Cabinet Maker looks ahead to the upcoming AIS Furniture Show.
Without wishing the year away before its time, it is difficult in the Cabinet Maker office not to get excited about the plethora of events and opportunities to look forward to in the new year when exhibition season starts once again and we will be able to see the latest developments and innovations from the industry. One such event - The AIS Furniture Show - has been an eagerly anticipated show by its members for a number of years, but the last five years have seen the wider industry also begin to appreciate the benefits, since the final two days of the show became opened out to the rest of the trade.
Organised by AIS, a leading independent buying group for home and fashion in the UK and Ireland, next year’s show is set to once again take its place at Cranmore Park, where it will host a two-day members-only event before opening to the general trade for the final two days - Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd January. Yes, the dates do coincide with the start of The January Furniture Show at the NEC, but far from setting out to compete, the AIS Furniture Show is instead designed to offer visitors a something of a useful detour, affording a further reason for buyers to visit Birmingham in January.
AIS merchandise director – home, Peter Mallinson explained: “We’re not marketing it as an alternative show to the NEC, it is simply meant to help our preferred suppliers maximise the number of retailers they see, so it makes sense to hold it at the same time. Being so close to the NEC also makes it very easy for buyers to visit both.
“We consistently receive feedback from all the visitors saying that the choice of furniture on show is particularly appealing to quality independent furniture retailers, and that the intimate and relaxed atmosphere creates a friendly buying environment that is more conducive to making buying and ranging decisions.”
This is a philosophy which is clearly paying dividends, with pre-registration numbers looking promising and the entire exhibition space sold and allocated to exhibitors for next year. In addition, a number of new exhibitors will be attending the show for the first time.
“We invite our suppliers to exhibit if we believe they have something special to offer to our membership, “ explained Peter. “So how we view a show and how many suppliers attend is totally different to conventional show organisers. Our January exhibition will offer a streamlined and focused exhibitor lineup, which in turn affords exhibitors more space to create more interesting stories. We have a good variety of manufacturers exhibiting including a range of well-known brands as well as some exciting AIS exclusives. What buyers will find when they visit Cranmore Park is a good mix of contemporary, transitional and traditional product ranges.
So, how do the international numbers fit into the mix? “There is an argument that says there are too many shows and I do sympathise with many retailers who attend all of them,” said Peter. “We are faced with the same challenge as most people as the show coincides with large European shows such as Cologne and Maison & Objet. The European suppliers who exhibit tend to have a limited offer targeted purely for the UK independent furniture market.”
“Our primary objective is to put together collections for our membership and by the selections we undertake, make life easier and more time efficient for them. We’re very proud with what we’ve created with our AIS exclusive ranges, both Branded and also under the Stag and Ducal names, and there are a number of new initiatives in this area. We’d advise any buyers interested in gaining access to this exclusive member-only product to consider joining AIS. This show provides a great opportunity to explore some of the value of being an AIS member. Such exclusives take over about 20% of the exhibition space so there is also much more for non-members to see.”
Peter believes that retailers, as well as manufacturers, will favour the size of the show. “We will be presenting a range of well-known brands including Himolla, Venjakob and Habufa as well some exciting AIS exclusives from leading brands such as Alstons, Parker Knoll, Duresta and G Plan. These will be accompanied by other established brands such as Chateau Dax, HTL and Primavera. The AIS show is also hosting a number of suppliers who will only be exhibiting at Cranmore Park this year.”
Despite the show’s success, there’s no laurel resting for organisers, with a number of new initiatives to keep the 2017 event fresh and current, as Peter revealed: “We are excited to launch a new ‘5 Key Looks’ concept during the January event. We all know the importance of those finishing touches and how they can bring a store display alive whilst also providing some great add-on sales for retailers.
“The lighting, accessories, pictures, mirrors, rugs, bed linen and overall presentation are key in order to enhance the furniture offering. Working with our key accessories and lighting suppliers, the ‘5 Key Looks’ area will involve presenting current on-trend interior designs: Industrial, Hotel Boutique, Scandi, Country and Classics, by providing a full dressing package for our members to replicate in store.”
Held at Cranmore Park, the group’s own exhibition centre, the show offers free on-site parking, complimentary refreshments and excellent catering facilities. With a less hectic environment than one might expect from a show, buyers can find time and space to discuss ranges and plan their buying strategy. But that’s not the only benefit of the venue, as Peter told us: “We’ve increased the size of our exhibition space over the past couple of years by over 500 sq m, meaning the show now covers 3500 sq m. In addition, the location of Cranmore Park is perfect for ease of access to the NEC, making it convenient to attend both this and the January Furniture show.”
Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull B90 4LF
The AIS members’ only show admittance is 20th and 21st January 2017.
The AIS general trade show – The Furniture Show – is open on:
Sunday 22nd January: 9.00am – 17.00pm
Monday 23rd January: 8.30am – 17.00pm
Admission to the show is FREE but reserved for independent retailers only. Onsite parking, exhibition guides, lunch and refreshments are all also complimentary to all independent buyers and exhibitors.
Cranmore Park can be found just off the M42 within a few minutes of Birmingham International rail and air links and the NEC.
Register online via the AIS Furniture Show website: www.thefurniture-show.co.uk
Tel: 0121 683 1428
Diamond Suite - Exclusives Room
Premier - Cranmore Suite
Premier - Reception
Unique - Cranmore Suite
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