19 July 2024, 07:29
By Furniture News Jan 26, 2024

JFS reports visitor growth and record-breaking rebook

The 2024 edition of the January Furniture Show (JFS) closed with a reported +6% rise in visitor numbers and a record-breaking rebook rate for the 2025 edition, says organiser Clarion Events.

With over 25% of the buyers in attendance visiting for more than one day, and multiple networking opportunities, this week's JFS brought together brands, buyers, designers, architects, manufacturers and distributors looking for the latest product.

The UK’s biggest furniture and home interiors trade show hosted four days of sourcing from top national and international brands, plus a significant number of new exhibitors. 

Peter Harrison, executive chairman at Furniture Village, explained that attending JFS was important his team, which aimed "to meet people, as there are some terrific suppliers here and to find new products, see trends for colour pallets, finishes - anything that will help us to stay with it".

DFS quality manager Kim Sprott said there were "great networking opportunities throughout the show. I’ve seen lots of new brands that we haven't seen before, and JFS is the perfect place to see the new trends for the year", while Dunelm's Natasha North said that JFS "ticked all our boxes, and we saw all the brands that we needed to see - mission accomplished".

Exhibitor Nichola Bell, sales director of Alpha Designs, says: "JFS has been our best-ever show, with high sales from very enthusiastic buyers, and we've seen a good mix of new and existing customers." 

Siobhan Walsh, strategic planning director at Scatter Box, adds: "JFS has been a good show, as we’ve met new, quality customers" – evident in the event's  increased VIP attendance, says Clarion: "With 83% conversion on VIP visitors, exhibitors had access to some of the top buyers from across the industry, with buying power up £1m (+18%) since 2023."

Over the show’s four days, JFS saw buyers attend from Argos, Arthur Llewellyn Jenkins, B&M Retail, Bensons for Beds, British Garden Centres, Daniels Stores, Debenhams, DFS, Dunelm, Fabb Furniture, Fairway Furniture, Fenwick, Furniture Village, Furniture World, FW Homestores, Glasswells, Habitat, Harbour Lifestyle, Homebase, Hopewells, Jarrolds, John Lewis, Keens Belfast, La Redoute, Laura James, Leekes, Lenleys Home, Marks & Spencers, Morleys, Next, Nisbet, Oliver Bonas, Sainsbury’s, SCS, Sofa.com, Sofology, Sterling Furniture, Stokers, Swoon, Taskers, The Cotswold Company, The Very Group, Vale Furnishers, Ulsters Stores, Wayfair and more.

Across all retailer groups there was a significant growth in attendance in particular, says Clarion: department store attendance up +18%; distributor attendance up +25%; wholesaler attendance up +16%; interior designer attendance up +8%; and contract buyer attendance up +40%.

JFS also proved to be a more international affair this year, with visitors attending from 53 countries including Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey. 

This year’s edition was enhanced with the introduction of the Champagne Bar in Hall 1 and the Festival Food Court in Hall 2, while VIPs enjoyed exclusive access to the VIP Lounge.

The Crafting the Future Networking Hub hosted a variety of talks throughout the show, along with live craft demonstrations, in partnership with The Furniture Makers’ Company and the AMUSF. 

Meanwhile, networking was a key theme at this year’s show. Sunday night kicked off with the Show Party and celebration of The Furniture Awards winners (in collaboration with Furniture News). The winners were:

Best of British – Alpha Designs Upholstery (winner) and Lebus Upholstery (highly commended)

Global Player – Qualita (winner) and Tomasella (highly commended)

Design Innovation – Whitemeadow Furniture (winner) and A.L.F. UNO (highly commended)

Superior Service – Iconography (winner)

The networking continued at Monday evening’s Women in Furniture Network: Speed Networking event, which saw an expert panel take to the stage comprising: Donna Bellingham, CEO of Shackletons; Laura Newbold-Breen, COO of ACID; Farkhanda Hussain- Butt, director at Shire Beds; and Ingrid Lohse, CSO of Forte, led by Clarion Retail's portfolio director, Zoe Bonser.

Victoria Ross, national sales manager at Forte Furniture, says: "I would certainly recommend any of my contacts in the furniture industry, whether you are new or have been around a while, to have a look at joining this network where I had the opportunity to meet, not only lovely, but insightful, interesting women who, without this event I would probably never encountered. Who knows what that random connection might turn into?"

Rounding off the show was Tuesday’s Happy Hour, where the winners of the Best Stand awards were announced. Stands were judged on their design aesthetic, innovation, use of materials and the 'wow' factor. The winners were:

Hall 1 – At the Helm (winner) and Himolla and Whitemeadow (runners up)

Hall 2 – Febland (winner) and Premier Housewares (runner up)

Hall 4 – Forte (winner) and LPD (runner up)

Hall 5 – Buoyant Upholstery (winner) and Lebus Upholstery (runner up)

Buoyant Upholstery’s development director, Glen Ainsworth, says: "We really enjoyed exhibiting at the JFS, it was great to see all our customers, and the feedback to our new ranges was amazing. The icing on the cake for us was winning Best Stand in Hall 5. Well done once again to the entire Buoyant team."

JFS will return to the NEC from 19th-22nd January 2025. In the meantime, the Manchester Furniture Show will take place on 10-11th July.

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