OK, so it’s not quite show time just yet, but to whet your appetite, Cabinet Maker offers a preview of what to expect when the January Furniture Show arrives at the NEC in just a few weeks.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Fairytale of New York has found its way back onto the radio airwaves, and numerous Elves on Shelves have been jumping from surface to surface, to the delight of many a child. The delight in the Cabinet Maker offices, however has been pointed firmly in one direction in the past couple of weeks – the NEC in Birmingham.
That’s right, at the time of going to press, some 500 exhibitors are putting together the finishing touches for their stands in preparation for the January Furniture Show in a few weeks’ time. This number represents the majority of the biggest names in the UK, as well as a healthy number of international brands, offering a comprehensive representation of today’s furniture and furnishings industry.
Clarion are 100% behind our vision and direction of travel with the show
Cabinet Maker will bring you all the latest developments from the show and its exhibitors in the weeks preceding the show, but for now we have put together some helpful information for those planning to make their way to Birmingham, with the help of director, Stephen Richards, who provided us with the lowdown.
Open all hours
After a successful introduction in 2016, the show will once again run over four days, allowing maximum time for visitors to see everything exhibitors have to offer. The event will begin on Sunday 22 January, when it will be open from 9.30am, and it runs until Wednesday 25 January. The doors will be open from 9am until 6pm for remaining days, barring a slightly earlier finish of 4pm on the last day.
Location, location, location
With its location in the middle of the UK’s motorway network, some 75% of the UK is able to reach the NEC within a three-hour drive. The postcode for sat nav users is B40 1NT, but the NEC is actually clearly signposted from all motorways and major routes, so just look for signs to the January Furniture Show.
Unlike a lot of venues, the NEC has catered for parking, with more than 16,500 spaces available and a helpful traffic team on-hand to offer guidance. A free shuttle bus is also available to transfer visitors from the car park to the venue entrance.
For visitors choosing to arrive by rail, the venue is located less than 10 minutes by foot from Birmingham International Railway Station. Direct services run all day, but for those travelling from further away may need to catch a connecting train at Birmingham New Street.
International visitors can rest assured that Birmingham Airport is practically on the NEC’s doorstep and there is a free, fast air-rail link to Birmingham International Railway Station located on the upper level of Terminal 1.
What to expect
So, now you know where and when it is, and how to get there, what can you expect from this year’s show? And how will it compare to previous years? Director, Stephen Richards, gave us his view: “We are confident that the positive momentum created over the past two years will continue into the 2017 show,” he said. “Our philosophy is fairly simple. There are no complicated messages or features to distract buyers from their core purpose in visiting the show. The clearly defined halls are proving particularly successful.”
It would certainly seem that way amongst exhibitors, as the show has a 90% retention rate, meaning, as Stephen said “there are not many well-known names missing.” In fact, there are around 50 new exhibitors this year, with the likes of Ekornes, Lifestyle Europe and Maze Rattan joining the names on show.
Of course, one development this year is the acquisition of January Furniture Shows Ltd - the organisation behind the exhibition – by Clarion Events. The move has brought together the founders’ (Laraine Janes and Theresa Raymond) market knowledge with the resources and expertise at Clarion’s disposal. So how will this affect this year’s event? Will there be any immediate changes brought into effect? “None at all,” answered Stephen. “Clarion are 100% behind our vision and direction of travel with the show and are very happy that we have continually consulted with the industry to create a show which works for them.
“What Clarion brings is extra resource, additional potential visitors through their extensive databases –with national and international reach. Their experience with managing and developing shows like Home and Gift Harrogate for instance, demonstrates they are keenly aware of ‘show identity,’ what makes them tick.”
As ever, the organisers have put a great deal of effort into promoting the event to help ensure high footfall. “We have absolutely wallpapered the print media,” explained Stephen, “and have been running several overlapping email campaigns, both to our own contacts and through media partners. We have also continued to use traditional direct mail. Press coverage of the event has been fabulous again. As far as exhibitors go, there will always be those that choose other ways to get to market, so all we can do is make sure every potential exhibitor is aware of what a great opportunity January at the NEC represents.”
It’s fair to say that this is paying off, as pre-registration is up on last year despite visitors showing a little more reluctance to pre-register than they used to. “To avoid being bombarded by exhibitors before the show, perhaps,” pondered Stephen. “We are confident that everyone and anyone who is serious about furniture will be there in January whether they pre-register or not. We don’t charge on the door so there is no penalty for not registering and the process on site is very simple.”
But of course, the proof is in the pudding. The January Furniture Show strives to ensure a successful show every year, with high visitor numbers and satisfied exhibitors, and they measure this to make any improvements that may be required year on year, as Stephen concluded: “The obvious first measure of success is the visitors – do they come in numbers which represent the great majority of the ‘buying universe’ and are they satisfied with the ease of access, the levels of service, and the relevance of the exhibitors? If all those boxes are ticked, then we should get happy exhibitors which gives us the second measure – re-booking levels beyond the industry standard which is about 75%, whereas January Furniture Show re-booking levels are 85%+.”
The Cabinet Maker team looks forward to bringing you more details in our upcoming preview and show issues, but we’re fairly confident that visitors and exhibitors alike will be of good cheer at this year’s show.
Cabinet Maker is proud to support our industry show, and we will once again have a stand this year. If you would like to come along and speak to a member of the editorial team about your latest news and developments, or find out how we can help you promote your business to the right people, come and visit us in Hall 2, Stand A10.