Taking the floor

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Alex Robertson, the MD of established furniture provider JMT Indisplay is seeing increased confidence in the exhibition industry as businesses look ahead to what 2015 will bring. Speaking to EN not long after the firm had finished some experimental work at the World Travel Market show at Excel London, Robertson believes the uplift in the UK economy is being reflected in the industry. “Attendances, exhibitions and net square metreage are moving in the right direction,” he tells EN.Reed is one of the firm’s main organiser customers, along with Centaur and Brintex. JMT has also picked up a new client, organiser UKFE for the National Gay Wedding Show to be held over two days at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester in January 2015. “Clients are investing in non-traditional lounge furniture,” says Robertson. “The visitor proposition needs to be maximised. Furniture has a key part to play for an exhibition.” The firm’s clients are increasingly moving towards illuminated bar counters and reception desks.“We have also launched a charging bench for people to sit down and recharge their phones,” he adds. “Generally you don’t have easy access to sockets at a show.”  JMT tried out its new designs at Reed’s recent World Travel market held in early November 2014 at Excel London. “We customised our new charging benches by re-upholstering in fuscia pink to match the colour scheme of the feature areas,” Robertson explains. The firm is also launching a range of vinyls and laminates for organisers and stand builders. “We believe that the market for laminates is not well covered in the UK,” says Robertson.Chairing a charity drive The firm also joined the effort to raise money for BBC Children in Need 2015. JMT created a charity auction on eBay for a special bean bag chair. Made from white leatherette, the stylish seat was one of a kind, having been carefully rebranded with the signature Pudsey bear bandage motif of multicolored polka dots and hearts. Each of the shapes was hand cut by JMT staff, and carefully applied by eye using permanent flexible adhesive by JMT’s spraypaint technician, Daniel. The uniquely branded bean bag chair, which measured 70cm x 90cm, will comfortably seat one adult (with their teddy bear), and meets or exceeds all relevant fire retardant and safety regulations. The hand decorated “Pudsey” bean bag chair was listed on eBay using its charity auction facility, so 100 per cent of the winning bid went to the Children In Need charity. JMT also paid for free postage and packaging to the winning bidder, Vivid Ink PR. Looking Ahead However Robertson did warn of possible dangers to the UK exhibition industry. “Some of the restrictions in the UK are impacting on shows. Build times in the UK tend to be much tighter. It impacts on furniture because we are at the end of the chain.” He also notes the potential impact of some of our leading venues in 2015. “It will be interesting to see how the sale of the NEC and the closure of Earls Court will impact as a whole. Stand builders may see better margins abroad for shows.” But for now, Robertson sees the growing influence of the industry as a result of its discussions with government departments including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as good news.“Another positive is the recent changes in the personnel at the exhibition industry’s trade bodies,” Robertson adds. Certainly JMT is gearing up for bigger business in 2015.  This article was first published in the January issue of EN. Any comments? Email Jamie Wallis
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