Positive Prospects at a Revamped Ambiente

By Allison Zisko

A restructured Ambiente fair, which eliminates permanent tabletop stands and relocates those companies to temporary booths in Hall 4, has been well received, and vendors are enthusiastic about their prospects in a new, yet familiar setting as the shows get underway this month.

Key tabletop companies, including Villeroy & Boch, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton and Orrefors Kosta Boda, said the new format will not change their show strategies much, but will enhance their visual presentations and inject some new life into the show. The show takes place Feb. 12-16, 2010, in Frankfurt, Germany.

"With Ambiente's new layout categorization across the whole fair, it will provide a fresh, exciting and rejuvenated showcase," said Michael Craig, group vice president, Americas, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton, whose company's overall display space will be smaller than past years in terms of square footage, but promises "stronger displays" of best-selling collections and product introductions.

"The new layout should help visitors navigate product categories more smoothly and [will] have a positive impact," said Sal Gabbay, president of Gibson.

Show organizer Messe Frankfurt implemented many structural changes in an effort to adapt to the current needs of the market and promote a better buying and selling environment, said Nicolette Naumann, vice president of Ambiente and sister show Tendence. Noting declining consumer demand for formal tabletop products, in conjunction with growth in the kitchen sector, Messe Frankfurt determined that the previous floor plan, featuring the permanent tabletop stands in Hall 10, was no longer viable. Hall 10 has been temporarily taken off the circuit, Hall 11 has been constructed for furniture and accessories, and the entire layout of the show has been rotated 180 degrees so that the Dining sections of the fair will be on the city-side of the exhibition center for the first time.

Tabletop companies have been relocated to Hall 4. Contemporary design-focused manufacturers will be on 4.0, high-end brands will be found on 4.1 and more casual, everyday names will be on 4.2.

Temporary stands in a new location should be good for business, vendors said.

"We are positive about the location," Craig said. "We think we will see more new customers than in the former Hall 10 location. We believe the new location will provide a positive impact for all our brands. The new location will allow us to launch to our trade partners a new visual merchandising direction as well as strong new product stories."

Eva-Marie Hagstrom, manager of press and information for Orrefors Kosta Boda, which will have a smaller stand than in the past, believes the current plan is better than permanent stands because a stand that can be built up and then taken down every year allows for more flexibility. "It gives us increased opportunities to show different expressions," she said.

Villeroy & Boch has likewise embraced the flexibility of a temporary booth. At roughly 1,000 square meters including flooring (about 10,000 square feet), its new stand will be larger than in the past and is flexible, mobile and can be constructed in a few days, said Adolf Scholtes, head of marketing and communication. Forty people built the stand in three days; decoration also took three days. Stand scenery includes different living rooms "with a warm, country-like touch, partly with a loft atmosphere." There is also an interplay between two and three-dimensional space.

"The new location and the completely new designed booth are important for a good, efficient presentation of our products and creative representation of our brand to all our business partners," said Scholtes. "But it will not have any impact on our strategies."

Indeed, the success of this show will depend on new products, design quality and marketing strategies, he said, much as it has in the past.

As usual, the fair will serve as a platform for longtime companies as well as newcomers and for new opportunities from familiar brands. Portmeirion Group, for instance, will unveil a new concept for Spode, the first introduction under Portmeirion Group's new ownership, while Rosseto will focus on entertaining-based products, like its party dishes and biodegradable cutlery, in its debut at the show. In what will be its second time at the show, Gourmet Display hopes to make new contacts in both the retail and the hospitality industry industries with its handmade glass trays, LED display units and porcelain and melamine serveware, said export manager Yannick Martin.

Key trends for this market include simplicity in design, a back-to-nature approach and an emphasis on hearth and home.

"There is reconciliation with nature, and the outdoors is increasingly linked to the inside," said Craig. "There is more simplicity, quality and softness--beautiful naturals and truth to materials."

Overall, expectations for this show are good. "We are well prepared and optimistic and have to await the response of the trade," Scholtes said.

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

HFN provides detailed information on the key home classifications: Housewares, Tabletop, Floor Covering & Rugs, Furniture, Home Textiles, Lighting, Home Decor, Mattresses & Bedding, Gifts, Major Appliances and Consumer Electronics as well as Business, Finance and Retail.


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