Trends show sets the tone


[Bad Salzuflen, 16 February 2015] “Dear ZOW, that was great!” – these are the words of praise for the adapted workshop concept of ZOW spoken by Elmar Schüller, curator of the ZOW Lighting Forum, on the first evening of the fair. From 9-12 February, almost 7,000 trade visitors were provided with an insight into the latest trends and developments of the supply industry. The positive response did not only come from the founder and director of the Innovative Living Institute: “We are delighted that the re-orientation has been met with the fundamental approval of both the exhibiting supply companies as well as of the furniture manufacturers, buyers and designers”, states Horst Rudolph, managing director of events organiser Clarion Events Deutschland. “We are confident that the new concept will develop its full signal effect in the coming year and that we will achieve our target of attracting 500 exhibiting companies to the show.” A total of 204 exhibitors from 21 countries showcased their products and services at the 21st edition of ZOW. 24 innovative supply companies made their début as participants to take advantage of the opportunity to present themselves in Europe`s largest furniture cluster in Bad Salzuflen, to coincide in a timely manner with the beginning of the ordering cycle.

The fair and the exhibiting companies also received praise from the Dutch trend researcher Lidewij Edelkoort, who curated the new exhibition space ZOW-trend_works: “ZOW provides access to the innovations of the supply industry in a compact format. It is an ideal platform for the transfer of knowledge and experience”, remarks the Dutchexpert. In addition to the presentation of forthcoming design trends at the exhibition space ZOW trend_works, the main focus of the fair concerned the individualisation of serially produced furniture. This issue was highlighted at forums and special display areas along individual steps of the value chain. Furthermore, individualisation was the central theme of a panel discussion presented by Elmar Schüller on 11 February. The consensus among the attendees was that besides lean production at a high technological standard and sophisticated logistics, it is imperative that companies have, above all, a standardised data management system, an efficient supply network as well as a good team to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by individualisation. The kitchen industry has already set a good example here in the recent past where the import quota is now down to just one per cent.

“Although the furniture industry must rise to meet the challenges posed by this megatrend of progressing individualisation in the years to come, it does, however, also open up new perspectives for the sector. This is the reason why we will be continuing to focus on this key issue next year and providing case examples and potential solutions”, states Rudolph. By continuing with the focal issue of the fair, ZOW is, in particular, responding to the needs situation of the industry. Georg Frey, a partner of ZOW exhibiting company Lignum Consulting, also sees further potential for optimisation in many enterprises when it comes to product individualisation: “The approach taken by ZOW is precisely what is needed here. In the future, it will be increasingly important to be able to produce swiftly and in a cost-efficient and customised manner.” Therefore, the consulting company developed a self-assessment questionnaire in the run-up to the fair, which focused on the international timber and furniture industry: The questionnaire provides manufacturers and suppliers with information on the extent to which they are geared up for increasing variant diversity as well as ideas and proposals concerning what adjustments still need to be made.

Change of ownership creates new impetus

The targeted development of new markets will gain even more importance in the future by means of a change in ownership of the Clarion Events Group: At the beginning of the new business year, the event’s organiser was acquired by the investment company Providence Equity Partners as an overall group. The US-American company has already announced its intention to invest a sum in the three-digit million pounds range in the group as a whole in order to promote international growth to an even greater extent. “ZOW will also benefit from this investment boost”, explains Rudolph. The daily business operations of Clarion Events Deutschland will, however, not be affected by its affiliation with Providence Equity.


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