Timber Expo - a jolly good show29 September 2011 by Mike Jeffree
With 40% of stand space for the next show in 2012 already reserved, the first Timber Expo seems to have scored a hit
Thought a day at the inaugural TimberExpo, the UK timber sector’s first dedicated exhibition for years, would be a good way back into work mode after an extended enforced absence. And so it proved. A real shot in the arm for the industry, brimming with positivity and optimism. Ok there were some ‘rooms for improvement’ comments, but these were usually qualified with a, ‘well, hey, this was the first show’
The exhibition probably wasn't going to hit its 5,000-visitor target. But it clocked up 2000, or thereabouts on the first day. That was generally considered pretty good going.
Attendance at TRADA’s In Touch with Timber, held in conjunction with the show at Coventry City FC’s Ricoh Arena, was also down on expectations. But TRADA’s Rupert Scott said they were already focusing on how to tackle that for the next time in 2012. And it was balanced by strong turnouts for the various seminars held in the small theatres in the exhibition space itself.
Overall the response of the trade was that this was the event it needs. The exclusive timber focus was seen as a major plus. Bar the usual exhibition groupie students, who were there primarily to hoover up the pick ’n’ mix on Progressive Solution’s stand, it meant all the visitors were genuinely interested in timber and there to do business or make solid enquiries. They weren’t just “sniffing around before passing on to some other building product”, said one exhibitor.
Visitors also seemed to be pretty much the right mix. “We saw customers, architects, specifiers, contractors, distributors, suppliers and competitors,” said another of the 120-plus exhibitors. “It ticked all our boxes.”
Holding the Wood Awards presentations at Timber Expo, well timed over lunch on the first day of the show, was also a bright idea. They attracted their biggest audience for a while, which was appropriate given that the Awards also had a record number of entries from the timber, construction and furniture sectors.
The show was professionally and slickly organised too. The shuttle bus whipped me instantly from Coventry station to the Arena, and I had one all to myself on my return (don’t think it was anything personal). The venue itself was well laid out and the facilities good – although a weary colleague did bemoan a bit of a shortage of areas just to slump after a few hours tramping the corridors.
A particularly smart move, exhibitors agreed, was having a Timber Expo sales hub at the heart of the show where they could at least pencil in space for the next one in 2012. Did the trick too. According to ever upbeat event director Loretta Sales, by close of play, they’d got reservations on 40% of stand space already, and the show next year will have 50% more floor area.
But the most encouraging remark for the show must be from Belgian international hardwood and softwood trader Vandecasteele. They had a good event, saw lots of existing and potential new customers, and said it reminded them of the early days of France’s premier timber show, the biennial Carrefour International du Bois in Nantes. Last time out in 2010 the latter had 500 exhibitors and attracted 10,000 visitors.
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