Making a splash: the Furniture Component Expo proved a great success

The Furniture Component Expo made its debut, offering furniture manufacturers the opportunity to connect with the components sector at the BFM organised event.

More than 50 exhibitors took part, while visitors also had the option of a series of seminars including exports, flammability regulations, sustainability, and apprenticeships, training and future-proofing within the industry.

Polyurethane foam manufacturer Carpenter was a headline sponsor of the show, with all aspects of its business represented.

‘We came in with fairly low expectations because it’s the first show of its type, but it’s been absolutely brilliant and we’ve been really surprised. It’s been great for us because we have new products to develop and promote this year, and as a component show it is the perfect vehicle to do that. The stand has been a lot busier than we thought it would be and there have been plenty of people about,’ says Richard Harris, Carpenter UK sales director.

‘Bringing component suppliers and the manufacturers under one roof is really important. We are known as a block foam manufacturer, but a huge part of our business is actually producing components for the furniture and bedding markets. We don’t always get to promote those component products, so a show like this, purely about components, is great for us.’

Vita Group, another headline sponsor, viewed the event as an opportunity to showcase its flexible PU foams as well as speciality products such as Europe’s first fully circular foam, Orbis.

‘I’ve been in the industry for 30 years going to events and usually people are not interested in speaking to a supplier. But now we have a show for ourselves where they come to see us. It’s just so long overdue. It’s so welcomed by everybody, both the customers and by us. We have engaged with quite a few of our existing customers, but we have also made some new plans and some new contacts we didn’t know about,’ says Andy Corbett, Vita Group business director of comfort conversion.

‘We have a new focus on sustainability and circularity; it’s something we have been looking at as a company and we wanted to showcase that here. It’s been important for us to be able to do that.’

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‘It’s been a really useful experience. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the attendance. The BFM has done a good job of promoting it. We have never been to an exhibition before, and it’s been a good experience. I’m very pleased with the way it’s gone. When we heard about it, we were adamant we had to support it. It gives the opportunity for innovative companies to promote and show their efforts in moving their product range forward, which will hopefully move the industry forward,’ says Richard Prudhoe, Fibreline md.

‘This event is very important. It’s a good initiative because we haven’t had anything like it. It is fantastic, it really is. It was definitely needed to get everybody under one roof like this. For us, we have been able to speak to people we haven’t seen or even known about before, because the industry is just so big. We have been really busy and we will definitely be coming back next year,’ says Karin Jennings, Handy sales director.

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For Leggett & Platt participation was ‘a great success’. All exhibiting divisions, including Leggett & Platt Springs UK, Leggett & Platt Home Furniture, Kayfoam and partner Clockwork Components entertained a high volume of new and existing customers as it showcased its advanced capabilities and product offerings.

‘With this opportunity to display our innovative furniture and bedding technologies, we were able to gain a substantial number of introductions and leads – especially for the upholstery trade. This expo was an excellent opportunity to highlight our expertise in delivering advanced comfort technology and support to customers across the UK furniture industry. Our “global, yet local” approach and “borrowed proven technologies” mindset allow us to deliver world-class professionalism and diverse, industry-leading spring component and specialty furniture foam solutions. With expertise in high-quality seating systems, recliner mechanisms and other motion hardware, all exhibiting Leggett & Platt divisions were able to provide an up-close view of how we’re energising not only the bedding market but the wider furniture market as well,’ says Paul Hindle, Leggett & Platt Springs UK sales manager.

‘As the show came to a close, all parties were excited about the possibilities and benefits of a Leggett & Platt partnership. We look forward to attending this FCE in years to come as it was well organised and in a great, centrally located area.’

‘It has been buzzing. We’ve seen a lot of people we know and we have made some new contacts as well. An event like this, specifically for components, has been long overdue,’ says Mike Crowshaw, Peak Convertors md.

‘The focused nature of this show is really quite interesting. It’s about people coming through the door, people who know about foam, who are interested in foam, so you have some very positive conversations with people. It’s good for the industry to have something that is targeted like this,’ says John Davies, Peak Convertors sales director.

Next year’s show will be held from 19-20 March, again at Telford International Centre.

‘A lot of people have said to us this is what the industry needed. The question was, could somebody deliver it and could somebody deliver it well? The feedback we have had is that we have achieved that. I have lost count of the number of exhibitors who have stopped me and said they want to come back next year, or can we make sure we get our space again next year? Could we take a bigger space next year,’ says Phil Spademan, BFM md.

‘The exhibitors have done us proud: there are some fantastic stands out there and people have invested in a difficult market. They have done a lot of work to entice people to buy their products and the visitors are genuine buyers who are looking to buy. The show looks really professional, the exhibitors have done such a good job, the hall is good, the facilities are good, and it’s so easy to get to.

‘The vision is for people to start to recognise British furniture. It’s what we need. Currently we’re using a push strategy, but if you turn that into a pull strategy and get consumers looking for British furniture when they go in-store, that’s a great place to be. It’s going to take a very long time to get there, but there’s nothing wrong with having that as a long-term ambition to move towards.

‘We are a trade association, so we are not trying to make a profit. What we are doing is what we think is the right thing for the industry. This is the only show of its type, and the industry said it wanted it. We have created this for the industry, so it’s for the industry by the industry. A few people have said to me that it feels as though the show has been here for ages. It’s a great foundation for us to grow from. This is phase one and the BFM board have committed to do this for up to five years. We are here for the long term, and we are going to drive it forward.’

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