Bordeaux International Fair, an exceptional 2021 edition

The Bordeaux International Fair happily announced its 2021 edition after a year and a half of absence. It was to be held from 6 to 14 November 2021. However, to everyone’s regret, it will be postponed again. It will therefore still be necessary to wait to tread the stands of the International Fair of Bordeaux. Indeed, the next edition will take place on the traditional date, that is to say from 21 to 29 May 2022. This postponement was announced in a press release on October 1, 2021. The director of the Production Division of General Public Events & Development, Frédéric Espugne Darses explains the cancellation conditions. Despite a positive recovery, the organization of the fair remains complicated.

Indeed, for some traditional sectors and pillars of the fair, it is worth noting supply difficulties or travel difficulties. In this context, the organization of the fair does not make it possible to offer a sufficiently rich offer to visitors. Thus, the next edition will take place in 2022 for a revisited fair. The objective of the next edition is to offer new content while keeping the fundamentals that make the International Fair an unmissable event.

A postponement of the 2021 edition taken with positivity

In 193 days should therefore take place the next international fair of Bordeaux. In order to make a point following this year’s missed edition, the Bordeaux International Fair has decided to give a voice to professionals. They represent, traders and craftsmen, major brands or producers. Thus, exhibitors give their opinion on the current context. They address the difficulties or opportunities they encounter in their respective sectors. Among the testimonials, Wolf Stolpner, President and CEO of Grand Litier, takes stock of the bedding market. He notes that at the end of the lockdown, consumers have been looking more closely at how to furnish their homes.

Thus, the bedding, furniture, decoration and DIY sectors have found new opportunities with the new needs of consumers. For the latter, the Bordeaux International Fair represents a real opportunity to forge links with its customers or to acquire new ones. The Bordeaux International Fair is therefore an excellent way to develop the reputation of the brands. Wolf Stolpner considers the postponement of the 2021 edition with positivism. It will lead to a real desire to find each other better and to share better with the traders on site. It is therefore only part of the postponement for a recovery in all serenity.

The 2021 edition of the Bordeaux International Fair

The Bordeaux International Fair is preparing to reopen its doors from 6 to 14 November 2021. After a year and a half of successive postponements due to the health crisis, the historic public show returns with grandiose animations. Enough to finally reward the work of the teams following months of twists and turns. To tell us about this exceptional edition, as well as the challenges of such an event, BORDEAUX Business spoke with Fabienne LE SCORNEC. Director of the general public fairs for Congress and Exhibitions of Bordeaux for 3 years, she tells us the challenges of events, a sector that is both very strategic and operational.

fabienne le scornec CEB congress exhibitions bordeaux
Fabienne LE SCORNEC, Director of Consumer Trade Fairs for CEB, Director of the Bordeaux International Fair

Covid-19, a blow for the teams of the Bordeaux International Fair

Normally, the Bordeaux International Fair is held in May, in early spring. Thus, with the announcement of the confinement in March 2020, the show was canceled at the last moment, after nearly a year of organization. A situation experienced by all, particularly complicated in the event industry.

Financially, CEB has been able to keep its head above water thanks to state aid. On the other hand, human management has proven to be more difficult. Despite the lockdown, the general management has endeavoured to keep as much contact as possible with the teams, to keep them informed. Like many companies, CEB quickly sought to return to work by equipping employees to enable them to work from home in good conditions. Currently, they oscillate between working in the office and teleworking. The Bordeaux International Fair will therefore be the first public exhibition of Congresses and Exhibitions of Bordeaux to be held for many months. A culmination and a relief for professionals who have done their best to organize a covid-compatible edition. But also for visitors, eager for original outings.

Fabienne LE SCORNEC explains that, in the case of the Bordeaux International Fair, the exhibitors were very understanding. The human is all the more important as the Fair has brought together loyal exhibitors for decades. It therefore maintains a link with each of them, endeavouring to deliver information transparently and with as much anticipation as possible. Congrès et Expositions de Bordeaux has also worked not to place the financial risk on their clients. Despite the large sums at stake, the Fair has given its exhibitors the choice either to reimburse them or to keep their deposits for the next edition.

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Exhibitor stand of the Bordeaux International Fair – Photo credit: Bordeaux Congress and Exhibitions

Bordeaux International Fair, a timely autumn format

The 2021 edition of the Bordeaux International Fair is of course hampered by the problemscrystallizedby a year and a half of cancellations, confinement and health restrictions. According to Fabienne LE SCORNEC, the public aspires to find a semblance of normal life and wants to come out after complicated months, deprived of outings. In addition, the choice of the dates of the Fair, as well as the program,should make it possible to convince a maximum of visitors.

For the first time, the Bordeaux International Fair will take place in autumn. Unlike the traditional event in May, this edition will be completely indoor,in November. Held just after the school holidays of All Saints’ Day, the Fair thus ensures the availability of its public. In addition, on the 9 days of Fair, 6 will be on a weekend, thanks to the bridge of November 11. Perfect for preparing your Christmas shopping!

