The city of Cologne attracts millions of visitors every year. Over 6000 large and various small retail businesses generate more than 10 billion (thousand million) German marks per year.

Good business has been made in Cologne for a long time. Due to its favourable position in terms of traffic and transport at the crossroads of the great historic trading routes, the Romans turned Cologne into one of their most important trading footholds in their northern provinces.
In the Middle Ages Cologne merchants traded in Sicily, England, Scandinavia, Flanders and Bohemia. Goods supplied by Cologne were classed worldwide as high-quality products. The imperial seal for the staple rights guaranteed the people of Cologne a right of pre-emption for all products being shipped on the Rhine. The early development of trade fair events and naturally Cologne’s role as a leading Hanseatic town brought prosperity and a wide variety of trading to the city.

Today the trademark of classic trade functions in Cologne is the Cologne Trade Fair Koelnmesse). This is the undisputed number one world-wide for 25 industrial branches.

However trade – represented in Cologne by two of the largest German group of companies (Rewe, Kaufhof) and over 40 professional associations – is not the only distinguishing feature of the landscape of the town. In recent years many modern service providers have become established here. For example, leading companies of the rubbish disposal industry have their head offices in Cologne.

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