The decision to postpone January’s big UK show cannot have been easy – but it was the “best option” for all concerned, says the portfolio director of Clarion Events’ Retail division, Zo? Bonser. Now taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 24-27th April, the January Furniture Show (JFS) still promises to be an essential outing for trade professionals, while boasting even greater scope this time around … ?

Where does the show stand in terms of exhibitor numbers, pre-registrations, etc?

The response from the industry for the April dateline has been fantastic. All major brands in the UK, Europe and the Far East have confirmed their attendance, and visitor registration is ahead of the 2020 event. We’ve had an influx of brands register their interest now the dateline is in April, and visitors stating they are now able to attend the April dateline.?

What factors influenced your decision to postpone the exhibition when you did??

The safety and wellbeing of the community and everyone involved with JFS is paramount, and this will always be put first. We wanted to give our exhibitors, visitors and partners the best possible chance of success, as well as give the industry the time it needs to prepare for an event like JFS. With this in mind, we felt it was the best option to postpone to a later dateline when the industry could feel confident, safe and secure. ?

Why did you settle on the new late April slot??

We felt the UK would be in a better position with regards to tackling the evolving pandemic, and, through consultation with the market, we know April is still a good time to run the UK’s leading furniture event safely and successfully. Plus, we have managed to secure the same footprint with the venue.?

Seeing how Omicron’s spread actually progressed through Christmas and January, do you regret the decision at all??

No! The safety of everyone involved will always come first! Myself and the team have been speaking with the industry, and by their own admission they felt it would have been difficult to attend due to staffing and contractor concerns. In turn, we want to ensure visitors have full confidence in attending safely. It would have also been very difficult for our international exhibitors, visitors and contractors to enter the UK and make the January dateline.?

What do you think the benefits of exhibitors and buyers going to market in April this year (instead of January) might be??

The April event will be able to run successfully and safely. We know we’ll attract more European buyers and European brands to the April event. The event features a new talks programme, and the VIP offering will be the best yet for our visitors. The April dateline will really benefit the brands’ order books, and give buyers that much-needed opportunity to touch and feel product, as well as meet the whole industry, in person.?

How much do you think JFS in April is likely to benefit from greater international scope??

With the cancellation of imm cologne and the relaxation of travel restrictions, we have already seen increased registrations from European buyers. As the event now falls outside Chinese New Year, we’ve seen a number of enquiries from Chinese brands, as well as enquiries from new European brands wanting to showcase. This is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to welcoming a wide range of exhibitors to JFS 2022.?

Does the extra lead-up time mean visitors can expect any improvements on what was originally planned for January??

Yes – the April date allows us to deliver a new programme of content at the show, Furniture Talks, launching this year. Some speakers we had approached were a little hesitant on the January date, but are happy to be involved in April, when they feel we can run a safer, more successful show.?

Furniture Talks will give attendees access to the latest trend insights, as well as to the industry’s leading experts, who will be on hand to share their advice through keynote presentations, masterclasses and panel discussions.

We will also be announcing and showcasing the winners of The Furniture Awards, and buyers will benefit from seeing the winning brands and products at the show. Emerging designers from the Young Furniture Makers awards will also be showcasing their inspirational designs.?

We can’t wait for the industry to get involved in all the new activations that will take place in April.?

Finally, please summarise why the trade should visit JFS this April …?

Firmly established as the largest and most popular furniture and interiors event in the UK calendar, the event in April promises to deliver an exceptional buying experience. With an exhibitor list comprising over 400 UK and international exhibitors, supplying upholstery, cabinet, beds and interior accessories, JFS really is a one-stop shop for all the latest collections in furniture and accessories. Plus, with the introduction of expert seminar content to enhance attendees’ experience, the 2022 edition will be one not to be missed. The JFS team cannot wait to see you there!

This interview was published in the February 2022 issue of Furniture News magazine.