Lawrence writes a review review of this year’s kbb show in Birmingham.
Well, what great entertainment the kbbreview awards ceremony gave us all this year. Host Al Murray had us in stitches for most of the night and for those of us fortunate enough to go home with 20th anniversary trophy, it was a great reason to celebrate.
In addition to the glamour of the evening, there were other, more fundamental reasons to be upbeat. The upturn in the KBB market has been evident since the latter stages of 2013 and investment in manufacture and design is definitely on the increase. For us, there were clear signs of this throughout the kbb exhibition.
Visiting the NEC on Tuesday morning, we found the halls to be bustling with life, although some stands certainly attracted more interest that others. Development products such as EQ Software generated a lot of attention, while aesthetically there was an increased of accent lighting, especially in furniture units. From bathroom modules to kitchen cabinets, it was prevalent and really engaged passers-by. Impro had a particularly interesting example in one of their displays, a trend to watch out for over the coming months.
Kitchen products and stands were abundant, from amazing new Faber cooker hoods to Britannia’s range of cookers, there was plenty to see. The bathroom are, however, felt a little lacking in inspiration.
Our highlight of the bathroom section was the Stonearth stand, showcasing their magnificent Travertine freestanding bath, as well as the new GODI furniture range with its beautiful engraving details. A wealth of brassware could be found throughout the exhibition and there was a small, interesting selection of unusual furniture from Roca, but the big brand were a little conspicuous by their absence.
“Big names such as Miele, Neff, Hansgrohe and Mira, who all sponsor the awards, had no display areas and it felt like the overall atmosphere could really have gained from their presence.”
Thinking back a few years, big names such as Grohe, Hansgrohe, Matki and Geberit all brought stands to kbb Live, and the event benefited from their input – smaller companies finding themselves alongside the leaders of the pack, and naturally inspired to develop. So if there’s a way of enticing them back to the UK’s largest industry exhibition, it would be great to see them investing some of their marketing budget on kbb displays once more.
Aside from the main manufacturers such as Ideal Standard and Abode, there were two companies that stood out for us with new, innovative ideas that instilled some excitement into the arena.
Packsize is a German company with a machine that manufactures made-to-measure boxes in five to nine seconds. Its On Demand packaging saves on space and costs, and the machine itself is free of charge, so the user has only to purchase the boxing material. It’s a fantastic bit of equipment and a very interesting business strategy that has certainly worked for Packsize, with a 40 to 50% annual increase in business since it began.
The second company that stood out for as was an altogether smaller operation. Belfast-based Arroll’s stand had a simple but effective layout, showcasing its strengths – namely baths and ornate radiators. It also included a metallic red bath / couch, designed and customised by its own engineer and brought along to provide seating for the display, with a cut-out section and a large, comfortable cushion inserted into the base. A wonderful concept that has taken on a life of its own outside of the company’s existing market, it was great to see creative thinking taken forward in such an interesting way.
Whatever your viewpoint on this year’s exhibition, whether it inspired you with new ideas or left you feeling reassured about the manufacturers you are already in partnership with, on the whole we found it certainly worth a visit from the retailer’s perspective.
We’re already looking forward to what the next show has to offer – see you there.