By  on May 25, 2005

BERLIN — German trade fair organizers are striving to balance the demands of consistency and change in an increasingly competitive and pressured market.

Domestic market conditions remain difficult, with consolidation continuing in both the manufacturing and retail sectors. Hard hit by dwindling consumer spending and a weak economy, the remaining players are faced with tighter-than-ever budgets and limited manpower on one hand, and a dizzying array of shows, venues and order-writing dates on the other.

In these times of uncertainty, there's a palpable yearning for trade show stability, continuity and the comfort of the known among both buyers and exhibitors, countered by a yen for newness, innovation, inspiration and surprise, especially on the part of non-German retailers and apparel producers.

Bread & Butter's surprise announcement that the show was going to Barcelona, however, caused a major uproar. Instrumental in turning Berlin into a hot fashion fair destination, Bread & Butter featured about 500 men's and women's urban streetwear and cutting-edge brands in January and drew more than 40,000 visitors to Berlin's Spandau Kabelwerks in spite of tightened entry requirements. But with Barcelona in the offing, could it be that Berlin is already passe?

According to Bread & Butter, no. Although the logistics will be grueling, Bread & Butter is staging a season kick-off with about 600 brands in Barcelona July 8-10 and then a second show in Berlin with approximately the same number — but not necessarily the same brands — July 22-24. Bread & Butter will call the vintage halls of the Barcelona Fira home for the next two years. The Berlin Spandau location is secured through 2008.

"The question was how to keep the show exciting," said Bread & Butter president Karl-Heinz Muller, referring to the Barcelona move. The idea was to inspire buyers by allowing them to experience different cultures, as well as to tap into a new retail and manufacturing audience.

According to Bread & Butter spokeswoman Danielle de Bie, "We feel we can reach a lot of additional retailers from France and southern Europe [in Barcelona], and there will be more brands from southern Europe there because it's easier now for them to come. We see Barcelona and Berlin as two strong platforms," she said.

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