With its Personality of the Year award, trade magazine PET worldwide has been remindingthe pet supplies business since 2006 that success in the sector doesn’t depend solely on money, support from powerful investors and modern technologies. It is also down to the ideas and ingenuity of individuals. At the International Pet Conference, which is staged every two years, recognition has therefore been given with the award to deserving and experienced players in the sector such as Ard Malenstein (IJsvogel Group), Torsten Toeller (Fressnapf) and Pavel Bouska (Vafo Group) among others. A Personality of the Year award has also been presented at the German Pet Conference since 2019, when the editorial team chose Flexi founder and proprietor Manfred Bogdahn. At the digital Pet Conference of 2021, the honour went to Dr Cornelius Patt, who recently stepped down as CEO of Zooplus AG, the leading online store operator for pet products in Europe.
This year the coveted award was given to Dr Rowena Arzt, head of exhibitions for Interzoo organiser WZF. Ralf Majer-Abele, managing editor of the two trade magazines pet and PET worldwide, explained that Arzt was chosen for her outstanding efforts relating to the successful staging of the world-leading Interzoo trade fair under difficult conditions. Majer-Abele reminded the audience of the unclear situation at the start of the year engendered by the coronavirus pandemic and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. “Would it even be possible to stage Interzoo under such circumstances? No one knew the answer to this question, but everyone wanted to hear one.” Interzoo organiser WZF opted for maximum transparency and, based on the prognoses of virologists and other scientists, it decided at an early stage that Interzoo should go ahead in any event. Controversial discussions notwithstanding, this certainly created excitement in the pet sector.
“The right decision”
“In hindsight, it was the right decision,” said Majer-Abele with regard to the WZF’s approach. Taking place as an in-person trade show this May for the first time after an absence of four years due to the coronavirus, Interzoo met with huge enthusiasm on the part of exhibitors and visitors, bringing a perceptible uplift in mood to the international pet sector. Arzt, who had already come to notice in the past thanks to her commitment to achieving greater sustainability in the sector, is the first woman to receive the industry award. “The giving of this award to Rowena Arzt should encourage companies in the pet sector to put more women in managerial roles in the future,” commented Majer-Abele.
Visibly moved by the recognition given to her, the award-winner said a few words thanking everyone who had supported the WZF in its organisation of Interzoo. Special thanks went to Messe Nürnberg and the entire ZZF and WZF team, above all its head, ZZF and WZF managing director Gordon Bonnet.
Another first at the International Pet Conference in Bologna was the award for Newcomer of the Year. This award had previously only been given at the German Pet Conference. Due to its growing popularity since it was first presented in 2019, however, the editorial team of PET worldwide decided back in 2020 to give an international award also in future. On account of the pandemic and related cancellation of the International Pet Conference that year, it remained a good intention, but this year it finally received its premiere.
The award was conceived to support start-ups and other newcomer companies from the pet sector. Interested firms were able to apply for the award back in the spring using an online application form. Of over 30 applications received from all over Europe, the editors at PET worldwide selected five nominees, who then made five-minute live pitches to attendees at the International Pet Conference.
50 per cent of the votes for the winning company came from readers of PET worldwide, who were invited to vote online for their favourite during the summer. The votes of the conference delegates, cast live and online in Bologna, accounted for the other half of the poll count. It was an exciting contest: it became clear following the poll of PET worldwide readers that three of the five nominees would be involved in a close race. Voting by delegates to the conference was also tight, and ultimately it was the highly emotive and enthusiastic presentation by overall winner Strayz that swung the result. The German company aims to improve the lives of dogs and cats living on the street with its species-specific organic pet food brand.