Interiors UK closed its doors in January following four days of good business as more than 21,000 retailers bade farewell to the last UBM-organised January furniture show, resolving to move the event to London in May this year, to join onto its extant May Design Series events at ExCel London.
Across the UK furniture industry, 2014 will be remembered as the year UBM chose to relocate its event to London’s ExCel, beginning this year in May. And this fact, rightly or wrongly, has cast a long shadow what was a vibrant, upbeat and optimistic event.
Interiors UK this year proved to be a bigger draw with its latest edition with representatives from across key multiple, independent and contract retailers with Lee Longlands, Fishpools, Taskers, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Dreams, C P Hart, Zaha Hadid Architects, to name a few, all in attendance.
There were over 500 brands exhibiting, an expansion on 2013, there was choice from commerical, mid-range and top-end retail product both from the UK, the EU and beyond to new designers making an impression in hall 1 and 2 alongside a host of premium brands. UBM says Visitor numbers were up 15% year-on-year.
Retailers who visited sister publication Furniture News’ stand in hall 4 reported a tangible improvement in market conditions felt since September and October and may of them had quite a spring in their step. Visitors looking for contract products for hospitality applications also found much to admire at the event, albeit spread around the various halls rather than in one location.
Visitors to the show were also keen to share their opinion on the news that Interiors UK will become The Furniture Show at May Design Series: Jonathan R Jones, a freelance writer, comments: “For me, shows like this offer a great opportunity see the work of up-and-coming designers. This year I was particularly excited to visit New Design Britain and DesignersBlock, and well as the Fabric Pavilion. I’ll definitely be heading to The Furniture Show at May Design Series; the London venue is easy to reach and the show looks set to earn a place in the design calendar for those seeking new talent.”
Victoria Westredge, retailer at Wayfair, says: “Shows like this are a great opportunity to meet suppliers that I don’t see on a daily basis. The news of the move to London will make the show easier for me to attend as my head office is based in the capital and I am excited to see the various networking opportunities on offer, which are vital to do business.”
Exhibitors too reported a successful show with plenty of interest from quality retailers. managing director of Ercol, Nick Garratt, comments; “We’ve had some great orders on our new collections and lots of interest in the brand so it has been a really busy show for us. We have been pleased with footfall too and are excited by the prospect of an international visitor draw which the new London show is set to fix.”
The seminars also proved popular with more than 15 hours of insight from over 20 industry experts covering everything from business, sales and marketing, to the latest trends, designs and innovative technologies in a series of thought-provoking talks and panel discussions.
It has to be noted as well that there were many who felt that the move would not be beneficial to them.
Richard Glint runs an independent retail business in Grimbsy, he says: “I’m not going down to London, it’s too far and too expensive.” He was not alone in this view with others saying that it would be too expensive for them.
Others were more phlegmatic suggesting that it is ‘entirely sensible’ for the UBM to put its event with its other London events and that it was ‘plausible’ that it might attract a different, more cosmopolitan and more international crowd to that which attended the Birmingham event.
Suzie Ager, brand director of Interiors UK, concludes; “This year’s event has been an outstanding success and I am hugely proud of the team that helped to deliver such a fantastic finale. It has reaffirmed that there are some incredibly innovative interior designers and retailers operating across the country who know the importance of discovering new brands at events such as ours that will keep them ahead of their competitors.
“We were incredibly pleased with the support we received on site for our relocation to London. With this we are excited to be able to build upon both the heritage of the interiors show and its popularity, uniting an enviable portfolio of exhibitors and visitors, to present an even better proposition with The Furniture Show at May Designs Series.”
May Design Series will run from the 18-20th May at London ExCel.