Decosit Brussels Keeps Quality

Diverse Attendees Drive Interest

Susan Andrews, Carole Sloan, September 18, 2006

Despite differences between the organizers and exhibitors at Decosit Brussels, American exhibitors were generally pleased with the results.

All those interviewed concurred that attendance was down, but for each company, the positives involving other issues outweighed the numbers game that typically ends a show's run.

Among the other factors impacting the pros and cons of the show were the general ambience, the quality of the exhibitors and presentation, the ability to interact with agents, meeting with suppliers — the newest factor in this global sourcing environment — as well as orders written.

For Mike Shelton, president of Valdese, “It was very good business for those we have established business with and long-term relationships. And it is a good place to see many other people including agents at one time.” But, he noted, with his company's distribution strategy, there were few new potential customers.

“For the first time, this was not a big writing show,” said Rocco Simone, senior vp, Sunbury. But there was potential for strong future program. “It's the first time many were not making decisions at the fair.”

Attendance was a variable also. Simone noted that Saturday (opening day) was very busy, Sunday fairly busy, and Monday extremely busy. Attendance from Australia was strong, “but there was no one here from the Emirates.”

Analyzing Decosit Brussels, Larry Liebenow, president and ceo of Quaker remarked, “The overall quality of the exhibition and exhibitors is very good, and the organizers are very efficient.”

“What we all want to understand is what piece of the attendance is good for what exhibitors — for example, what countries are represented. The organizers need to understand the challenges of what works and is not working.” Overall, Liebenow noted, “We did very well with the customers that were here, and exports are increasingly important to our business. But we did miss the customers that did not come, and who have come before.”

At Wearbest Sil-Tex, Tom Notaro, vp, observed, “Even though the traffic appeared to be a little off, the programs we worked on were extremely strong.”

As for attendance, Notaro remarked, “The Middle East was missing, but Australia was here in force. Decosit is an important show for us; we need to be here.”

“Hall traffic definitely was down, but overall we were pleasantly surprised in terms of orders, traffic in our space and the quality of the traffic,” said Stewart Jervis, vp, P/Kaufmann.

Noting the difference in the makeup of visitors, Robert Lachow, vp, J.B. Martin explained, “We saw more Russians and Asians.”

At the same time, he acknowledged that some of the interest had to do with the growing attention to velvet as a fashion fabric for home furnishings. “We had good traffic; it's a particular point because of the market interest in velvet. And there are some customers who bought from other firms that came to us because of other issues. We had good repeat business from existing customers.”

On the other hand, Patrick Geysels, managing director of Decosit Brussels, stated that the show attendance was up “slightly more than 5%. It had been down each of the last three years.” In addition to counting total visitors, “We count how many companies are represented in the figures” — and that total will not be available for a few weeks.

“We know the market is not booming and we know we're in a saturated market in Europe. But Europe still exists with weavers, even though they're struggling. They have to be more creative, have better colors, have technical creativity and better service to succeed.”

And he concedes, “In five years we'll lose production capacity in Europe.”

As for the contract segment of Decosit Brussels, Geysels noted, “We're happy with the move to Hall 9. The exhibitors want to keep their identity and have asked for some changes — concentrate on window and wall coverings and attract interior designers.”

For Andy Green, managing director of TIP, “On the whole the exhibitors were extremely happy with the buyers they saw. Foot-fall is dropping away but … we definitely had enough of the professional buyers.”

Commenting on the distribution of free tickets to visitors at TIP, despite a pre-show purchase price of 20 Euros, Green remarked, “A lot of our companies are from emerging countries and are inexperienced in marketing. All exhibitors were given vouchers to distribute to visitors.” The lack of distribution, he said, created the program to distribute tickets here.

To improve challenges like visitor distribution and others, TIP has formed steering committees by country to control the quality of exhibitors, the process of approval for showing, and to ensure that the quality of merchandise and presentation is at the right level, he said.

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