Decision-makers and general players in the international furniture and furnishings trade have a fixed annual date in their business diaries: ZOW, the International Supply Fair for Furniture Industry and Interior Design, in Bad Salzuflen in February. From 10 to 13 February next year, halls 19 to 22 of the East Westphalian trade fair centre will once again welcome exhibitors and visitors from around the world. The number of exhibitors who have already booked for this "must-see" event in 2014 is high.

The findings before and after ZOW 2013 are always the same: the quality of the trade visitors is excellent and almost untoppable. Customers with decision-making competence meet with their suppliers in a concentrated environment assuring both parties of an efficient and successful trade fair – a perfectly coordinated interaction between people, products and communication.

Praise all-round: quality of the visitors is untoppable

Wherever there is light, there also is shadow. At the last trade fair, it fell on the total number of exhibitors and on the absence of some segments of industry. Voiced by both visitors and exhibitors in 2013, this criticism was addressed to the industry itself rather than to the organizers. Local kitchen furniture manufacturers, for instance, were annoyed to find that it was almost impossible to conduct talks on fittings. Some of the comments by well-known major customers made it more than clear what they thought of this no-show at a trade fair in the heart of the market.

Macroeconomic conditions and developments naturally affect ZOW in exactly the same way as other such events. The consolidation associated with globalization, for instance, and the permanent process of concentration and fusion are indisputable facts. The number of companies active in the marketplace is consequently declining steadily, regardless of their growing success. Flagging economies in many parts of Southern Europe are yet another aspect, triggered by the financial crisis and lack of confidence. The furniture industry is particularly hard hit, for many interesting suppliers have their headquarters and production facilities in such countries as Spain or Italy.

Challenge: Focus on growth in exhibitors

Despite this trend, Clarion Events Deutschland feels under obligation as the trade fair's organizers. Managing director Horst Rudolph: "Whether from visitors or exhibitors, we take our customers' advice very seriously. Particularly with a view to the trade fair year 2015, we are conducting highly confidential and extremely delicate talks with the partners of the ZOW network. Since we have a firm grip on the quality, we are now focusing more strongly on increasing the numbers at our unique business event." After all, the ZOW name stands for an international success story that is not only unrivalled but has continued to enjoy exceptional acceptance throughout the trade fair's history of almost twenty years.

These efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Next year, all branches of the industry will be represented at the trade fair and many leading exhibitors, as well as hidden champions, have already booked their exhibition area for 2014. They include such companies as Hettich (fittings), Siro Camar (ornamental fittings), Ostermann (edges) and Schüco (profiles), as well as the companies Niemann and Senoplast (Austria) and the Italian manufacturer Alpi from the surface finishing segment. However annoying visitors may have found the absence of some players, this will be irrelevant in 2014 - a development that is by no means a "matter of course", but is instead a reflection of the platform's good reputation and the organizer's efforts.

Grid for exhibition area broken up - more flexibility for exhibitors

ZOW is not only a rendezvous for the furniture industry, but also an Eldorado for contract furnishers, exhibition contractors and shop fitters, interior designers and designers in general. ZOW offers these target groups the complete range of creative concepts - as well as reliable suppliers to go with them. The echo from exhibitors was excellent: "All our important customers come here, almost without interruption. Interest focuses on our new lighting concept of infinitely variable colour temperatures using LED lamps for shop fitting and contract designers," says Eckhard Halemeier, head of development at L&S Deutschland (Rödinghausen/Germany), summarizing his impressions of ZOW 2013.

Special areas devoted to RFID and lightweight construction, as well as for interested start-ups with promotion by the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) will once again play an important part in Bad Salzuflen. For the seventh time in succession, the supplier trade fair ZOW forms an integral part of the "Trade fair programme for innovative young companies at leading international fairs in Germany". German start-ups and industry newcomers are refunded up to 80% of their trade fair costs within the framework of this programme of promotion by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Even before the trade fair, young companies supplying the furniture industry and interior design, as well as logistics, can apply for promotion directly on

A first step has already been taken towards optimizing the 2014 event: instead of the rigid booth sizes prescribed in past years, the ZOW exhibitors will be able to negotiate and plan their areas highly individually in 2014. This not only means considerably greater flexibility for the companies, but will also make ZOW more colourful and more varied. What's more, the booths which exhibitors have designed and built for other locations can now be applied to ZOW conditions without undue effort. It is a classic win-win situation from which visitors will also profit.

Source: Clarion Events Deutschland GmbH


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