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IFEMA celebrates its 40th anniversary

Today was the start of the fortieth anniversary year with the celebration of “Four Decades of the IFEMA Story”, with the participation of the key people who have played a major role in the institution’s governance and trajectory over the past years. This was an entertaining coming together at which anecdotes, stories and achievements from IFEMA’s past and present were shared, as well as taking a look at what the future holds for a constantly growing sector.

15 Jan 2020

IFEMA today celebrated “Four Decades of the IFEMA Story with the participation of the key people who have played a major role in the institution’s governance and trajectory. During the morning, attendees at the Feria de Madrid’s South Auditorium heard the story of the forty years of IFEMA, Spain’s first trade fair operator and one of the most important in the world, as well as getting to see what the future holds for a constantly growing sector.

The journalist and official chronicler of the city of Madrid, Constantino Mediavilla, led the event, which was attended by the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, former city mayors José Maria Álvarez del Manzano, Juan Barranco, Alberto Ruíz-Gallardón and Ana Botella, the president of the IFEMA Executive Committee, Clemente González Soler, the president of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services, Ángel Asensio, the president of the Montemadrid Foundation, Jesús Nuñez, the deputy-mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís, the vice-president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Ignacio Aguado and the journalists and official chroniclers of the city, Pedro Montoliú Camps and Mayte Alcaraz. In addition, the finance journalist Carlos Rodríguez Braun and the president of Easy Fairs, Eric Everard, discussed the future of trade fairs, with the president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, closing the event.

IFEMA, 40 years of history

Despite its status as the political, economic and geographical centre of Spain, Madrid lacked a trade fair venue until 1980. A decree enacted in May 1943 established the rules for holding trade fairs and exhibitions in Spain, mapping out a scene that excluded the city from such activities, focusing instead on Valencia, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Bilbao. The political and economic changes which Spain underwent post-1975 allowed the exclusive nature of this structure to change. IFEMA was founded in 1978, the year in which the conversations between the Chamber of Commerce and the City Council began, which were subsequently joined by the then Provincial Council – now the Autonomous Community of Madrid – and the Caja de Madrid bank. On 1 December that year, a document of intent was signed, and was worked upon throughout the following year. On 6 February 1979, the mayor of Madrid and the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Provincial Council and Caja de Madrid signed the protocol creating the Institución Ferial de Madrid (IFEMA), with the Ministry of Commerce approving the articles of association on 27 February 1980. The process was completed with their ratification by the IFEMA Board of Directors on 22 May that year.

IFEMA is still governed by these four founding institutions. The percentage holdings in the consortium correspond to the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Madrid City Council and the Madrid Chamber of Commerce and Industry, each with 31%, and the Fundación Montemadrid, the heir to Caja de Madrid’s welfare arm, which holds the remaining 7%.

The first newly-created fair organised by IFEMA was SICUR in 1980. During its first year, 15 fairs were held at the Feria de Madrid exhibition centre, attracting one million visitors and 2,200 exhibitors, who occupied a total of 93,000 square metres of exhibition space. Over 100 fairs and 700 congresses, conventions and professional events are now held every year, attracting more than 35,000 companies and over four million visitors.

Over these forty years, 100 million visitors and 760,000 exhibiting companies have participated in the 2,100 fairs held at IFEMA, in addition to more than 10,000 congresses, conventions and corporate and leisure events, which gives an idea of the activity generated by this organisation and its positive impact on both the commercial development of the financial sectors and on its geographical environment, resulting in revenues of more than €50 billion at current value.