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An interview with: Stephan Koof (REWE) and Christian Koßmala (LIDL) about the new trade concept “Grand Plaza” at EXPO REAL 2016

Part 2/3 of our series on “Grand Plaza”

You have both known about EXPO REAL for years – but you, Mr. Koßmala, are returning to the fair this year with LIDL and you will be heavily involved. What, in your view, distinguishes EXPO REAL from other industry fairs and events?

Christian Koßmala, LIDL: For LIDL, EXPO REAL is the most important date in the real estate calendar. This is “real” business: Important decision-makers speak about specific projects, make or deepen contacts and collect new ideas. The international flavor of the fair is also important for us as a global company.

Mr. Koof, do you wholeheartedly agree with your colleague here? What makes EXPO REAL stand out for you as a long-standing participant?

Stephan Koof, REWE Group: Unlike Lidl, we have now been attending for 10 years straight. For us expansion also means stability – and for this we need EXPO REAL: This trade fair is like nowhere else – you can meet lots of important contacts in no time at all and in a relaxed atmosphere, e.g. at one of the numerous evening events, and also intensify discussions and contacts.

For LIDL, EXPO REAL is the most important date in the real estate calendar”

– Christian Koßmala, CEO of LIDL –

In your opinion, how significant is the topic of commercial real estate within the real estate and investment industry?

Koof: Commercial real estate – and here we’re talking in particular of that relating to supermarkets – has lately been in growing demand and, in these times of changing markets, represents for you an asset that is very resilient. Many commercial properties used for food retail are situated close to the population and are therefore doubtless less affected by online trade.

Koßmala: Commercial properties are essential for attractive cities. Trade often assures frequency in the inner cities. Other industries can also be successful in this way. This is perceived by the municipalities in tax revenues. A healthy trade structure also plays an important role in a person’s choice of residence – it maintains and creates jobs.

In your view, why does it make sense this year to present the topic of commercial real estate at Europe’s largest B2B trade fair for real estate and investments with for the first time its own networking and exhibition area?

Koof: The wide range of players with many decision-makers is what makes EXPO REAL so interesting in this regard.

Koßmala: The stand reflects our ambitious goals for expansion. And we want to show the cities that our new concepts have the flexibility to align our interests with yours.

EXPO REAL is essential for the expansion of REWE“

– Stephan Koof, Area Manager at REWE

As co-initiators you have both played a major part in driving the “Grand Plaza” project forward. What motivates you to be so actively committed to EXPO REAL?

Koof: As an advisory board member of EXPO REAL, I see it as my duty to contribute to further developing the fair with new ideas from outside. Bridging the gap between the plaza or food courts in shopping centers to the fair was achieved relatively quickly. I was very pleased that my idea proved popular with those in charge of the fair. All exhibiting retailers in Hall C2, where REWE has also been represented for years, will benefit from the greater frequency. I am also expecting an increased interest from people wanting to be exhibitors.

Koßmala: We too were won over by the “Grand Plaza” concept straightaway. A colorful, lively marketplace, surrounded by various retail formats that capture the real situation in many cities exceedingly well. Here, business partners and colleagues can meet, hear the latest news, discuss trends or simply have a snack break. The better the concept comes across, the more successful our actual trade fair presentation will be.

And what in your view makes the “Grand Plaza” so innovative?

Koof: Counter question: Have you ever seen this kind of concept at a fair?

Koßmala: The “Grand Plaza” brings together lots of important aspects for visitors, combined with the informality of a marketplace, giving the visitor maximum freedom.

An important part of the “Grand Plaza” exhibition area is the market stalls. Give us an idea of what can be expected.

Koßmala: The market stalls will primarily be serving refreshments to our visitors. Those running the stalls have all put together a varied menu – there is something here for everyone!

Koof: We too are taking part with our brands REWE to Go, Oh Angie (the REWE gastro-concept) and REWE Weinfreunde – with great products that can also be taken away. There are numerous seats for visitors to communicate with us about these.

We are also looking forward to contributions from your companies in the program of events that includes kick-off speeches and Q&A sessions. Mr. Koßmala, what will the talk from LIDL entitled “City Development and Trade” be about?

Koßmala: We would like to work on new concepts with the cities that benefit both sides. We will be introducing projects where the desire of the cities for less land consumption has been aligned with our requirements for modern supermarkets.

Mr. Koof, Mr. Telek Schichmanov, Executive Vice President of Administration / Services at REWE Group, will be speaking about “REWE’s new trading strategy”. Could you give us a sneak preview?

Koof: “Everything under one roof” is definitely a good heading. Wait and see!

And a personal question to finish: What are you most looking forward to at EXPO REAL?

Koßmala: You spend the entire year only communicating via e-mail or telephone with many of the participants. Here, I can chat face-to-face about business, but also catch up on all the gossip.

Koof: I am particularly looking forward to the big “Grand Plaza” party on the first evening of the fair with a DJ, beer and hopefully lots of guests!

Mr. Koof, Mr. Koßmala – thank you for talking to me!

The last post of our three-part “Grand Plaza” series will be available shortly:

In Part 3, Isabella Bayer from the EXPO REAL team will give us an insight into the architectural and logistical challenges of the “Grand Plaza”.

Already online: Part 1 “Retail property at EXPO REAL”

Stephan Koof

© Meta Welling

As the area manager, Stephan Koof has been responsible for national expansion, leasing and property management at REWE since 2006. Before that he completed his studies in economics and a trainee program at a textile chain store and was then employed in various leadership roles for site and enterprise development.

Christian Koßmala


Christian Koßmala is the Managing Director of International Real Estate at LIDL and has been working for the company since 2001. He is in charge of portfolio management and real estate systems.

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