MK Illumination maintained its status as the world market leader in festive decorative lighting in 2019 and expanded its operations considerably over the year. The Tirolean company, headquartered in Innsbruck, increased its turnover by around 4% from 2018 to EUR 135 million, with the majority of the growth coming from prestige projects in North and Central America, and the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai.
The company’s Light Park events opened across the globe and attracted tens of thousands of visitors, with two brand new attractions opening in Garmisch, Germany, and Rondouko, Tochigi, Japan in 2019. In line with the strong company growth, production capacities were expanded and around one hundred new employees were hired worldwide.
“It’s been an exciting year, full of growth both externally and internally, which is the best way to grow,” says Klaus Mark, founder and CEO of MK Illumination. “From shopping centers to cities, open spaces to zoos, hotels and attractions to private residences, our reach has expanded significantly. To support that, we’ve strengthened our processes, increased our team, and extended our production facilities, and we’re looking forward doing even more in 2020.”
Christmas light from Manhattan to Shanghai
North America – USA, Canada, and Mexico – was a particular bright spot for MK Illumination in 2019. Thanks to the acquisition of a number of high-profile projects, sales in this highly competitive market rose from EUR 16 million to EUR 20 million.
In Manhattan, the epicenter of Christmas staging, existing projects were joined by the illumination of Empire Outlets and Hudson Yards, resulting in new highlights in the Big Apple. MK Illumination was once again entrusted with the production of the renowned Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show, which was broadcast live worldwide and this year featured a “Frozen 2” theme thanks to a partnership with Disney.
The Canadian team also caused a stir with impressive new installations, including the creation of grizzly bear “Davie” that stole the show in English Bay at the Lumière Light Festival in Vancouver, initiated by local businesses and the city to attract residents to the West End district over the winter months.
In the east of Canada, new festive lighting concepts in Old Montreal, Quebec, and installations in the well-known Brookfield Place Shopping Centre in Toronto became highlights for shoppers and residents alike.
MK Illumination’s efforts in recent years to open up the Mexican market are also bearing fruit, resulting in features like the spectacular golden tree that adorns the luxurious Antara fashion mall in Mexico City, and the brilliant white lighting displays at the Artz Pedegral Mall, which opened in 2018.
On another continent, this time in China, MK Illumination’s lighting continues to create a festive atmosphere in spaces as diverse as shopping streets and centers, including Shanghai’s Bund and Nanjing Roads, the luxurious Jing’an Kerry Centre, the Ruihong Lifestyle Plaza and the Hongqiao Tiendi Center, which is located in the hip and newly developed close to the international airport.
Light makes spaces more attractive for residents whilst stimulating trade and tourism
European sales remained consistently high in 2019, with highlights appearing in cities like Stockholm, Budapest, Munich, Manchester and Bucharest, which is well on its way to becoming a top Christmas destination thanks in part to its astounding festive lighting from MK Illumination that features nine million LED’s and more than 7100 light motifs that transformed over 39 km of the city into a sea of lights.
“It’s clear that festive lighting makes a difference in attracting visitors,” said Mark. “It’s incredibly helpful in stimulating winter tourism: we’ve seen traditional ‘summer’ destinations like Salerno in Italy, St. Wolfgang on Lake Wolfgang in Austria, and Koper in Slovenia dramatically increase visitors and overnight stays, in part because of the festive lighting.”
Light also brings retail spaces to life
Retailers are increasingly using festive lighting to create atmosphere and experiences in order to hold their own against online retailers, MK Illumination’s spectrum of tailor-made shopping center showcase projects in Europe includes luminaries like Westfield in London, the Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm, the Hessen Center in Frankfurt, the Royal Albert Docks in Liverpool, the Armazéns do Chiado Center in Lisbon, the Rødovre Centrum in Denmark, Väla Centrum in Helsingborg, the G3 Shopping Resort in Gerasdorf.
Just outside Leipzig, the Nova Eventis Shopping Center focuses on destination marketing, and magical, mythical highlights like a Pegasus and an animated unicorn provide an extra impetus for people to visit, shops and stay. Different but equally impressive is the 31-meter-high, walk-in Christmas tree in the Serravalle Designer Outlet in Italy.
Light Parks deliver real-life, screen-free experiences
In recent years, MK Illumination has been helping cities transform unusual and open spaces into winter attractions with their Light Park events. This is in direct response to people’s increasing searches for experiences that deliver happiness, and the popularity of these Light Parks proves that the company’s timing was perfect.
After its great success in 2018, the Haldenzauber Light Park in Hückelhoven opened in 2019 for a second time and is reportedly on track to exceed last years’ record attendance of more than 45,000 visitors. Inspired by Haldenzauber, the brand new GaPa Funkelland Light Park opened its doors in 2019 to much fanfare, thanks to the collaboration of MK Illumination and GaPa Tourismus GmbH. And in Japan, Wakayama City’s Festa Luce is a popular attraction for the third year, and thanks to demand, a second Festa Luce opened in 2019, this time in Rindouko, Tochigi.
Temporary Light Parks in zoos and other outdoor attractions have also proven popular, with Denmark’s Copenhagen Zoo lit up for the season, and Johannesburg’s Joburg Zoo celebrating Christmas with its Festival of Lights, complete with animal-themed light sculptures.
“Our Light Parks offer people a real-life experience and represent a conscious counterpoint to the digital world. There’s more to life than screens,” says Mark about the positive reception of the Light Parks.
Increase in employee numbers, and new production facility in Turkey
In line with the company’s strong growth, the number of employees and production capacity increased once again in 2019. January 2020 will see the completion of a new production area of 5000 m2 opening in Turkey, as well as the completion of additional expansions in the production facility in Romania.
In addition, around one hundred employees were hired worldwide, mainly in the area of production, which brings the number of people in the global MK Illumination team to 1100 employees in 41 locations.