Spring Fair International opened its doors from 2nd-6th February at the NEC, Birmingham to present the UK’s largest display of home and gift product offering to the trade. Described as the most important retail trade event in the country, this year’s edition did not disappoint, with the show hosting over 300,000 launches and attracting over 66,500 buyers from around the world. Victoria Noakes paid the show a visit.

The impressive commitment to new product development by Spring Fair exhibitors was plain to see at this year’s event, with a plethora of design-led home interiors and furnishings as well as outdoor living items, contemporary gifts and British-made product taking the fore at the show. 3000 exhibitors presented the best they had to offer across 13 different home and gift market sectors.

Expert trend presentations from WGSN and Tom Mirabile, contributing editor for Pantone View and SVP, Global Trend & Design for Lifetime Brands, provided Spring Fair visitors with an overview of key emerging trends, as well as insights into what drives consumer spending habits and earns consumer loyalty.

A new development for organiser i2i Events Group that positively impacted Spring Fair is a strengthened partnership agreement with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), designed to inspire and support UK-based SMEs in their efforts to succeed in overseas markets. UKTI helped Spring Fair achieve a 2% increase in overseas visitors attending the show compared with the 2013 event.

The partnership boosted international representation at Spring Fair, helping to provide British suppliers with an entry point to international markets and featuring prominent Best of British showcases and Exporter trails throughout the exhibition. Five UKTI Villages were located around the NEC with a total of 50 hand-chosen exhibitors, all entrepreneurial British companies with a particular strength in export business that were new to the show.

Comments from exhibitors were highly positive, with home interiors and decor business Minster Stylish Living citing substantial visitor interest across all of its product categories including furniture collections, occasional chairs, lighting, soft furnishings and accessories, plus pictures, mirrors and decorative objects including high quality giftware lines.

MD Ian Guise remarked: “Many of our customers commented that ‘Minster is back’ with a fantastic range of stylish home decor items and giftware lines at competitive prices. We took substantial orders as well as many interesting new enquiries and detected a more buoyant outlook from the retail trade.”

Meanwhile, Steve Webb, sales director of Straits Trading Company – a major supplier of the home and gift industry with a mixed product offering of furnishings, glassware, furniture, outdoor living and more – said: “I’m delighted, we’ve had a really good show. It’s gone back to how it was three or four years ago – it’s been a long time since it’s been this busy. In terms of the types of retailers we’ve had on, there have been a number of blue chips, all our major accounts have visited and export has been really promising – especially from Middle Eastern customers.”

i2i Events group MD Louise Young commented: “There was an incredibly positive and upbeat vibe at the show this year, reflecting both the fantastic quality of product being launched and a welcome return to buoyancy in the retail trade. We saw a strong upswing of Home Interiors & Furniture companies choosing Spring Fair as their UK showcase, and it’s great to see that market sector performing so well after a few challenging years.”

The next edition of Spring Fair International will take place from 1st-5th February 2015 at the NEC.