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Major Foreign Investment for Skopjeís SAEM Exhibition Center

January 30, 2004

( Research Service)- Just one month after the Turkish holding company Koc weighed in with a $30 million investment, in the form of a new shopping mall for Skopje’s city center, a project at least twice as costly has just been announced: the complete renovation and enlargement of Skopje’s SAEM Exhibition Center.

At a press conference in Skopje today, the SAEM management and investors provided journalists with details regarding the 65 million euro project. SAEM’s owners, a company called Era from Velenje, Slovenia, deemed it a “strategic investment” to be carried out in three phases.

Situated just outside of the city center in the municipality of Gazi Baba, SAEM is being transformed into a state-of-the-art business center, entertainment destination and exhibition hall. Refurbishment to the existing roofs of the halls have been completed, and, says SAEM president Liljana Kimova, modernization will soon begin on the biggest (Hall 1).

After this, organizers said, work will begin on an “international center for business communication.” This is to include 2 presentation rooms with 165 seats, and capacity for simultaneous translations in 4 languages, as well as a videoconferencing-equipped VIP meeting room and lobby with coffee bar/restaurant. Unusual for Macedonia, there will also be special entrances designed to accommodate the handicapped.

The project, dubbed “Nova Era” (”New Age”), is not merely a convention center, however. The 36,000 square meter complex will include a supermarket, 7-screen megaplex theater, a concert hall outfitted with 3,400 removable seats, and a large parking facility.

During her speech, Kimova stated that the total final investment remains unknown but, “…may reach 150 million euros.” There was no information given, however, as to the anticipated date of completion for the project as a whole.

The new SAEM is anticipated to employ over 800 local people. When combined with the Koc project, this should mean almost 2,000 new jobs for Macedonia- a welcome sign for economic growth in a country with chronic and high rates of unemployment. However, it is still not clear whether existing consumer demand and population levels can justify two new “hypermarkets” and modern cinemas (Koc’s center will house the other).

To be sure, there will be simultaneous and detrimental effects on unemployment, as the smaller theaters and grocery stores go under. For “big boys” such as Greek-owned supermarket chain Vero, current grocer of choice for Skopje’s upper class, the question may emerge as to whether expansion (Vero now has 4 locations in Skopje) will have occurred too quickly, in light of the unforeseen competition from outside.

SAEM directors also announced that they are following a new strategy of integrating the smaller shows together to make fewer, but larger trade shows (as the following list of upcoming fairs indicates). They also plan to put on smaller shows in regional cities like Bitola, Prilep and Gostivar.

Currently, the most well-known exhibition center in the region is probably Thessaloniki’s Helexpo. Exhibitors come from all over the Balkans and SE Europe to attend the region’s largest shows in various industries. While SAEM’s owners hope to challenge this Greek company, they conspicuously excluded it from their list of competitors on Friday: “…with this center, Skopje’s SAEM will have everything that is currently lacking in the city, country and region- to the north, east and west.”

SAEM management has faith in its June “Agro Food” show, believing that, “…with time, this show will be one of the most important fairs for food, drink, confectionary and tobacco, etc. in South-Eastern Europe.” Macedonia is a traditionally agricultural country and is represented more strongly in such fields than in heavy industry and other factory-based industries.

Macedonia: Upcoming Trade Shows for 2004

As a service to our readers, provides below a complete list of upcoming events at SAEM for the year 2004. Descriptions are taken verbatim from SAEM promotional literature.

19-21 February: Macedonian Media Market

2-6 March: House of Fashion/Skopje Fashion Bazaar

26th international trade fair of textile, knit-wear, ready-made clothing, leather, sports equipment, jewelry, cosmetics, fashion accessories, machinery and equipment for textile and leather industry

23-28 March: Mebel

30th international trade fair of furniture, household and social buildings equipment, manufacturing supplies and furniture industry machinery

6-10 April: Build and Construct

1st fair of construction building materials and construction mechanization

6-10 April: Energetics- Efficiency, Ecology, Economy

2nd international fair of energetics, efficient, ecological and economic technique, technology and equipment

20-24 April:

10th international trade fair of computers, telecommunications, office equipment and professional literature

20-25 April: International Book Fair

16th international book fair and lithographics

20-25 April: Animals Show

Exhibition of pets, hunting and fishing equipment

TBA May: Expo-Preda

Regional trade fair, of consumer goods, reproduction materials and equipment

15-23 May: Autoexpo

7th international automobile show, international exhibition motor, supporting industry and equipment

8-13 June: Agro Food

54th international fair of food, beverages, and consumer goods; 54th international fair of machines equipment, packing and domestic transport; 45th international fair of tobacco and machines; 32nd international fair of agricultural industry; 13th international exhibition of wine and strong beverages; 6th livestock exhibition

8-13 June: Altravita-Ekovita

2nd international fair of popular and traditional medicine, medical tourism, protection and improvement of environment and technical and technological achievements, organic food, paranormal power and leisure physical and spiritual sports and activities

8-13 June: 15th BTB Tourism Exchange

24-27 June: ExpoBitola

Euro-regional trade fair of consumer goods, reproduction materials and equipment

21-24 September: Medicine

25th international fair of medicine, dental and pharmaceutical equipment, instruments, disposables and drugs

19-24 October: Tehnoma

30th international trade fair of metallurgy, electronics, non-metals and construction; 5th international fair of handicrafts and small-scale industry

19-24 October: Protection-Security

4th international trade fair of individual and collective defense, security and protection

5-14 November: Autumn Bazaar

Sales of general consumer goods

24-26 November: FINEXPO

Fair of Finance Business Opportunities and Economic development

24-26 November: Fashion Week

17-29 December: New Year Bazaar

Sales of general consumer goods



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