INDX Beds & Bedroom returns to Cranmore Park, Solihull this month, giving Associated Independent Stores (AIS) members (25th April) and the general trade (26th) an opportunity to discover the latest products and services in an intimate, welcoming environment. An instrumental member of the show team, AIS’ beds selector Rebecca Maloy, tells us more …
Give us your elevator pitch for INDX Beds & Bedroom …
Make sure you join us for the April edition of INDX Beds & Bedroom, organised mid-spring with buying cycles and product lead times in mind. Curated by buyers for buyers, our selection of suppliers has been specially selected to deliver a varied product mix with a range of price points, with exclusive product lines and discounts for members.
This April sees new ranges launching from a large number of established suppliers, and the addition of new suppliers to the mix. Hosted at our dedicated exhibition venue, Cranmore Park, we’re easily accessible via Junction 4 of the M42, and have free parking, complimentary refreshments and in-house catering services on site.
[AirDrops registration details upon leaving the elevator] We look forward to seeing you at the show!
What did last year’s shows achieve?
The obvious backdrop for our last show was Christmas, with the all-important winter sales just on the horizon. With this in mind, our goal was to provide a platform for retailers and suppliers alike to unite and plan for this bumper season. On this front, I’d be happy to call our last INDX Beds & Bedroom exhibition a success – the timing of the show allowed enough time for shopfloor displays to land, and feedback suggests that retailers were able to take full advantage of winter sale opportunities as a result.
Can visitors to this month’s show expect anything new?
Many of our existing exhibitors are set to introduce new ranges at our April show – including Willis & Gambier, Rauch, Sleepeezee, Harrison Spinks, Hypnos, and Millbrook. We have also invited guest suppliers Kayflex, and The Original Bed Company, and will be launching new AIS suppliers Mattsons, Staud, Lifetime Kids, and Bell & Stocchero. In short, yes!
Why did AIS settle on April and September as the right times for the show?
Our show dates have been specially selected in response to customer feedback. Specifically, April and September shows are well placed in regards to buying cycles and product lead times, allowing shop orders to be taken and delivered ahead of peak trading periods. Our June furniture show does the same for upholstery and cabinets, as these products face longer lead times.
What’s likely to be the hot industry topic on everyone’s lips this month?
Whether you have registered for INDX Beds & Bedroom, of course! Jokes aside, sustainability remains high on the agenda, and rightly so. Change is coming – not just in terms of expectation, but legislation, so it’s important that the industry is future-proofed against this. However, it would be fair to say that bed suppliers are ahead of the game in this regard, with many focusing on sustainability as a pillar of their business. It’s critical that we work together to share this knowledge and do everything we can for a more circular, sustainable future.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen since you joined AIS?
While product makeup remains an important factor, when it comes to beds there has been a large move away from a reliance on talking solely about spring count and fillings. Wellbeing, improved sleep and choosing the right bed has become more of a focus – in my view, a bed is the one piece of furniture that can fundamentally change a person’s life.
It’s great to have choice in terms of filling, feels and technologies, though it’s the retailer’s role to guide the consumer through the selection process. Some consumers will want to know every detail of the mattress, down to the gauge of the spring – though the majority just want to be sold a great night’s sleep.
Have the INDX shows been shaped with any of these changes in mind?
Here at AIS, we’ve always prided ourselves on adapting our show offering in line with the needs of the industry. We have recently introduced a dedicated retail insights section at shows, with the last edition featuring focuses on sustainability and sleep. We have plans to include these in a series of webinars to keep this front and centre throughout the year, not just at shows!
Do you feel the shows are succeeding in balancing the needs of AIS members with those of the wider trade?
Customer feedback is essential to us. For this reason, every show is followed by a survey sent to every visitor, and we use this insight to help shape the shows going forward. We always strive to reflect the wants and needs of both audiences, and are committed to a ‘test and learn’ approach – you win some, you lose some!
Having been a buyer for the likes of Furniture Village and Dreams, how easy was making the transition to selector/showrunner?
My journey from buyer to selector has been an interesting one, no doubt. The structure of the role is very similar, with the main difference being that the ‘final mile’ decision sits elsewhere. Given that I’m no longer in that front-line retail position, it’s more important than ever to build relationships with suppliers and members to ensure I’m as close to what’s going as possible.
In relation to products, it’s the same principles, in terms of delivering the right selection at the best price – I’m just not placing orders any more. As for the shows, I really enjoy the process of putting them together. It’s not too dissimilar to delivering a new store – operations, strategy, and some general hard graft!
What’s been your proudest achievement within the buying group to date?
It goes without saying, but Covid was challenging for everyone, and particularly tricky to navigate, as it was uncharted territory. I think this period really showed what buying groups are all about – pulling together as members and suppliers to provide support so that we can minimise impact on business and the wider industry. Thankfully, this period is behind us now, and the bedroom sector seems to have returned to a position of strength, despite various ongoing challenges.
It might be too early to ask, but where do the shows go from here?
Across our entire portfolio of shows, we are always looking at how we can take the next step to improve upon the previous year’s edition. Ultimately, we need to ensure we have the optimum selection of suppliers and product mix so that bedroom category buyers save the date and visit the show.
Every day is a school day, and we will continue to take on board member and visitor feedback to ensure the show remains fresh and relevant.
To register to visit INDX Beds & Bedroom, click here.