Gürzenich Catering: Successor appointed I 60 years of Blatzheim – a success story KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH ensures smooth transition

As of 1st April 2017, KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH will be taking over the catering services at the Gürzenich and will offer culinary delights in a historic setting.

On 18th May 2016 agreement was reached by the Supervisory Board of KölnKongress GmbH and subsequently also by the Supervisory Board of Koelnmesse, on the foundation of KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH.  The Council of the City of Cologne also gave its approval at its meeting on 28th June 2016. Shareholders in the company are KölnKongress GmbH (51%) and Koelnmesse GmbH (49%). The management of the company will be taken over by Bernhard Conin, this was decided unanimously by the shareholders' meeting of KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH on 11.08.2016 for a period of five years. For this reason, the contract of Bernhard Conin as CEO of KölnKongress CEO was also extended ahead of schedule by the Supervisory Board for a further five years to August 2021. "Through the acquisition of the catering in the Gürzenich, KölnKongress has gained a further foothold in the events business. Continuity, individuality and a high degree of professionalism will in future be offered to the organizers and guests of the Gürzenich as well as to the people of Cologne", according to Bernd Petelkau, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of KölnKongress. "With the joint catering company, KölnKongress and Koelnmesse are embarking on an exciting new field of activity. The long-standing partnership has shown that the two companies complement each other and as a result, are laying the 'foundation stone' for new directions", according to Gerald Böse, CEO of Koelnmesse. The company, newly founded on 1st September 2016, will take over the catering business of Gürzenich Köln from Jochen Blatzheim on 1st April 2017 and also interpret the Gürzenich motto "Tradition meets Modern" with respect to catering: The catering concept is based on regional and seasonal products - creativity, sustainability and trends create a symbiosis of tried and trusted high quality. A wide range of wines and other drinks complete the offer. In future, you will find more information on www.koelnkongress-gastronomie.de.

As a result of the transfer of operations in accordance with § 613a BGB (German Civil Code), the experienced staff will be retained by the Gürzenich, all employees will be taken over and ensure the usual high kitchen and service standards in future. Through the acquisition of the large and small equipment inventories, KölnKongress Catering is also taking over part of the 60 years of "catering tradition" of the Blatzheim family.

"The many years of experience in the event business convinced us to take over the catering operations in the Gürzenich and through the strategic partnership with Koelnmesse, we have a strong partner by our side in order to handle the new area of business. Numerous synergies between event marketing and the catering business will have a positive effect for our clients and guests in the Gürzenich", said Bernhard Conin, CEO of KölnKongress and KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH - who describes himself as a "host for hosts".

Following 60 years of successful management of the Gürzenich Köln, Jochen Blatzheim (Gürzenich Gastronomie- und Party-Service GmbH) will terminate its activities in the Gürzenich as of 31st March 2017.

Ever since 1st April 1957, the catering service in the Gürzenich was part of the Blatzheim Group, at that time managed by Hans Herbert "Daddy" Blatzheim. Following the reopening of the Bastei in 1958, it also became part of the Blatzheim Group. In 1968 – following the death of his father - Jochen Blatzheim took over catering for the guests of the Gürzenich and the Bastei. Continuity does not mean standing still, and thus, in 1972 Jochen Blatzheim extended his field of activity to the Party Service and from 1978 to 2005 managed the catering in the Messeturm and the Rheinhallen of Koelnmesse.

In addition to the creative cuisine and the attentive service, quality and tradition have been maintained since time immemorial and integrated into everyday business. The glorious past thus found its continuation in the present day: the traditional Carnival's Prince Proclamation, which in 1959 took place for the first time in Gürzenich, already celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2014. Jochen Blatzheim conducted his first Carnival events in the Gürzenich in 1968 and will thus in 2017, in his "farewell year", be catering for Cologne's Carnival for the 50th time. However, not only Carnival, but also the Cologne Summit Days in 1999 were real highlights and put the Gürzenich in the limelight for an international public.

"I am really delighted that we have found such a good solution for the Gürzenich. As a result of the transfer of operations it is guaranteed that all my employees will be retained and can remain loyal to their workplace. The smooth transition gives me confidence that in future guests will continue to receive a perfect service in the Gürzenich, the tradition will be maintained, but of course through new influences, a 'fresh wind' will be felt in the Gürzenich", says Jochen Blatzheim.

"Our thanks", both Koelnmesse CEO Gerald Böse and KölnKongress CEO Bernhard Conin, are agreed, "today already go to Jochen Blatzheim for more than 60 years of Blatzheim Catering and the many years of friendly cooperation".

The Gürzenich is 'Cologne's front parlour' and, as a historic event centre, contributes to the creation of a positive image for the exhibition and congress location of Cologne. Since its reopening following extensive renovation in 1997, under the management of KölnKongress over 4,500 events with more than 3.2 million visitors have been held. Then as today, the Carnival sessions and balls rank among the most popular events. Around 70,000 visitors each year are present at around 50 Carnival sessions in the Gürzenich. In total over 200 events with around 140,000 visitors take place annually. These include congresses, annual general meetings, concerts, markets and balls.

To this day, therefore, the listed historic Gürzenich has lost none of its long-standing tradition as a festival location for and of the people of Cologne. In its 569-year history, it was and continues to be the "Front parlour of Cologne" and simultaneously is one of the most representative event centres in Europe.

Since the establishment of KölnKongress, the company has been growing steadily and besides the Gürzenich also operates the Congress-Centrum Koelnmesse, the Tanzbrunnen, the Flora and a further four event and special-event venues in Cologne. The team supporting Bernhard Conin in the meantime numbers more than 40. The company's turnover has risen in recent years to 12.5 million Euros.

KölnKongress is known nationally and internationally for its professional event management. On average, KölnKongress conducts around 2,000 events with a total of approximately one million visitors.