The time has again arrived to stock of the many local furniture and furnishings fixtures filling the UK trade calendar. With such a diverse range of exhibitions, large and small, it’s well worth taking the time to work out which are worth a visit …
Somewhat encouragingly, the 2018 show calendar has changed very little from the previous year, aside from the disappearance, integration and relocation of a handful of the smaller events.
As usual, Top Drawer, encompassing Home, Craft, Fashion and Gift sectors, begins the year, taking place at London’s Olympia from 14-16th. Expect a contemporary feel, and a cherry-picked selection of quality homewares brands.
Buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS) opens the doors to its Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Shirley, Solihull to its members from 19-20th, and then to the wider trade for the popular AIS Furniture Show from 21st-22nd.
The second part of the show overlaps with the UK’s biggest furniture event, the January Furniture Show, taking place at the nearby Birmingham NEC from 21st-24th. This exhibition occupies five halls, features around 450 exhibitors, and incorporates a Fabric Pavilion and Flooring Showcase – alongside The Furniture Awards and other special features.
While visitors to the NEC will be able to see an unrivalled offer under one roof, smaller regional events still prove popular – one of which, North Point, returns to Edinburgh’s Highland Hall from 28th-30th.
Europe’s largest home and gift trade fair, Spring Fair, returns to the Birmingham NEC from 4-8th, with the Volume hall opening a day earlier. The show offers everything from furniture, homewares and gifts to stationery and jewellery, plus advice for smaller independent retailers.
The London Fabric Show, organised by the BFM, takes place at Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge, London from 26-27th, bringing upholstery, bed and soft furnishings manufacturers the latest fine fabrics.
Meanwhile, AIS-organised event The Linens Show is held at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, over 27-28th, and is a members-only show on the first day.
Retailers of kitchens and bathrooms will find numerous solutions at kbb Birmingham, taking place from 4-7th at the NEC.
AIS members are invited to return to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre from 24-25th for the private AIS Bed, Sofabed and Bedroom Furniture Show.
Pulse promises inspirational, trend-defining homewares and fashion products when it returns to London’s Olympia from 13-15th.
Next up is Spring Long Point. Held in various showrooms around the Derbyshire town of Long Eaton from 14-16th, it’s an opportunity to engage with some of the UK’s finest upholstery manufacturers, and more.
The Minerva Furnishers Guild buying group’s members will be invited to explore the latest offers from preferred suppliers at its Furniture and Bed Show, held at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 22nd-23rd.
At the same time, design fair Clerkenwell Design Week will bring life to showrooms in the London district from 22-24th, through special installations, exhibitions and fringe events.
Earlier than previously, AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, for another private members’ show dedicated to furniture, the AIS Furniture Show, from 26-27th.
New Designers, a lively showcase of young designers, takes place over two phases at Islington’s Business Design Centre. Phase 1 runs from 27-30th.
Phase 2 of New Designers (which incorporates furniture) runs from 4-7th at the Business Design Centre in Islington.
Next up is Solex, the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association’s annual fair, which returns to the Birmingham NEC from 10-12th to present a strong complement of garden furniture, while Home & Gift brings interiors products, giftware and fashion products to the Harrogate Convention Centre in the North Yorkshire town from 15-18th.
July also features the UK’s second-largest furniture show, the Manchester Furniture Show, which returns to Manchester Central from 15-17th. This is the summer’s key furniture trade event, giving retailers the opportunity to source new products and range updates in a relaxed, friendly environment.
This year’s edition incorporates the Midpoint show, formerly held in Solihull each June.
Into August, and – whilst outside the UK – the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show returns to Dublin’s National Show Centre from 18th-21st (running a week earlier than usual due to a concurrent Papal visit). Also in August, on 29th, AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, for the AIS Bed Show, a private members’ show dedicated to beds.
September’s exhibition calendar is as packed as ever this year. Autumn Fair is up first, back in the Birmingham NEC between 2nd-5th, offering a smaller counterpart to Spring Fair, yet featuring a strong complement of lighting, furniture and Christmas accessories.
AIS’ The Linens Show returns for a second outing, running from 5-6th (members only on day one) at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull.
The year’s second Top Drawer event returns to London’s Olympia from 9-11th, while outdoor exhibition Glee populates the Birmingham NEC from 10-12th.
The South West Furniture Show, an enduring, agent-run regional event, is back at Sedgemoor Auction Centre, North Petherton, Somerset from 11-13th.
Halfway through the month, the focus returns to the capital, as London Design Festival runs from 15th-23rd, featuring a host of creative events that reinforce the global significance of the UK as a design hub.
Events taking place during this week include: high-end retail showcase Decorex International, back in Syon Park from 16-19th; 100% Design, at Olympia from 19th-22nd; London Design Fair, featuring Tent/Super Brands London, held at the Old Truman Brewery from 20th-23rd; and DesignJunction, also from 20th-23rd, at King’s Cross.
Simultaneously, there’s Autumn Long Point, which sees Long Eaton’s finest open their showrooms again following the spring event, from 17-19th.
There’s also the UK’s main bed industry event, the Bed Show, running from 18-19th at The International Centre, Telford. This popular exhibition features new beds, bedmaking machinery and components, and a gala dinner at the end of the first day.
Finally, there’s Minerva’s Autumn Furniture Show, relocated from the NEC to the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, which runs over 2-3rd. Unlike the buying group’s event earlier in the year, it is open to the general trade.
That’s all for now – I’ll try to keep this post updated with any additions or changes. Always check the official show websites before attending, and don’t forget to pre-register where possible, as many events are taking a stricter approach to visitor verification.
You can find a full calendar of events – national and international – here. More detailed information – including interviews with organisers, details of special features, exhibitor and visitor views and new products – can also be found in the relevant issues of Furniture News magazine.
Here’s to plenty of successful buying and selling in 2018!