International flooring show emphasises the numerous benefits that wool offers in the flooring industry, and several other focal points at the event are highlighted.

After a few challenging years due to overall economic conditions, The Flooring Show 2014 is back on the growth track. The 52nd edition of this show is considered the UK’s only national flooring event, and was successfully held in its traditional Harrogate home from 21-23 September.

This year’s success is highlighted by the fact that the exhibition was a sell-out. After a few years of marking time, largely due to overall economic conditions, the show is back on a growth track. The exhibition attracted over 150 exhibiting brands, covering some 3 500m² (net) exhibition space across four halls. There was also an impressive number of visitors, totalling 2 650 from 28 countries – a 15% increase compared to 2013. Of particular interest was the increase in retailers, contractors and distributors.

Wool appeared to be a stand-out thread, with various other features of the show highlighting unique and innovative applications of products to achieve several looks intended to influence the flooring industry, both nationally and internationally.

The prominence of wool at this show, its composition and how it is used in a sustainable manner intrigued FLOORS in Africa magazine for it is not usual that there is such a strong focus on one material. This truly excited and motivated us to thoroughly investigate any and all sources of information to bring you, our readers, everything there is to know on wool and why it has made such a statement at The Flooring Show 2014.

Flooring finds

The Campaign for Wool and the British Wool Marketing Board put on a major celebration of wool carpet, placing it centre stage at this year’s show. Attendees were met by a smart enclosure of Dalesbred and Rough Fell sheep at one of the main entrances, clearly demonstrating how wool for carpet grows.

A special Wool Pavilion was supported by some of the industry’s leading carpet brands – all surrounding a beautiful Homes & Gardens ‘Wool Inspirations’ room set. Seminars took place daily on each day of the event.

Another key area was the Trends Hub, created to inspire retailers, manufacturers and the trade press about the possibilities for product development, and ways in which to connect with consumers. This year the aim was to bring insight to the industry and into the next generation of designers, connecting them with the talent that is emerging into the workplace.

The inaugural ‘Live Design’ project, sponsored by British Ceramic Tile, was considered a great success. This is because the student attendees enjoyed the ‘industrial workspace’ created for them and they produced a number of commercially viable designs. As a result, the industry now has a strong connection with The Arts & Design School at Huddersfield University.

‘Wool – the Wonder of Ewe!’ featured the dramatic and informative area put together by Curtis Wool Direct. This design resulted in two floor fitting demonstration zones as well as a comprehensive seminar programme in the Business Enrichment Theatre featured numerous top speakers. Space was also dedicated to hosting the live Floor Covering Apprentice of the Year Skills Competition.

The wonders of wool

As noted above, the ‘Wool – the Wonder of Ewe!” was a special feature of the Flooring Show 2014, included a special wood installation created by Angela Wright, whose works have been presented around the world. “We were initially a little apprehensive that we might be treading on the toes of our customers, but our fears were unfounded,” says Angela.

“If retailers know more about wool and where it comes from, we believe that they will be more confident in passing that information back to their customers. We all look for help when making a significant investment, and that is exactly what buying a new carpet is.”

The focus on wool is further enhanced by the fact that The Prince of Wales is patron of The Campaign for Wool, encouraging everyone to learn more about wool and to go out and promote it whenever and wherever they can.

Expert input

According to trend forecasters Scarlet Opus who were part of designing and building the Trends Hub at the show, the floor types that align themselves well with interior trends tend to be the laminates, tiles and wood flooring. “The consumer has an appetite for products that have a natural look, feel, texture and colour to them,” they explain. “This includes, for example, stone, wood, marble, concrete and hard flooring products.”

Scarlet Opus adds that there is a very strong, global programme being pushed forward by the Campaign for Wool, which has been successful and welcomed by the global market.

In turn, Mark Rigby of British Ceramic Tiles states that they were the first ceramic tile exhibitor in many years to exhibit at The Flooring Show, and are delighted to have been part of it. “Meeting the forward-thinking flooring retailers who can see the potential tiles offer was of great benefit, and we will be working with them over the coming months to support and guide them into becoming ‘true specialist flooring retailers’ so that they can tap into this fast growing trend,” he firmly states.

Paul Stott, Director of The Flooring Show, in summation concludes, “We’re delighted that the hard work and financial investment by the new management team over the past three years appears to be bearing fruit, and we’re extremely grateful to the core of loyal exhibitors who have stayed with us through the past few tough years – without them the show simply couldn’t have survived.” “Exhibitor rebooking rates for next year have far exceeded expectations, and the whole Flooring Show team will do its utmost to ensure that the 2015 show is even bigger and better.”

For more information visit http://www.theflooringshow.com

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to http://theflooringshow.com; http://scarletopus.com/blog; and Paul Stott at The Flooring Show for the information contained in this article.