A guide to the UK furniture shows of 2020

  •    Author: Mike Jasfer

From one-stop shops to intimate affairs, 2020 is bursting with UK-based furniture trade exhibitions, giving buyers the opportunity to engage with sellers and experience those all-important tactile qualities of new product – here’s a helpful summary of the nation’s busy event calendar … 
Top Drawer starts the proceedings when it returns to London’s Olympia from 12-14th, promising “the best selection of over 1500 leading brands and new names” across 11 sectors, Home among them.
Buying group AIS invites its members to attend a private show at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Shirley from 17-18th, before opening to the general trade on 19-20th. This year’s AIS Furniture Show will feature more than 40 suppliers (including eight exclusive debut appearances) from home and overseas.
The event overlaps the UK sector’s principal exhibition, the nearby January Furniture Show. Occupying halls 1-5 of the NEC Birmingham from 19th-22nd, the fair is set to feature a huge number of exhibitors, arranged across sectors dedicated to Premium Design, Interior Accessories and Living & Dining, plus a significant complement of beds and lighting. Each year, the show sees the launch of more than 50,000 new products, making it an essential destination for buyers.
One-stop shop Spring Fair will dominate Birmingham’s NEC from 2nd-6th, with the Everyday sector opening one day earlier. In 2020, Spring Fair’s Home & Living offer will combine Living Accents & Décor, Floral, Cook & Dine and The Summerhouse, as part of a layout revision spanning halls 6, 19 and 20, providing visitors with “the largest continuous collection of Home & Living across Europe”. 
Later in the month, The Linens Show (exclusively for AIS members) returns to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Solihull on 25-26th, at the same time as the BFM Fabric Show London takes place at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium,  bringing suppliers exclusive upholstery and soft furnishing fabrics and treatments from more than 35 brands.
Fabrics remain in focus at the Irish Interiors Showcase, taking place from 4-5th at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast (a companion event takes place in Dublin from 4-5th), while London Design Week’s luxury goods occupy Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour from 8-13th.
Traditionally held each January, North Point returns to Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre from 26-28th – here, a large number of supplier representatives will present opportunities for buyers in Scotland and the north of England.
Spring Long Point returns to its traditional slot, running from 4-6th May across various permanent and temporary showrooms in the Derbyshire town of Long Eaton, and enabling visitors to engage with some of the UK’s finest upholstery and cabinet manufacturers. Meanwhile, the regional South West Bed Show is set to return to Sedgemoor Auction Centre in Somerset from 12-13th.
Later in the month, Clerkenwell Design Week will enliven London’s design district from 19th-21st, and the Minerva Furniture Group’s members are invited to attend the buying group’s annual private show at Stoneleigh Park Exhibition Centre from 19-20th. From 28-29th, meanwhile, AIS members will return to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre for the private AIS Bed and Bedroom Show.
Quality contract furnishings are in the spotlight when The Hospitality Interiors Show (THIS) makes its debut at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena from 10-11th, while AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre again for another private members’ show, this time dedicated to furniture – the private AIS Furniture Show takes place from 23-24th. 
The first phase of New Designers, a lively showcase which serves as an industry launchpad, arrives at Islington’s Business Design Centre from 1st-4th, and Phase 2 (which incorporates furniture) follows, on 8-11th.
Concurrently, Solex, the show run by the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association’s (LOFA), returns to the Birmingham NEC from 7-9th with a complement of garden furniture and barbecues, while the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival brings interior products, giftware and fashion goods to Harrogate Convention Centre from 19th-22nd.
The UK’s second-largest dedicated furniture event, the Manchester Furniture Show (featuring MidPoint), is back at Manchester Central from 19th-21st. Organised by the team behind the January Furniture Show, this is the summer’s key trade event, giving buyers the chance to source new and updated products in a relaxed environment city-centre setting.
It may be just outside the UK, but the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show (IFHS) is a notable fixture, and is set to return to Dublin’s National Show Centre from 22nd-25th. 
In anticipation of peak sales season, September is a busy month for exhibitions. The private AIS Bed Show is back at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull on 2nd-3rd, while Autumn Fair, Spring Fair’s later counterpart, returns to the Birmingham NEC from 6-9th, with the launch of a new zone dedicated to large-scale interiors products, The Furniture Collection, running alongside its established gifts, homewares and decor offering.
From 8-10th the South West Furniture Show, an enduring agent-run event, will take place at Sedgemoor Auction Centre, Somerset, while the year’s second Top Drawer show returns to London’s Olympia from 13-15th, and outdoor exhibition Glee is back at the Birmingham NEC from 15-17th.
The focus shifts to the design-led as London Design Festival hits the capital from 12th-20th, featuring a host of creative events that reinforce the UK’s global significance as a design hub. This gathering sparks events including Design London (previously 100% Design), London Design Fair (at Truman Brewery from 17-20th), and designjunction.
Autumn Long Point will see Long Eaton’s finest open their showrooms once again following the spring event, from 21st-23rd. This week also features the UK’s key bed industry event, the Bed Show, running from 22nd-23rd at The International Centre, Telford. This popular exhibition features beds, bedmaking machinery and components from the National Bed Federation’s (NBF) members.
The Autumn Furniture Show, organised by the Minerva Furniture Group but open to the general trade, takes place at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, from 6-7th, promising plentiful buying opportunities.
The Furniture Makers Company’s Young Furniture Makers Exhibition, a celebration of student craft, held at the Dutch Church and Furniture Makers’ Hall in Austin Friars, London, will take place on 7th, while high-end showcase Decorex International is back at London’s Olympia from 11-14th, concluding a busy sourcing calendar for domestic furniture and furnishings. 
Given the market’s uncertainties and changing plans, anyone interested in visiting any of these shows should check the official websites before attending, and pre-register when possible. A full calendar of national and international exhibitions can also be found on the Furniture News website.

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