Day one at The January Furniture Show at the NEC in Birmingham and Stevenage MP, Stephen McPartland, has cut the ribbon not just to declare the show open for business, but hopefully to usher in a new more optimistic and sustainable phase for the furniture industry.
The halls are steadily filling up on a bright and warm Birmingham morning and the aisles are already buzzing with retailers and buyers looking to source new suppliers and new products to refresh in-store and online presentations.
After a challenging year during which the industry's main event changed ownership, the industry has reacted positively to the amended format and the very capable and personable team behind the event. Led by Theresa Raymond, Laraine Janes and Stephen Richards - who combined have a considerable record of achievement in organising engaging and dynamic furniture trade events - The January Furniture Show looks set to continue in that vein delivering a well-defined and professional, business-oriented event that the UK furniture industry can focus on and enjoy.
A quick spin around halls 1, 2, 3 and the Pavilion, it quickly becomes apparent that many of the industry's leading lights - more than for some years now - as well ask up-and-coming firms and mass-market suppliers have committed to the event. In all, there are over 300 stands full of furniture, beds, upholstery and accessories, many with multiple brands in play, so there is no shortage of products on offer at The Furniture Show.
Talking to one of the directors of the event, Stephen Richards, he says: "I am really pleased with how the event has come together, I think the breadth of the show is healthy, the stands are inviting and the atmosphere is really positive."
He went on to say how he and the other show directors were able to deftly alter some of the location issues numerous key exhibitors had experienced in the past. Some, for instance, who should have been in hall 1, are now in the spot where visitors would expect them to be, so the revitalised show has a more contextual nature to it - it feels right form the visitors' perspective, something that often overlooked.
In summary, the new format is engaging, comfortable but the are surprises around every corner - The January Furniture Show is both reassuring, and at the same time, a refreshing place to be.