It is therefore a great novelty for this event that adapts to the seasons. For 100 years, it has been the rendezvous of the Girondins in May,at the same time as the agricultural show. The November edition should therefore remain totally exceptional and could well mark the spirits thanks to a particularly qualitative program.

A colorful program to mark the event

Visitors will of course find all the usual commercial sectors. In addition, the Fair will host many activities and a new museum exhibition. Among the activities, the sports village to try more than 45 disciplines and have fun with the family. Ping pong ball machine, diving baptism, hang gliding simulator, surfing, golf…

But it is for the exhibition that the Fair offers remarkable pieces: the treasure of Tutankhamun. For the occasion, the craftsmen of the Cairo Museum have reconstituted for 6 years more than 1000 replicas around the pharaoh, in the original and life-size materials. This will be the first exhibition of its kind in Europe.

In addition, the Bordeaux International Fair retains its festive dimension thanks to its wanderings, dancers, musicians, magicians, jugglers… Enough to satisfy the curiosity of all generations and all desires.

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FIB International Pavilion – Photo credit: Bordeaux Congress and Exhibitions

Visitors from all walks of life for a multifaceted Fair

Due to the great variety of its program, the quality and variety of its exhibitors, the Bordeaux International Fair attracts particularly diverse visitors.

There are those who have a project: buy a swimming pool, a fireplace, a kitchen… They take advantage of the fact that the offers are gathered in one and the same place to exchange with the sellers, check the reliability of the products, compare the offers… Then there are those who come with their families to have fun, have a good time, eat, go see a quality exhibition, try sports. The Fair is an excellent outing for all ages, very playful and festive with the bandas that parade. Finally, there are the opportunists who go to the Fair to have a good time, discover products, gift ideas … And who let themselves be tempted by a multitude of things.

Fabienne LE SCORNEC, director of consumer fairs

The vast majority of visitors to the Fair come from the Gironde. Specifically, 83% live there. 55% of them even come from Bordeaux metropolis. The Bordeaux International Fair therefore has a very local reputation,built over the decades. However, far from being set in stone, its content has largely evolved to adapt to demand.

A few decades ago, the Fair exhibited agricultural machinery on 40,000 m². It also had much less animation. But it has always been very festive, with a good-natured atmosphere. Every year, it retains its very popular DNA. Everyone mixes and only aims to have a good time. For many, it is a Proust madeleine.


For CEB, the Fair is the public event. People come and come back. The others discover. A curiosity accessible at a lower price that meets its public every year since the average time of visit on the show amounts to no less than 4 hours.

Organize the Bordeaux International Fair, a vast project

The Bordeaux International Fair welcomes about 180,000 people every year over ten days. As well as exhibitors on 110,000 m² of park. To organize such an event, Fabienne LE SCORNEC manages the operations and relies on several teams that give substance to the project.

A sales team that sells the stands to exhibitors; marketing and communication staff to promote the event to exhibitors, visitors and partners; an animation team that makes proposals for activities taking into account the specificities of the Fair and its family audience; and a logistics team that manages all the implementation, from the installation of carpets and stands, to the ticket office, through security and control agents, first aid…

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Entertainment and entertainment – Photo credit: Bordeaux Congress and Exhibitions

To find its economic balance, the Bordeaux International Fair relies on two sources of funding. Thus, the marketing of stands represents the major part of the turnover. Ticketing,the rest. On the charge side, the sources are on the other hand much more diverse. For example, the installation of stands, ticketing management, partitions, spotlights, electricity, water, air conditioning, security providers, or even the staff at the counter represent 60% of the costs of organizing the show. 25% of the budget is also devoted to communication to promote the event. For exhibitors upstream, then visitors. Finally, 15% of the expenses go to the animations and the ephemeral exhibition.

The CEB is bound by a profitability objective. The operation of the premises is a delegation of public services put back into play every 15 years. Not being subsidized, it must organize profitable events. Enough to push to redouble efforts and creativity to attract more and more public and organize quality events.

The challenges of the Fair, between economic imperatives and attractiveness

In 2021, in addition to the Bordeaux International Fair organized in autumn, the teams are preparing the 2022 edition, back in May. Thus, she works on both events at the same time.

Fortunately, we were able to shorten the timelines for recovery. We postponed the event several times so we did not start from a blank sheet. Nevertheless, rather than a year, we only have 7 months to organize the May 2022 Fair.


Despite these successive postponements and the 2022 Fair, the CEB was keen to keep the exceptional november format. An opportunity to take over the business for both events and exhibitors.

And faced with changing consumption patterns, especially with digital competition,the challenge remains to offer an event that makes the public want to meet physically. Being able to “see in real life”, touch, taste, smell, test and enjoy an entertaining atmosphere while shopping, in one place, this is what makes the Fair remain the Fair!


Interview with Fabienne LE SCORNEC, Director of Consumer Trade Fairs at CEB, Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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