In my final review of the 2016 FIT Show, I want to focus on the exhibition itself. The very thing that makes it possible for the hundreds of companies and thousands of visitors to display and view the many innovations and new products being launched right now in our industry.

The numbers

You all know I love my stats, and Matthew Glover tweeted once the show was over the final visitor numbers.

The show smashed the 8k visitors barrier. This means that most of those who registered to visit did indeed visit. Anyone that was there on the Tuesday and Wednesday will have noticed than footfall was very high, much higher than previous shows. Yes Thursday was quieter, but that was to be expected given that the Gala Dinner was held the night before and most industry visitors had already been on the previous two day. Saying that, Thursday felt busier than previous FIT Show Thursdays.

With the exhibition being held at the NEC in Birmingham next year, the pressure will be on to beat these numbers. The natural target would appear to be 10k visitors over the three days. However, with only a year in which to dream up something new, exhibitors will be under pressure to get the industry through the door.

The organisation

This latest FIT Show has to be one of the most well organised industry events, especially considering the large jump in footfall compared to previous years.

Throughout the three days I saw nothing which made me think mistakes or errors were being made. Of course I could only be in one place at one time, but I kept my ears keen and throughout the three days all I heard was praise for the show and the general order of the exhibition.

There were no gripes about parking, as in previous years, and the Wi-Fi for me at least was rock solid. I was able to tweet at all times!

The food was better and more varied this time round. The pulled pork wraps upstairs were particularly nice, and the food stands outside meant that despite the large numbers, there was never an opportunity not to grab something to eat or drink.

In the end, we have to remember that this was the third FIT Show to be held at Telford, and the first two were pretty good already. So for me there wasn’t much to tweak, nothing drastic had to be done. Just a few nudges here and there, that’s all that was needed, and that’s all that it got. The formula works, and it worked well this time.

The stands

Lets get one thing straight from the off, the Truemans Windows stand was bloody amazing!

For those unaware, although you shouldn’t be, theirs was a perfect recreation of Central Perk coffee shop from the sitcom Friends.

They did not win stand of the show. But that in itself meant that this particular stand was the most talked about the whole exhibition. No product samples. No corner sections. No masses of literature. Just a nice relaxing place for visitors to rest their feet, grab a coffee and drift off for a few minutes. A totally different angle compared to every other stand, and it really worked. Kudos to the Truemans team for going with this idea.

The quality of the stands throughout the show though were very high. You didn’t need to have a mega one in order to stand out. The Inotherm stand springs to mind with their stunning entrance doors. And there was of course of the eye catching examples of the big plug fro Polyframe, the double-decker stands from Origin and Rehau, and the English Country themed stand and bar from Residence 9.

The MACO and Liniar stands were both great examples of hard work and determination to create something that brought visitors to them. Expansive, open and nothing claustrophobic. I loved Quickslide’s football themed stand. I took part, and got a score not worth mentioning on here!

I must say that the Edgetech stand provided some great laughs as I got to meet Alan Fielder and Roland Sarin on Wednesday, along with other great members of the Edgetech family. Both great characters and left the halls in very good spirits.

Yes there were some very well documented teething problems with a few stands just before the doors opened. But lets face it, the world isn’t perfect and even the best laid plans can go south one time or another. On the day though, it all worked out, and the quality was high.

The future

The FIT Show moves to the NEC in Birmingham for 2017, and will then become a bi-annual event which will miss Fensterbau. This is important as the UK show doesn’t need to clash with a big European show.

The show has moved to facilitate growth. The FIT team will have looked at the growth targets this year as being hit, and will be fully aware that they need to increase revenues in order to put on a show which will fill the bigger and more expensive halls of the NEC.

However there will be pressure on all involved, be it the organisers or the exhibitors, to make sure that people walk through the doors. 2016’s show was popular because there were two years worth of new products and innovations to look at. Can we say the same amount of innovation and new product launches will be there in a years time? Time will tell. But people will only visit if there is a good enough reason to.

Long term, the future looks bright for the FIT Show and the glazing sector in general. Innovation is high and new products are being launched all the time. As long as this pace keeps up, we’ll be fine. As for the show itself, the 2017 exhibition is perhaps it’s biggest and sternest challenge. It has to be a success. With only a year between this and the next one, visitors and exhibitors alike need a good enough reason to go. Then, there is a two year break before the next one. Make it through 2017 OK, and the FIT Show should be one which should last for quite a long time.

A big well done to the whole FIT team for putting on another well organised and successful event, and here’s to the next one at the NEC!

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