As our industry continues to adapt to a landscape that seems to change every week, I spoke with the organisers of the 2021 FIT Show to see how they were planning for the next live trade show and how the ongoing and evolving circumstances are shaping their preparations.
1. How many exhibitors have signed on for 2021 since the industry has gone back to work?
“We have been having positive conversations with various brands throughout the COVID pandemic, which culminated with a record-breaking sales month for us in June.
“The uplift in sales amounted to almost 1000m2, with over 50% of space now sold for FIT Show 2021. In terms of number of exhibitors, we signed 12 significant brands in June as the lockdown restrictions were eased. July is traditionally a quiet month for sales but we have already exceeded all previous records.”
2. It looks increasingly likely that face coverings and masks will become mandatory in the future as we seek to keep the virus at bay. Will it be one of the requirements at the 2021 exhibition?
“At this stage it is far too early to tell what the full guidelines will be around social distancing and facemasks come next May. However, as always, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and release further information if and when it is appropriate.
“It is always our mission to safeguard the health of our teams, and each and every stakeholder within our FIT Show community. We will continue to work closely with the NEC, government and Associations, and follow all national and global health and welfare guidelines to ensure that FIT Show is run, as always, to the highest health and safety standards.
3. The industry is about to embark on a long road to recovery, how does the show plan to help the sector get back on its feet and to profitability?
“I believe that a hugely influential factor on the speed of the industry’s recovery will be centred around the full economic impact of COVID-19. The introduction of the Greener Homes Grant Scheme and, in particular, the £1billion boost to make public buildings and social housing more environmentally friendly can only be a good thing.
“Exhibitions, by their very nature, help to boost the economy and bring people together to do more business. We see FIT Show as a positive beacon for the industry – a key milestone for us all to work towards positively and help drive the industry’s recovery.
“Our learning programme for 2021 will focus on helping our audience to do better business. Be that maximising the various Government funding schemes, identifying the various routes to upskilling, practical advice on broadening out into complementary products and services, or just good old fashioned business advice.”
4. 2020 was supposed to be the year of sustainability, what plans does the show have to tackle this very pressing issue in 2021?
“Sustainability has always been on our radar as an important theme. We will be working alongside our 21 exhibitors to help unearth the efforts that they are making to be more sustainable and shining a spotlight on these via the case studies and the learning programme. My gut feeling is that this will, rightly or wrongly, be a less prominent theme in 2021 given the events of 2020.”
5. What is the reaction of the FIT Show to the new trainee and apprenticeship schemes announced by the Chancellor last week? How will the show seek to help the industry take advantage of this?
“We wholeheartedly welcome last week’s announcement regarding the new trainee and apprenticeships scheme. We will be working closely with the various associations and training providers in the run-up to FIT Show 2021 to ensure that our show features and content adequately signpost the various routes into the industry.
“We are committed to driving grassroots within this industry and will be looking to build on the work we started at FIT Show 2019 with the launch of Skills Thursday.”
6. What do you think is going to be the most important subject matter at the 2021 show other than the pandemic?
“I believe that trust and transparency will be key themes in 2021. Brands across the globe will be looking to instil confidence and trust amongst their customers. Our visitors will be looking to see which brands have weathered the COVID storm, and a stand at FIT Show is a physical demonstration that they are ready to connect with the market.
“We will be connecting our visitors with the best suppliers – from products and materials through to tools – to ensure that they can meet high homeowner standards, build trust and do better business.”
7. With Brexit approaching at the end of the year, what impacts do you think this will have on UK fenestration?
“I think given recent events, rightly or wrongly, Brexit has moved down on people’s agenda. We can’t predict what the full impact of this will be, but we have seen a surge in interest from overseas companies, in particular from Turkey, who are looking to tap into the UK market. I expect this will evolve over the coming months and we’ll have a truer picture of the full impact of Brexit at the show next year.
“We have earmarked slots within the seminar and learning programme to cover key issues such as Brexit, but won’t be putting the final details to this until much nearer the time.”
8. What safety and social distancing measures are going to be in place at the 2021 show to help keep people safe?
“It is our mission to safeguard the health of our teams, and each and every stakeholder within our FIT Show community. We will continue to work closely with the NEC, regional governments and Associations, and follow all national and global health and welfare guidelines to ensure that FIT Show is run, as always, to the highest health and safety standards.
“It’s far too early to predict what restrictions or alterations may need to be imposed when we reach May 2021. But we have, and will continue to, closely monitor the situation and will release further information if and when it is appropriate.
“We are working with organisers and exhibition associations across the UK on an ‘all secure standard’ which will be an industry benchmark to enable the safe return and onward success of organised events. This, coupled with our own set of guiding principles, which of course will be constantly reviewed, will ensure all measures necessary will be in place to safeguard our health and safety standards.”
9. If you had to give one reason for companies to exhibit in 2021, what would it be?
“After an extended period of restricted face-to-face interactions – and with the majority of 2020 exhibitions and trade shows being cancelled – FIT Show 2021 will be the first major UK platform for brands to connect with their customers, en masse.
“Face to face interaction has been sorely missed. We will have a captive audience of visitors who will be lining up to reconnect with suppliers, see the latest products and innovations and do better business. I believe brands will see FIT Show 2021 as the number ONE opportunity to do business that they can’t afford to miss.”
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