The January Furniture Show (Birmingham NEC, January 22-25 2017) plays host to some of the biggest and best names in the furniture and furnishings industry – showcasing everything from cabinet furniture, upholstery and beds to soft furnishings, flooring and giftware.
Here JFS asks Royce Clarke, md at Grampian Furnishers, what’s trending in the world of furniture and furnishings, what he hopes to get out of going to the show and how he feels about trade at the moment.
How long have you been going to a show at the NEC in January?
I think this year will be my 20th in a row.
What do you hope to get out of going to a show?
I’m always looking for new ideas but, equally as important is finding new suppliers who will work with you rather than just supply you.
What’s the best thing about the January Furniture Show?
A night out in Birmingham….well if you mean on the work front it is getting to see so many existing and new suppliers under one roof over a few days. For me, no other show offers this and is the reason that the JFS is a must attend event.
What are you looking for, product wise, at the 2017 show?
Nothing in particular. Our current range is selling well so we don’t have the need to replace a lot of lines. Fresh designs/fabrics and colours are something I look for and at times these products may only end up being a talking point in store rather than top selling ranges.
What’s hot or not right now amongst consumers?
We have seen a swing back towards leather upholstery. Although fabric is still selling more than leather, the swing in the past nine months has surprised me. Check fabrics and carpets seem to be slowing down and plain fabrics and flooring are back on trend with us.
Have you ever been asked for anything obscure from a consumer?
Funnily enough, just this week a customer gave two of my staff bags of tatties as a tip which was pretty obscure!
How upbeat are you feeling about trade and the economy at the moment? Generally I am pretty upbeat and sales wise we are in a similar position to last year. Given it has been a year where a lot has happened in sport and politics, which has affected retail, I think we should be happy that we have come through that largely unscathed. We have just submitted plans for a new store so that shows we have confidence our brand will succeed in the uncertain times that lie ahead.
What advice do you have for other retailers visiting JFS and how they can make the most from it? I think I have done it every way possible and there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is nearly impossible to plan your days and make appointments as stands are that busy. My only bit of advice would be to take your time and don’t rush into making a purchase as you can easily order after the event if you need more time to decide. We are lucky in that the Northpoint show follows JFS so I tend to do a lot of follow up business the week after.
How do you typically spend your evenings while at the show?
Cup of tea and an early bed…..well that will be the plan this year as I’m a judge at the awards and need to be on my best behaviour! So the annual visit to the 80’s clubs on Broad Street will be off the agenda!
For more information and to pre-register visit www.januaryfurnitureshow.com