The Big Question: favourite trade show?

This month we’re asking retailers, what is your favourite furniture trade show in the calendar and why?

Nigel Lomas, Harvest Moon Interiors

There is only one furniture show as far as I can see. The NEC January Show. We’ve been going now for 23 years, every year bar Covid. It’s the only place to see everything and get the whole feel of the industry and where trends are going. It’s had its ups and downs but every year we find something new or a different look. The roll call of old flames and makers long past is quite sad but on the plus side people will always need a sofa to sit on and a chair at the table to eat at. I’d like to see fewer old men in grey suits and more youngsters running stands.

Steve Adams, Mattress Online

The National Bed Federation Show in Telford. We can liaise with all our primary suppliers, it’s a great event for networking and the most efficient strategic buying opportunity in our calendar.

Mike Murray, Land of Beds

Two shows in particular stand out in our calendar: The Index Bed Show (organised by the Associated Independent Stores (AIS) and typically held in April and September each year in Solihull), and The Bed Show (organised by the National Bed Federation, held annually during September in Telford).  As buyers curate The Index Bed show for buyers, when attending, we can be confident that we will have the opportunity to discover the latest market trends and industry innovations within a carefully curated marketplace. Committed to meeting the diverse and ever-changing requirements of today’s retailers, with a particular focus on independent stores, this trade show allows us to browse a carefully organised, selected list of high-quality products and services. Attending allows us to spend quality time with each brand and to take advantage of exclusive previews where we can really focus on the detail of each product. As this event is very targeted with our key suppliers, we regard it very highly in our diary dates. The Bed Show is firmly established in our calendar as it allows the whole industry an opportunity to come together once a year. With so many manufacturers and suppliers housed under one roof, it is a great chance for us to see new, high-quality products being launched and to meet up with existing and potential new suppliers. Whenever possible, we like to buy from NBF members as we value the rigorous and robust vetting procedures that are in place. These checks provide us with reassurance and confidence prior to making any purchases. Plus, The Beds Show Gala dinner and awards evening is always a magnificent event to attend and is a great networking opportunity. Attending high quality trade shows enables us to build on relationships with existing and potential suppliers plus they provide a fantastic networking opportunity within the industry. Not attending would mean missing opportunities to develop and further grow our business. 

George Sinclair, Nimbus Beds

My favourite would have to be the January Furniture Show at NEC Birmingham. This was the first big show I went to as a teenager when I started selling beds & was inspired by the HUGE trade stands that would costs thousands to create. It has a diverse range of exhibitors and there is plenty to see too. Some of the usual bed shows can get quite boring after seeing beds all day!

Darren Barker, Mattressman

It would have to be the NBF show in September, to see all the latest new launches of mattresses and to see all the latest technology in the industry.

Vic Smith, Vic Smith Beds

I know as a bed retailer, the show I am meant to say as my first choice is the Bed Show in Telford, organised and run by the National Bed Federation, and whilst I feel this show is a must, and unless you have a really good excuse, shouldn’t be missed, they are very samey. I do find the January Furniture Show can be a little bit more uplifting and seeing what other people in the furniture industry views are and new products for the bed industry. The bed manufacturers showing at the January Furniture Show tend to have a few more eco options and a lot more progressive ideas.

Matt Scott, Sopha

I’d say my favourite trade show is the one where shops that surround us aren’t attending; it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of showing the same products in the same fabrics as all of the other stores around us thus reducing the worth of our store if customers are shopping around for inspiration. I love nothing more than finding a product or look that our customer’s haven’t seen before and we’re much more likely to find that inspiration from the smaller, quirkier shows. Back when it first started The Bed Show was a catalyst for innovation within the sector however the show has lost it’s newness and can often feel like many of the other larger trade shows where exhibitor’s expectations from previous years and stand fees that need to be repaid often decrease the appetite for the risk from the exhibitors. It’s the smaller shows with lower stand fees and low expectations that usually deliver products which catch our eye. A typical year for us will see us visiting both Minerva Shows, the South West Show, Bed Show, Manchester Show, Cranmore Park and Long Point. All of this is on top of visiting some manufacturers ‘at home’ shows where you can often poke around and find interesting fabric swatches or other points of difference that can enhance our customer’s experience to our store and make their visit worthwhile. If we can be inspired when we visit so many furniture shows it puts us in a much better place to inspire our own customers. Then, it comes down to the people, friendly faces who have time to spend with their products and us retailers will always make a show more inviting.

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