With its fourth edition to be held from 5-8th December in Porte de Versailles, Paris, Espritmeuble is raising the bar even higher for this year’s edition. Victoria Noakes spoke to Gaétan Ménard, chairman of the fair, to find out more about the upcoming event ...

What was the reaction from visitors and exhibitors regarding last year’s event?
In 2014 visitors were very enthusiastic about their visit to Espritmeuble – 95% said they were satisfied or very satisfied in the survey performed after the fair. The reaction from the exhibitors was just as positive because 93% have decided to participate again in 2015.

The quality and servcies that we offered visitors to the show did not go unnoticed. Free drinks and catering was provided, and the quality of the offer was enriched particularly by a move upmarket in the presentation of the exhibiting brands.

Was the show as successful as you had hoped?
We were satisfied with the increased quality in both the trade fair and the exhibitors. The attendance level – up 10% – is very positive, and exhibitors have been encouraged to return again in 2015.

We believe these are the bases on which to build the future. The reactions have been very promising but we have to keep in mind that Espritmeuble remains at the service of our profession and that the next staging must be even more interesting than the last.

What are Espritmeuble’s goals?
There are three main objectives of Espritmeuble. The first is business – we want to contribute towards helping to create turnover between manufacturers and distributors.The second is to create a friendly atmosphere. Distributors are received into a warm, welcoming and dynamic world where they feel considered. Our way of doing things is unique. The third is innovation – Espritmeuble takes the position of a sounding board for the European furniture sector to innovate.

We have made Espritmeuble a cornerstone for the trade in France and partially in Germany and Belgium too. Nevertheless there remains work to be done to introduce all the expertise and the rich offer at Espritmeuble to a number of foreign distributors, particularly the British!

What makes this year’s Espritmeuble different to other years?
The 2015 theme is growth. Instead of 200 there will be 300 brands present, two halls instead of one, giving us 40,000m2 instead of 30,000m2. So yet again we have crossed a new barrier and this is shown in a very significant strengthening of the offer, proof that the big brands can identify with Espritmeuble today. This means visitors will have even greater choice and new products will be in abundance!

Who will be exhibiting?
As the fair has been enlarged once again we will have all the big brands in the sector like Tréca, Celio, Ernest Ménard, Calia and Couture. We will also have new exhibitors who asked for space in 2014 but unfortunately weren’t able to be accommodated.

The offer is made up of half French brands and half international brands, from countries including Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, China and more. This year Espritmeuble will welcome 74 new exhibitors (so far), amongst which will be Ekornès, Calligaris, Himolla, Duvivier and Hukla. There are also less well known names to discover or rediscover.

Will there be any special features at this year’s event?
The central theme for 2015 is to enter the future of tradition. We want to spotlight the expertise of the companies and the men and women in the furniture sector. We would like to improve the perception of our trades with high quality products made by very talented men and women. Our heritage is a real treasure, and this is what we want to show. It will be both a demonstration of this expertise and an introduction to the future of our trade.

What’s more, we have decided to support distributors beyond the offer of furniture, seating or beds to allow them to reach various players in decoration and service providers – whether it be information systems, logistics or merchandising. The idea is to bring together everything a distributor needs for success.

What makes Espritmeuble attractive to an international audience?
We are very lucky to be in the centre of Paris – it is very easy to get to Espritmeuble. The offer has now become international. Proof of this is that the big brands are coming to Espritmeuble.

Espritmeuble is now an important event in the calendar of international purchasers, providing an offer that they cannot find elsewhere. What is most encouraging for us is that the vast majority of international purchasers who have been before want to come back, which proves they found it of great interest. Our surveys show that they are attracted by the diversity of the offer. In addition, we have developed an international purchasers’ invitation programme to make the visit to Paris easier.

The date that Espritmeuble is held also enables effective preparations to be made for the end of the sales period, so that delivery is just after they finish in February 2016.

What will visitors from the UK in particular gain from the event?
The English market has undergone a great deal of development in the last few years, just like the various European markets. Espritmeuble is the place for British distributors to meet a large majority of the players that are not seen much in Great Britain at the moment. This is the platform to renew links and to differentiate their offer by discovering other possibilities. We would be delighted to welcome you and invite you to enjoy our free gala evening on the Monday.

How is the show unique compared with other European events?
Espritmeuble resulted from the desire of three French industrialists in the furniture sector – Alain Liault, chairman and MD of Meubles Célio, Gilles Silberman, vice-president of the Cauval Group, and myself, MD of Meubles Ernest Ménard – to create a trade fair which really met the profession’s challenges. The event is organised by furniture professionals for furniture professionals.

Moreover, French distributors are totally involved in the success of Espritmeuble because most of the medium and top-of-the-range distribution groups exhibit and the fair is supported by FNAEM, the French federation of distributors.To my knowledge, there is not another trade fair in the world which combines distribution and production in this way to work towards a common future.

What are Espritmeuble’s future plans?
We anticipate continuing to make Espritmeuble an important date in the European show calendar by strengthening the diversity and attractiveness of the offer in order to justify the trust of our visitors as exhibiting brands.

We are aiming to drive and bring together our profession so as to provide a high quality service and enthusiasm throughout the trade. This is the very reason for creating Espritmeuble. We are looking for growth, of course, we will always adhere to our values to retain this feeling of communal interest.

This article was featured in the August issue of Furniture News magazine.