Ask the people behind The Autumn Furniture Show what they hoped to achieve with their event, and they will tell you that it was all about getting exhibitors and retailers talking to each other under one roof.
This they achieved at the most recent event, which took place at Stoneleigh Park Exhibition Centre, near Kenilworth on 1st and 2nd October.
Organised and managed by Minerva Furniture Group Limited, the idea is to create an environment in which meaningful conversations can take place.
In an industry that has a number of shows though, Minerva rightly realised they needed to do more to attract the right numbers of the right people to its Autumn show. So it gave the show its own website, and specific marketing and branding, and opened up to people who were not members of the Minerva group.
But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding; did it work?
According to Roy Beagent, group business manager, it’s a resounding yes. “We have seen an increase in footfall, and buyers from other companies have been registered to attend,” says Roy.
“I’m happy with how the exhibition went, and we got a lot of very favourable feedback afterwards too. We’ve certainly made it a firm favourite on the industry calendar.
“We’ve had a number of international visitors, manufacturers from overseas, and people wanting to work with Minerva in the future.”
Roy and his team are clearly confident as they have already signed up for the next three years at the exhibition centre.
And it’s easy to see why. It’s certainly a good venue; from the welcoming car park attendants, to the welcome desk itself and the café, the venue is a winner. And you get a token for lunch too. It’s only a small thing, but it’s welcome.
Tim Morgan, a director at Hafren Furnishers Ltd, travelled from Wales for the show, together with Paul Morgan. Established in 1965, Hafren Furnishers claims to now be Wales’ largest furniture store.
Tim told Cabinet Maker: “It’s a good opportunity to see a large number of suppliers under one roof, and we can network and exchange ideas with fellow buyers.”
Over on the HTL stand, managing director Mark Flint was enjoying the show, and said that all of the stock models had been sold.
Wayne Hollis, managing director at Nottinghamshire-based Celebrity Motion Furniture Ltd, was on his company’s stand.
He said that Celebrity had undergone significant changes over the past 12 months.
This show, he added, was an opportunity to talk with retailers, and have those “good conversations”.
He said: “We’re a business that listens, so it’s good to talk with retailers and get feedback.”
And Wayne then hinted that Celebrity had a number of new products coming up, so it will be a case of watch this space.
Angela Shenton, national retail sales manager at Hypnos Beds, was deep in discussion with people visiting the Hypnos stand.
She spoke about the heritage of the brand, and the family business ethos of the company, with Peter Keen at the helm (despite his business card saying ‘Soon to be retired chairman’.
Particularly proud of the British brand, Angela also highlighted the Royal Warrant, and the fact that the company was working in partnership with the Red Tractor scheme, showing the true commitment to industry.
Oxfordshire-based Corndell Quality Furniture showcased St James, a relatively new range that allows people to “mix things up”.
The company also showed its Woodstock range. An interesting aspect of this is that the range is designed especially for smaller homes.
Maarten Van Eden, a director at the company, said: “We like this show, although it is not as busy as Birmingham there’s always a certain loyalty about it and we always do business.”
Sharif Ahmad, sales director at Wembley-based Eco Furniture, said that the show was a great way for his business to showcase its range of mirrored furniture and accessories.
When asked about why he attends, he replied: “It gives us exposure to Minerva Group members.”
As a reflection of the varied range of exhibitors, Wayne Hunt had a stand, representing OCR Recycling Equipment.
He was putting his waste balers, compactors and recycling equipment in front of manufacturers and independent retailers.
Furmanac displayed some of the products from “the UK’s largest adjustable bed manufacturer and industry leader of lift and recline chairs”.
Philip George, national sales manager, told Cabinet Maker that the show had been a particularly good one, and he was proud to show off some of the new adjustable beds and an Ottoman.
Carlton Furniture, fresh from the Long Point event in Long Eaton, was showcasing its take on furniture. Adam Green, customer experience manager, reported that it had been a busy show, a successful one.
He said: “From conversations, it’s been massively beneficial for us to be have been at the show.”
In particular, catching the eye was the new Tambour range, a contemporary twist on designs, with the coffee table and lamp table proving popular. Additionally, the new Liberty bedroom range was being showcased, and reportedly “doing very well”.
The Harrison Spinks stand was about telling the history of the brand, looking back at when it first started. But there are new chapters in its history all the time, shown by the range developed in conjunction with Adam Henson, the popular farmer and TV presenter.
Going forward is about doing new things and also making things even better than they were before.
Steve Brougham, sales director at Harrison Spinks showed off the spring technology in mattresses, which, because of the way it is manufactured, also helps reduce impact on the environment.
All in all, the Autumn Furniture Show was deemed to be a success, with people already looking forward to future events.
For a trade show to be successful, it has to have the new products and the innovations, but it also has to have the right people talking to the right people, building relationships and taking things forward.
The Autumn Furniture Show — which will be held on 6th and 7th October in 2020 — seemed to have all of this in abundance and is a firm favourite on the calendar, particularly as it is clearly more than just about Minerva Group members.