Following a highly successful 2022 edition of Exclusively – with footfall 28% up on last year – Bryony Andrews, editor of Housewares, took the opportunity for an exclusive – please excuse the pun – Q&A with Will Jones, chair of Exclusively and chief operating officer of show owner BHETA.
What were the key trends that stood for you at the show?
Trend forecasting agency Scarlet Opus set out three key trends (attached) in a trends area visited by more show visitors than ever before
It was brilliant that multiple exhibitors were using trend colours that had been forecasted in previous years by Scarlet Opus. In other words the industry is starting to coordinate and recognise the value of forecasting in practical terms. The outputs demonstrated that on-trend colours, textures and styles can be used to give complementary products a co-ordinated on-trend look, making buying decisions easier for retailers and buyers.
Scarlet Opus predictions were also much in evidence in the styling of stands. Colours were cleverly used as backdrop to make products stand out in an on-trend display, even for products which by their nature aren’t especially colourful. Pans being a good example.
What was the best piece of feedback you received on this year’s show?
The amount of positive feedback has been greater than ever before! The best feedback focused on the real buzz in the hall, the fact that all the key retailers came, that we had the best ever international results. It was a real example of a return to normality.
What makes the BDC and London your venue of choice?
The size, location and the atmosphere mean the hall is the perfect location for the Show. Restricting the size means the show is easy to navigate over two days, and no one exhibitor can dominate. As the trade association running the show, we want all our exhibitors, big or small, to have a good representation, and as equal a space as possible. The BDC is easy to get to with great public transport links and taxi availability; it has lots of hotels, restaurants and nightlife. London in June is also very attractive to our international visitors. The building itself has a great design ethos and an inspirational atmosphere.
Which show features do you think were particularly well-received?
It was our busiest ever show for our Trend Talks and Trend Tours, with over 250 buyers attending a formal tour or talk. The Brand Showcase was also hugely busy, with influencers and print/online/TV journalists from trade and consumer media and some really big name attendees. The two wine tasting sessions with Olly Smith were both fully booked with great feedback.
Do you think this show demonstrated that there’s no alternative to face-to-face, or is there a future in doing business online?
There is a real future in retailing online which will continue to grow but is still only about 20% of transactions. B2B is about individuals working together. We believe that face-to-face is very important in developing supplier and retailer relationships in the housewares industry.
This is for a number of reasons:
- Products have considerable design-led attributes and are tactile – meaning being able to handle products is key to building a range
- Face to face is particularly important for new buyers. The churn in industry roles over the last few years mean there are many new buyers and new account managers
- Historically, this has always been a very friendly industry with genuine warmth in the interactions between exhibitors and retailers
Looking ahead to next year’s show… what are you most looking forward to and do you anticipate any particular challenges?
We are most looking forward to:
- Repeat of this year in terms of activities, participation and popularity
- We are always looking at ways to develop and add to content alongside the features of proven popularity
- Building visitor numbers still further as confidence continues to return
- Further growth of international buyer numbers over and above this year’s record levels
- Helping exhibitors and BHETA members take advantage of the future trend information
- Seeing even more exciting product innovation.
The only challenges for the industry would be a further pandemic and movement restrictions but we aren’t anticipating that.
Any other comments?
Given the visitor numbers and the evident success of show events and features, it’s fantastic, but not surprising that we had record re-bookings for 2023 before the show had even ended. In fact over a third of the hall is already re-booked.
Overall, Exclusively was a great success and that was very gratifying. The team put a huge amount of effort behind all the initiatives, and we were superbly supported by the exhibitors and visitors. It also reinforced what the industry does best, engaging with customers, meeting face to face and networking with peers.