Published On: Thu, Jun 27th, 2019

Big brands showing tomorrow’s big trends

Windows Active Editor John Cowie believes exhibitions are a perfect platform to discover new innovation

Trade exhibitions are where brands show tomorrow’s big trends. Over the last two years following the previous FIT Show, exhibitors at this year’s exhibition have been working tirelessly to ensure their investment in innovation culminated in a display of products and services that excite the marketplace. I have been covering trade exhibitions in various trade markets for over 25 years, and this year’s FIT Show ranks among the best. Three days were not enough to unearth all that the industry has to offer; however leaving the final day to investigate the outer regions of the exhibition was a worthwhile experience. When we look for big trends, it is important to look for fledgling creations as well as the evolution of tried and tested segments. Not all of ‘tomorrow’s big trends’ will ever make it to tomorrow, however you can bet your bottom dollar there is a powerful force at work along the supply and purchasing chains, ensuring every effort is being made to make them a reality.

The smart revolution
Smart Technology is one such area, and it divides opinion. Exhibitors in this field were preaching to the converted when demonstrating their propositions to me. The challenge comes in persuading installers and retailers to start pushing the innovations to homeowners. All providers had a differing proposition and all warranted a closer look. Smart Ready grabbed many of the headlines with its awe-inspiring stand. Beneath the stand’s attention-grabbing light box was also an offering that was equally as impressive. What was particularly important was Smart Ready’s purpose to not just promote a smart product, but it also centred on the promotion of the concept of ‘Smart Ready’ akin to the way televisions are promoted as ‘HD Ready’. To gain real market penetration, the industry needs to offer differing levels of smart adoption, and by making windows and doors ‘Smart Ready’ as an alternative to actually smart, consumers offer different levels to enter the smart revolution. In addition, I believe it is important to identify that smart windows and doors don’t have to centre on actually locking. Just knowing if windows and doors are left open or have been tampered with is a very important consideration for homeowners.

What was abundantly clear was that the industry needs different options in order for smart technology to be adopted by the mass market. The Mila/Mighton offering was popular with fabricators and installers, as it offered little disruption in terms of manufacturing and centred on a recognised way of opening and closing a door. ERA displayed an impressive solution that formed links with surveillance systems and keyless access via a smartphone. Kubu was one for the technologically minded, aiming to target the volume and mass market, while Brisant demonstrated their partnership with Salto to create a smart technology for the Sweet handle. The FIT Show gave visitors a great opportunity to try them all out and that is what a trade exhibition is all about, touching, feeling and asking questions.

It’s been 2 years since the last FIT Show and what was clear is that many exhibitors have been working hard at developing new and enhanced products. Epwin unveiled their new aluminium systems Stellar, while Korniche previewed a new aluminium bi-fold and Veka released a new matt-finished PVC-U window. This is what a trade show is all about, launching and previewing. Future concepts are also important to gauge market reaction. Maco showed their window of the future and Liniar previewed their future concept, an aluminium-clad PVC-U window. It’s these new ideas and products, many featured over the following pages, that draw visitors to the exhibition.

Eagerness to see what’s new
Opinion from the 10,107 unique visitors to the 2019 FIT Show was positive and this is testament to the large number of innovations on show and the eagerness to see what’s new and different. This was perfectly illustrated by a retailer who remarked to me: “I’m here to see if there is anything new I should be selling and to see what’s out there that will wow homeowners. In all honesty, I’ve been impressed and will take away a few ideas that I should be looking at. But it’s not all about new ideas, I have seen a few products I already sell, but have seen alternatives from different suppliers that offer more in terms of aesthetics, ease of fitting and functionality. So overall it was a worthwhile visit.”