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Responsible Gardens: Q&A With spoga+gafa Director Stefan Lohrberg

In four short weeks, the biggest garden and barbecue trade fair in the world, spoga+gafa, will kick off in Cologne, Germany. Before the show, which takes place June 16-18, director Stefan Lohrberg shared with Hardware Retailing about the opportunities in the industry and how spoga+gafa is helping retailers take advantage through the theme “Responsible Gardens.”

Hardware Retailing (HR): What distinguishes spoga+gafa among other industry events?
Stefan Lohrberg (SL): The green industry has experienced challenging months. Nevertheless, it is closing ranks and the mutual exchange that occurs at the spoga+gafa is equally important for everyone. Joint ideas have to be developed and solutions found. The trade fair offers exactly the right setting for this purpose and conveys security, stability and a sense of “being at home.” As a platform for innovations, the trade fair defines trends, offers access to the international market and provides first-class networking opportunities.

HR: Which current challenges or opportunities are you observing for the garden and barbecue industry?
SL: To start with, the season is going better than expected, especially the hardware segments. For example, furniture and barbecues are catching up, and the figures are more positive. We are noticing this among others from the bookings for the trade fair, which are still taking place a few weeks before the trade fair, which means the halls are continuing to fill. 

Nonetheless, there are still high warehouse stocks and the weather conditions are currently clearly challenging in many parts of Europe. These themes are additionally causing companies concern, but the industry is capable of using them as opportunities by pushing innovations and opening up new markets. I am convinced that the garden, balcony and terrace sector will also bring forth outstanding products in the coming years. And these will be presented at spoga+gafa in Cologne this year and in the future. 

HR: Which new trends or highlights can visitors expect at spoga+gafa this year?
SL: “Responsible Gardens” is the top theme, and together with the exhibitors, we aim to promote the joy in responsible gardening and present sustainable solutions. Hence, we will be addressing important themes like resource-saving gardening, fairly-produced outdoor furniture, user-friendly garden tools, efficient barbecue technologies or climate-friendly garden care and irrigation. 

I would also like to accentuate the barbecue section this year. This is where spoga+gafa’s first Coolingworld is located, a small, special event zone for active and passive cool boxes. There is a high demand for this theme from the specialized trade and large-surface outlets. Vendors will be presenting their interpretations of open-air adventures in spaces under 500 square meters, which is an area that will become significantly more relevant over the coming years within the trade as well as at the trade fair.

Photo: Koelnmesse / spoga+gafa / Stand: Monolith, garden bbq, Halle 8

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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