Readers of Furniture Production will doubtless either planning to visit or exhibit at the W14 exhibition in October next year. We are all familiar with its slot in the autumn calendar every other year, dominating the NEC as you’d expect of a major national trade exhibition.
Editions of the show have been around for 30 years now, constant in good and bad times but always changing to reflect movements and attitudes within the industry. As our sector in particular begins to sound optimistic again, W14 is preparing a stage to match the times.
Event director Angela McGowan is quite clear: “The show only happens every two years and so it is essential that each edition has moved on with the industry it represents. We cannot expect to run carbon copies of the last event – keeping each one fresh is vital.”
Moving with the industry
The direction of W14 is signalled by the bold evolution of the logo, a single flag now for all the product areas at W14. This reflects the increasing tendency for machinery and materials to work together, often with suppliers forming partnerships of products to bring dynamic combinations to UK markets.
The whole show is now clearly badged as the show for UK joinery and furniture manufacturers, perfect for next year’s extensive visitor marketing, billed as “the broadest ever” by organiser Huddlestone Events.
Angela is pleased in being able to help exhibitors present themselves exactly as they want. “For example, some of the materials and components suppliers at W14 want to be located in a quieter machine-free zone while others simply must be in amongst the big machinery names. It’s not for us to tell such wonderful exhibitors such as David Clouting, Blum and Rehau how to exhibit. They need to relate to their customers in the way that’s right for them.”
Materials and components design
However visitors move through the three NEC halls, Design at W14 will be easily identified. Recent W-shows have recognised that UK manufacturers need to identify design-led materials and components products which will give the edge in competitive markets. Angela underlines the important role of the show in this respect: “Manufacturers visiting our shows are often dealing with price driven competition from outside the UK. As in many industries a successful response is to inject individuality through design. Of course not everyone carries their own product design department, but the good news is that we have a large, exciting supply side offering a huge spectrum of possibilities. At W14 you can see, touch and experience the best available in the UK, and emerge having rejuvenated your products.”
Design at W14 will have a number of presentations both before and at the show. As Angela says, this will be driven by the needs of exhibitors. With Blum confirming a sizeable stand and other major brands on the floorplan the organiser feel that the exhibition as a whole has impressive design-led content. “We’ll be working with our exhibitors in the coming months to present an unrivalled platform for practical design for manufacturers in the UK,” she says.
When the organiser of Timber Expo, the construction materials exhibition and conference programme, decided to move its event alongside W14 next year, the co-location was widely welcomed in the industry. With 5000 materials specifiers added to the W14 audience of progressive manufacturers there will most certainly be a new buzz in the halls for both events.
Construction materials of all types will again be seen in Birmingham and most pundits expect an especially noticeable upturn in housing builds to be in full swing by the time of W14. Even more innovation is likely to spill onto the W14 exhibition floor as the latest in timber building and alternative materials is seen across the exhibitions.
A visit taking in both events is a compelling and mouth-watering prospect for 2014.
Face to face
As a sector our media works co-operatively to meet the needs of suppliers and manufacturers to the wide ranging furniture and joinery markets. Most professionals now use an intelligent blend of print, internet and face to face as a combined means of industry communication.
Angela concludes that W14 has an increasing but constantly changing role within this mix. “People buy from people,” she says, “and they love to do that face to face, especially where they can see, touch and learn about new products. Increasingly our visitors are commenting that the national exhibition is like getting intensive, free consultancy from the best minds and products in the industry. That is exactly the value we aim to deliver at W14.”
W14 - 5-8 October, 2014
Timber Expo - 7-8 October, 2014