‘Why we didn’t buy a stand at kbb…’
JJO sales director John Pollitt picks out his highlights from kbb Birmingham and explains why the company chose not to exhibit this year
JJO have been an ever-present exhibitor at the KBB exhibition since 2004. Following the introduction of Eco Bathroom Furniture in 2008 we’ve alternated our focus – kitchens followed by bathrooms up until 2016 when we featured both categories. It was therefore a very difficult decision not to exhibit at this year’s show.
This was basically down to the evolution of new product development. In 2016 we launched many new styles and colours at the exhibition. Since then, we’ve introduced a further 62 options, across kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture. The timing of the exhibition did not fall in line with our new product development plans. Wishing to remain involved within the event in a minor way, we sponsored the VIP lounge, displaying Moderna, a handless linear-styled kitchen. This worked well and allowed us to engage with visitors.
The extreme weather during the week leading up to the exhibition no doubt caused visitors to re-think their plans. Ordinarily, Sunday is the busiest day, with Monday not far behind, followed by Tuesday and then Wednesday. This year, Sunday started slowly and became busy in the afternoon. Monday was moderately busy, peaking on Tuesday.
The exhibition, as in 2016 had a great atmosphere with real positivity from all involved. European kitchen manufacturers were there in larger numbers. Scavolini displayed its handless shaker door, which they first introduced at Eurocucina in 2016. It’s a clever and original design, despite one UK manufacturer since claiming it as their own! German kitchen manufacturers seemed to be displaying designs with a very British flavour, while the British kitchen furniture manufacturers (JJO plc included) looked to be developing a taste for Germanic styling, with an explosion of handless kitchens.
Within the kitchen arena, copper was heavily presented, far more than two years ago. Appliance manufacturers are now introducing copper subtlety within the trim on various appliances. This was evident on the Smeg, Caple and Kuppersbusch stands. The introduction of copper into appliances will surely accelerate designers combining undermounted copper sinks, taps (and hot water taps) as presented by Abode, Franke and Caple.
While copper appeared to be the on-trend brassware finish within kitchens, matt black brassware and black-framed shower enclosures were widely presented within bathrooms, creating a monochrome effect against white sanitaryware. Bathroom furniture was again widely presented, with integrated lighting incorporated under basins and within mirrors. Modular furniture in traditional styling was heavily being presented.
There were some very creative stand designs. Caple dominated with a large stand, well positioned, made to look even bigger with the use of a large lighting rig, suspended from the roof. Caple presented a built-under fully-integrated wine cabinet with a glass furniture door fitted to the front. A very clever and original idea, which I am sure will sell extremely well.
Frontline’s stand stood out within bathrooms with their clever use of render and brick effect. Scudo looked very classy and you would be forgiven for assuming it was an Italian designed stand. Blum won the best stand design award and with justification. The company presented Space Tower, an alternative to pull out chrome larder baskets, which when presented and demonstrated correctly, will win orders from consumers hands down versus pull out wirework. Blum should also have won an award for bravery! Few managing directors would sign off floor space aimed at encouraging retailers to engage in marketing themselves alongside Blum, with the aid of Blum’s Space Tower website, rather than promoting tangible products.
The show was well supported by manufacturers and retailers. For those exhibiting, the real work starts now, following up the leads and converting it to business. For those exhibiting in two years, stand designs, concepts and new products will all start again, sooner than many would imagine!