The numbers were down but the calibre of visitors to Woodmex at the NEC, Birmingham was well up according to the organisers.

Companies exhibiting reported the level of serious enquiries surpassing expectations. Order books were filled and some clinched sales on the stand.

A combination of floods and cancelled trains accounted for the drop in the number of visitors. Preliminary attendance figures were around 15,000, some 3,000 down on 1998.

But exhibitors say that the majority of those who did attend were key decision makers.

Dutch wide belt sanding specialist Boere reports making two important sales from its stand – an Elite 1300TKS to coffin manufacturer Bradman Joinery of Somerset and an EliteTKKC sander to Middlesex-based Stonebridge Joinery.

Boere managing director Peter Boere said the show had resulted in a greater number of enquiries than ever before.

The Homag Group also reported its most successful show ever and closed several sales. Kelvin Wilkins, Homag UK’s new managing director, said that, apart from the high number of orders taken at the show, the serious enquiries from companies at all levels surpassed expectations.

‘Customers wanted to talk to us about providing solutions and establishing long-term supply and service relationships,’ he said.

It was a similar story for SMS Machinery. Centre stage was the new 3-phase UVP vertical panel saw. Other machines which generated a lot of interest were the Onsrud inverted pin router, the Ritter system for profiled cabinet doors and an entry-level Wart-Hog CNC machining centre.

Russell Corlett, managing director of Masterwood UK also reported ‘far more firm inquiries’ than at previous Woodmex shows. ‘We sold a Winner 3.2 CNC, machine centre and new Tecnoma edgebander and took orders further Winners, another 3.2 and a 2.45.’

Tom Ballus, of extraction equipment specialist DISA, said the company was not ‘inundated with leads. But the ones we got were extremely promising. Woodmex delivered’.

Exhibitors at the Association of Suppliers to the Furniture Industry’s ASFI 2000 also reported a ‘great show’ and a record number of re-booking enquiries.

A full Woodmex report follows in a forthcoming edition.