A cursory glance at the floorplan of kbbBirmingham may have presented the story of a rather small and perhaps even dwindling trade event. The floorspace seemed to have dimished, even since its previous outing of two year's ago, with hoardings brought forward and cutting off hall corners, that clearly didn't sell. But that would only be the story on paper. In reality, this was one of the most vibrant, enthusiastic and positive kitchen and bathroom shows to be held over the past few years – even if it wasn’t the biggest!
Visitors joined with exhibitors and exuded their admiration for the event, both in the show aisles and over social media. Aisles were flooded - with independent bathroom and kitchen retailers, as is the tradition on the opening day - but the four-day show continued to flourish, right up until the close of its doors. In fact, veteran exhibitor and managing director of HiB, Warren Ginsberg claimed that the opening day of the show was the best he had ever had in all his year’s of business.
Exhibitors had worked hard to attract and keep the interest of visitors from Caple’s and Hotpoint’s on-stand cookery demonstrations, through to Pegler’s waterfall feature, and even Jetstone’s MD John Van Den Heuvel wielding blowtorches.
The show may have been small but it was beautifully formed and seemed to capture visitor attention. But it wasn’t just the stands that appealed to visitors; the well-constructed seminar programme were also well-attended. The retail-specific seminars saw plenty of ‘bums on seats’, so much so that there weren’t any left for the discussion about design with Gerd Bulthaup. It was strictly standing room only. And retail visitor Russell Buckley of Stuart Henry Kitchens on the Wirral was enthused about the KBB Cookery Demonstration Area, which was offering advice about how to hold a similar event in their own showroom.
All in all, KbbBirmingham 2012 was the boost that the industry has long needed, perhaps even craved? It was a jolt in the arm for kitchen and bathroom exhibitors and visitors and even signalled a new start for the industry. This is the new ‘now’ and this is the environment the kitchen and bathroom industry has to trade in. And maybe it was the acceptance of this that saw such positive vibes throughout the exhibition halls. It certainly seemed to spark a step-change in attitude, which could more importantly be a leap forward for the kitchen and bathroom industry.