As the Minerva Furnishers Guild finished preparations for its latest autumn exhibition, Cabinet Maker got in touch with group business manager, Roy Beagent, for the lowdown on what we can expect from the show.

Since the start of September we here at Cabinet Maker have been ignoring the looming onset of autumn. Never mind supermarkets suddenly sprouting Halloween costumes and the introduction of Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, as long as the weather was balmy we were happy to cling onto summer for as long as possible. Now that October is upon us, however, and thermometers have undoubtedly began to drop we can no longer deny the changing of the season. Indeed, having said a proper farewell to the warmth we’re raring to get stuck into all things autumnal. For us that includes foraging in the hedgerows for berries, dreaming of our first mulled cider and, of course, preparing for our annual visit to Minerva’s autumn exhibition.

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Minerva has been staging an autumn exhibition for a number of years now. Can we expect any changes to the format in 2016?

I think what people will find is a very similar format to our last autumn show but, if anything, we’ve got an even better portfolio of suppliers attending this year. You’ve only got to look at this list to see it’s quite impressive. And what’s even better is that they’ve all been very supportive of the show, so they must be reasonably happy with the way we’re doing things. 

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Past shows have seen attendance from a number of well-known suppliers. How have retention rates been this time around?

Retention has been fantastic, and this year will see over 80 exhibitors at the show. Most of our main suppliers will be in attendance, and we’re also very happy with the amount of bed manufacturers that have signed up to exhibit, some of which will be showcasing exclusive ranges for Minerva members, which is encouraging, and something we as a group are pursuing quite strongly.

The exhibition is always trying to attract new suppliers to exhibit. How has take up from outside companies been for this year’s show?

I’m pleased to say that this year we’ll be welcoming a number of new exhibitors, a very good mix of well-known UK brands and newcomers, as well as a good range of European suppliers.

Unlike Minerva’s spring exhibition, the autumn show is open to the trade. How has visitor registration been ahead of opening day?

We’re very pleased to see that, according to registrations, we have a lot more people planning to attend, as well as quite a few registered from retailers outside of Minerva’s current membership. Every year it’s growing, which is obviously quite pleasing for us as it indicates that the format is working and we’re getting the support we need.

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The number of trade shows in the UK continues to grow. What are you hoping the autumn exhibition will be able to offer visitors and exhibitors that other shows can’t?

We’re hoping it will be an interesting show for visitors, and as always it’s a very well-timed event, being in October, to really take advantage of the opportunity to deliver in time for the sales period. In addition, the fact that there is nowhere else in the UK that you can see this array of manufacturers at this time of year is a definite advantage.

Every exhibitor will be looking for a good footfall, and of course it’s not as easy because of, for example, shops having fewer members of staff than maybe they once had, so it takes more effort to find the time to visit exhibitions, but we try and make everyone as welcome as possible and offer a good environment for doing business. All we can do is make the show as attractive as we possibly can with some decent propositions. The show is a one stop shop, and there really is something for everyone.

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Following the EU referendum, there was a lot of discussion about confidence within the industry. How do you think people are feeling as we enter the last quarter of 2016?

People obviously had a lot of fears following the Brexit vote, but I think confidence has stabilised now. Unfortunately prices have had to go up, although some of our suppliers have said they will hold them where they are until after the exhibition, which is great. So it’s a chance to buy at the previous prices.

Minerva’s spring show benefited from a change in venue earlier this year. Has that has any impact on how you’re planning to go ahead with the autumn exhibition?

Our spring show is quite a different offering to our autumn show as it is only open to Minerva members, whereas in October we open it up to the whole trade. We felt the spring show went very well this year, and this was backed up by a number of reports we had from exhibitors and visitors once the show had closed. And it could be that, on the back of that, people saw how successful the spring show was for their business and have decided to give it another go in the autumn when we’ll have an even larger footfall. As far as the future of the show goes, we’re always keeping our options open! 

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With only four days until doors to the show open, how is the team at Minerva preparing for the event?

The whole Minerva team will be up at Telford making sure everything runs smoothly. We’ve been pleased with the amount of hotel bookings we’ve seen this year as it indicates that people are not only coming to the show but hopefully attending both days.

It’s been a mainly positive run up to this year’s show as though, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we’re quietly confident that people are in for an excellent exhibition and, that being the case, we’d like to continue with that format in the future.

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If you’d like to see for yourself what the Autumn Furniture Show has to offer then be sure to register on the exhibition’s website, where you will also find contact details for a number of convenient hotels. The show will open from 9am-5pm on Tuesday 11 October and from 9am-4.30pm on Wednesday 12 October at Telford’s International Centre.