29 March 2010

Lines in the sand

kbb Birmingham didn't just deliver a record number of enquiries for its exhibitors between 21 - 24 March, it delivered confidence by the bucket load to the sector as a whole.

It's too early to say how many visitors the show attracted this year, that will have to wait until the attendance has been ABC verified, and anything suggested prior to that will be pure speculation.

But the final number of punters does not matter as much as the mood of confidence generated at the show - by its exhibitors, the visitors, and the show itself. The whole industry will benefit from the four days of kbb Birmingham in 2010.

"Springboard" may not be the right expression, but it was obvious that a line in the sand was drawn by kbb Birmingham 2010.

It was as if the show helped to dispel a longing for the business of yesteryear and replaced it with a realistic sense of what lay ahead, and what needs to be done to make the most of the opportunities.

Judging from comments I picked up from several exhibitors, a substantial proportion of the visitors were researching other business areas.

Bathroom companies reported a much higher level of interest from kitchen-only retailers (and vice versa), while one bedroom manufacturer said it had never experienced such a high level of interest in its products from non-bedroom retailers.

Another interesting observation was how busy some of the smaller stands at the show were. Was this a sign that an increasing number of KBB retailers want to have an obvious point of difference between their offer and that of others?

It is no secret that I got more than a tad fed up with the whispering campaign mounted against kbb Birmingham in the run up to the show. To me, and of course I could be accused of bias about this, it seemed madness to be anything other than wildly enthusiastic about the industry's only national trade show.

Was it not, I argued, in everyone's interest that works in the KBB sector to have a national exhibition that was a rip-roaring success?

And a success it undoubtedly was! More KBB business was written, and more qualified leads were taken, during the four days of kbb Birmingham 2010 than at any other time in the last two years.

kbb Birmingham 2010 showed that the 'Faceless Few' who briefed against it were full of hot air, and it is difficult to see how anybody will ever take them seriously again.

Another line in the sand perhaps?


  1. Michael Williams29 March 2010 at 10:41

    I had hoped for a great KBB, but left wanting more. It has been a few years since I last visited, and it was surprising to see so many absences from the show. Key brands I would have once expected to be there were not, and the displays suffered as a result.

    I think the show has become an opportunity for the little man to punt his wares, the show was not a complete washout for us and we have gained some new contacts, but it is far from the spectacular event that I remember.

  2. Michael, I don't know how long it is since you were at a KBBshow, but in the last two years the industry has gone through the worst recession in the last 50 years so it is little wonder that some of the 'key brands" were missing from this year's show.

    However, over 300 exhibitors were at the show and these included key brands such as: Scavolini - Italy's largest kitchen furniture company; Crown, possibly the leading supplier of kitchen furniture to UK independents; Electrolux, a world leader in appliances; Twyford, Laufen, Roca, and Pegler, market leaders in bathroom equipment; etc, etc.

    You say that you "think the show has become an opportunity for the little man to punt his wares". Is that such a bad thing? While we all like to see the big brands with their big stands - although few would have bigger or better stands this year's stands from Abode, CDA and tc bathrooms - the big stands can sometimes overshadow the smaller stands.

    It is the independent retail sector that makes up the bulk of the KBB audience and I suspect that their interest in the smaller stands shows that this sector is increasingly looking to see if smaller companies can give them the individual service they need to carve a niche for themselves in the markets of tomorrow.

    I'm glad to read that you gained some new contacts at kbb Birmingham in 2010 and the feedback I got from visitors suggest you were not alone in doing this.