Danke, Ambiente!

I’ve just flown back into the UK from my trip to the Ambiente homeware trade show in Frankfurt and buzzing from the experience.

Having worked in commercial roles within retail for over ten years, I’m pretty au fait with the trade show set-up and Ambiente is the fourth exhibition I’ve attended this year…the last haul round the halls. However, this is my first time attending Ambiente and so I was excited to see what jewels awaited in the 23 halls (yes 23…I will be clocking up the mileage!).

German efficiency shined through the moment the trip began with Lufthansa delivering excellent customer service – I may never fly with those dreaded budget airlines again (if only!). Everything just feels incredibly well thought through, from the free hotel shuttle bus that awaited me to the friendly stewards that greet visitors at each hall…this city absolutely has a warm welcome.

When I entered the first hall there was a row of stands with hundreds of different smoking pipes. Have I rocked up to the wrong trade show?! My mind was quickly put at ease having spotted table top and textiles. I am essentially initiating a sales chat with exhibitors and it is not lost on me that they’re the ones who have paid thousands of euros to have that privilege! But everyone I spoke to was happy to chat…whether it was presenting their product ranges or asking about the dreaded Brexit deal or no deal.

I find it fascinating to learn about the new trends: bold patterns, vintage prints, playfulness are among this year’s identified trends. Sustainability is another and thankfully most manufacturers are developing recycled/eco-friendly ranges now – it’s no longer just a random hall for the ‘eco warriors’. The numbering of the halls is quite perplexing and at times can feel like you’re never going to get around them all, just when you think you’ve managed to walk every row in a particular hall, lo and behold, there’s another two levels, e.g. Hall 4.0; 4.1 & 42. There are cafes on every turn, so easy to grab a pick me up (no not a strong German beer during the day, just a hit of caffeine!).

Whilst the recent Top Drawer and Spring Fair UK based trade shows were bustling with independent retailers placing orders on the spot, Ambiente is that and more with top level decisions being made by licensees and retail buyers. Despite these uncertain times, there is still inspiring new product innovation and serious opportunities for brands with longevity and purpose.

47,878 steps later and I bid farewell to Frankfurt. My walk has now turned to a weird shuffle as my feet are over it! I could have spent a week at Ambiente rather than two days, but the German efficiency rubbed off on me and the wad of business cards I accumulated reminds me how productive it’s been. And now….sleep :  )

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