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08/07/2016 / Graham Lowe

Firex Review 2016

2016 firex group photo.png

In 2014, Firex International moved from the NEC in Birmingham to the ExCeL in London, and it’s fair to say that the move has caused some controversy within the UK’s fire industry!

UBM, the exhibition organisers, explained that the key reasons for the relocation were to make the show more accessible to international visitors and to move manufacturers and distributers closer to the end user. Having analysed our own data captured during the past 4 shows, we are able to reveal that; in 2013 (the final year in Birmingham) 26% of our visitors were from overseas, and in 2014 (the first year in London) we saw a huge increase with 44% of visitors from overseas. However, the novelty of London was short lived and the number of overseas visitors plummeted to 29% in 2015 and only rose slightly to 32% in 2016.

With regards to reaching end users; in 2014 and 2015 we gained a number of new contacts from the construction, retail, healthcare and public sectors, however in 2016 there was a noticeable reduction in the number of end users we saw. However, we were pleased with the number of electrical installers, facilities companies and security companies we met this year. In fact, the cross over from the security show (IFSEC) was particularly good; 45% of our visitors came from the security sector, which highlights the fact that so many security companies are now branching into fire safety.

We mustn’t forget that alongside the move to London, came the shift from a biennial exhibition to an annual exhibition which has also sparked some interesting debate. The fire industry is notoriously slow moving and so some companies are struggling to justify the expense of exhibiting at Firex every year. You might have noticed that some exhibitors have therefore decided to take the ‘one year on, one year off’ approach, whilst other exhibitors have decided to drastically reduce the size of their stand.

So how does this reflect on visitor numbers? Generally, we were pleased with both the number and quality of visitors to Firex, and have seen an increase in visitor numbers year on year for the past 3 years. It is however, probably worth noting that this year there was a substantial dip in visitors on day 3, but this could have been, in part, due to the flooding seen across the South East that morning which disturbed both rail and road networks.

Before moving to London, UBM were keen to highlight the fact that, being the capital city, London would carry its own allure. This is certainly true; with the London Eye, Tower Bridge, The O2 and many other landmarks so close to the ExCeL it is certainly something that exhibitors can take advantage of when entertaining guests; and so we did! This year, on the Wednesday evening, we took some of our customers over to the O2 via the Emirates Cable Cars, to enjoy an evening of music, food, drink and networking. We also took this opportunity to award 14 trophies in recognition of the tremendous sales growth seen by a number of our customers this year. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and a number of photos can be found on our Twitter page.

What are our plans for next year? Next year we are considering mixing things up a little; maybe changing the size, position and design of our stand completely! We currently have lots of ideas bouncing around, so watch this space!

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