21 July 2024, 12:20
By <div class="field field-name-field-author field-type-text field-label-hidden"> Gavin Douglas </div> Mar 08, 2024

Reading Northpoint’s compass

Northpoint, Scotland’s dedicated furniture show, returned to its usual January timeline this year, and impressed on a number of levels – but where does the show’s future lie? The exhibition’s organiser, Gavin Douglas, considers the lessons the Scottish Furniture Representatives Association (SFRA) – and the wider industry – might learn from this year’s edition … 

As we come home from both the January Furniture Show at the NEC and the Northpoint Show in Edinburgh, it’s time to take stock of the past year and the one ahead.

The January Furniture Show, whilst a shadow of its former self, is still a must for the furniture trade to test the market  – but the Northpoint Show is certainly more of a barometer of the confidence of the retailers throughout Scotland, the North of England, and Ireland.

We launched into this year’s Northpoint Show with confidence – we had 28 Scottish agents and 54 companies exhibiting. It was pleasing to see several showing at the Scottish show who were not in Birmingham, such as Silentnight and Sealy, and some upholstery companies too. 

What became obvious was that those who came were fairly bullish and were willing to place orders. This may have been a result of new companies launching new products, promotions being available or loyalty to the Scottish representatives. 

A measure of Northpoint 24’s success should be the number of exhibitors who immediately indicated a desire to return. Some commented that the buyers were there and the order books were healthy. 

Our move back to January, although successful, still leaves us in doubt whether to make January our permanent home, or try April again, offering a breathing space between the January Furniture Show and Northpoint 25. The jury is still out.

The Scottish show allows a relaxed atmosphere for buyers and offers them the time to hold conversations with the representatives and agents about future trends and promotions. There is no doubt that the huge array of products meant that bed buyers were spoilt for choice. 

From the buyer’s perspective, it would appear that the market is quite slow just now, but everyone is looking for a bargain, which meant that many purchases were price-led. This is a pressure from the consumer, who seems to be more price-conscious about their requirements. Although British-made is still the preference, when it is an investment for the home, price can brush that preference aside.

As always, new innovations in design and function drew attention, and ranges which were flexible in their offering also gained interest. Certainly, a base model with variety of options allows retailers to display a raft of features and optional extras which in turn offers their customers a greater choice. Coupled with quicker lead times and colourways, this would appear to be the way to go. 

As we look back at the shows, there have certainly been plenty of orders and promises into the future. The retailers who are bullish will undoubtedly come out on top, offering their customers innovative and stylish new products. 

One word of warning, however. High-end still seems to perform, but with many new manufacturers trying to compete on price there could be a race to the bottom, unless quality and design are to shine through. Those offering service, speed of delivery, new fabrics and marketing support ought to be rewarded, as they protect their position in the market. Those just competing on price may find it unsustainable into the future.

© 2013 - 2024 Gearing Media Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.