair operations in autumn Messe Düsseldorf will have a new architectural highlight in the offing,” delights Dornscheidt. Up until the lockdown in March the adjacent Hall 1 had been fully booked from the outset.

At the same time, the outgoing CEO also drove the further development of digital presentation possibilities. “On our online portals our trade fairs have long been in operation 365 days a year,” underscores Dornscheidt, who said the venue has made it possible for  exhibitors to showcase their products in a multi-media format and make contact with other industry representatives, which it continues to focus upon.

Alongside the trade fair, there  are two projects, in particular, that Werner Dornscheidt made a statement with: the German House during the Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as the Save Food initiative. 20 years ago Dornscheidt was personally enlisted to organise the German House during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney by the then National Olympic Committee.

On the occasion of interpack 2011 he founded the Save Food Initiative in cooperation with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which was also joined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shortly afterwards.

The objective: to combat food losses in developed and less developed countries using economic means. Now more than 1,000 companies, research institutes and NGOs support the initiative. Commenting on this Dornscheidt says: “When you’ve been in the trade fair business for such a long time and have seen the whole world, you cannot turn a blind eye to social problems but have to assume responsibility. Talking about it is no good, you have to do something.”

Future prospects

Regarding the future make-up of its management, Erhard Wienkamp (Managing Director of Fair Management) and Bernhard J. Stempfle (Managing Director Finance & Technical Operations, Digital Strategy & Communication) will complete the Board of Managing Directors.

Dornscheidt is convinced of the new appointments to Board of Managing Directors: “Markets are shifting, the world is getting more international, digital and complex. The Covid-19 pandemic brings unprecedented challenges. Looking back on my many years of trade fair experience, Wolfram Diener, Bernhard Stempfle and Erhard Wienkamp are the ideal trio to steer Messe Düsseldorf through the Corona crisis and place it in pole position for the future.”

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