Thessaloniki’s fair grounds in need of upgrade

After posting a profit for the first time, Thessaloniki International Fair SA now intends to give its exhibition center an overhaul, it was announced yesterday, with a relevant proposal expected to be submitted to the Economy and Finance Ministry by November. Last year was the first in which the company showed a profit since it split from Helexpo in 1999. Chairman Dimitris Bakatselos stated that profits totaled -210,000 in 2006 against losses of -517,000 in 2005, whilst net worth also rose significantly to reach -261 million. The company’s new business plan for the period 2008-2010 is for the first time being drafted by a group of employees rather than a consultancy company. Bakatselos said that it was «imperative» for Thessaloniki to acquire a modern international exhibition center immediately, otherwise, he said, «the city will find itself off the exhibition map, due to international and domestic competition and in view of the rapid developments already taking place in Southeast Europe.» CEO Nikos Kasimatis stressed that the plan for the exhibition center is being drawn up with two key factors in mind: firstly, the fact that Thessaloniki is in need of new exhibition infrastructures and, secondly, that it would be difficult for the fair to move from its current location. Other considerations, he said, are the positions and proposals of local authorities within the framework of talks held with the company in 2005. For the next three years, the company aims to emerge as the leading player in regional exhibition policy and head the region’s exhibition bodies, to turn toward sectoral events but without affecting existing exhibitions such as «Crete,» «Thrace» etc, while at the same time enhancing the port city’s recognizability as an exhibition venue. Outlining the firm’s activities during the period 2004-2006, Kasimatis stressed that the strategic plan had been 90 percent implemented. The plan aimed to strengthen regional exhibition policy and create a network of regional exhibition and conference centers across Greece. Investments exceeded -1 million in the above period, achieving a quantitative and qualitative upgrading of the two regional exhibitions, «Crete» and «Thrace.»

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