Published On: Thu, Sep 14th, 2023

The ultimate live showroom for innovation

With the dust settling from the FIT Show extravaganza, exhibitors and visitors are starting to assess the value of attending the event. In all the years I have covered trade shows, I believe the events that are being put on for the industry today are delivered with intense enthusiasm and focus. Entering the NEC was like walking into a fenestration showroom, representing a snapshot not only of what is currently available but also of what we can expect to see in the not-too-distant future. We often associate the best exhibitions with car and motor shows, where leading manufacturers unveil the latest prototypes and soon-to-be-released models of vehicles. This year’s FIT Show had the feel of a motor show, and that is a massive testament to the commitment of many of the industry’s leading brands exhibiting. Stands were filled with new and unreleased products, and in many cases, products were being released to the market for the first time.

One of the many standout sectors at this year’s event was rooflights and lanterns. I have witnessed significant growth in this area over the last few years. What was staggering was how some of the longest-serving main players had once again driven innovation to the next level, despite the presence of new entrants in the market. When you observe trends, you can trace the rise in popularity of composite doors, flush sash frames, aluminium windows, and doors, and how they come to dominate the market. The roof lantern and roof lights market is really capturing the imagination of the sector and has become the latest on-trend creation. When you add in the exciting opportunities that solid roofs offer, it is easy to see why installers are starting to have real belief in the glazed extension market. I struggle to call it the conservatory sector now, as it offers so much more than just a conservatory! Nothing better illustrates the success of the FIT Show than a group of installers crowded around a roof lantern, touching and feeling the products, and fully engaging with the sales staff.

We often talk about how the people make the fenestration sector such a rewarding industry to work in; however, I believe this undermines the importance of the products. The amount of investment, engineering, and creative minds that contribute to creating new products time and time again is staggering. The little tweaks and upgrades to products that you think are impossible to improve upon are astounding. Locking systems and smart technology come to mind as an example. Fully concealed locking systems satisfy homeowners on many levels. One that comes to mind is the oversized door on the Maco stand, which appeared as a flush-faced wall but was, in fact, a door. This type of innovation and wow factor generates interest among homeowners. It may not be the product they end up purchasing, but it sparks engagement around fenestration and often leads to them buying some form of door or set of windows.

With interest rates continuing to rise and the cost of living crisis, anyone involved in selling relatively high-priced items has to work hard for their money and is again now competing with foreign holidays for a share of homeowners’ budgets. Selling the dream is still often key, and when you can offer new, innovative, and aesthetically pleasing products to improve the home, life becomes slightly easier. The FIT Show remains the ultimate live showroom showcasing what the industry has to offer. The 2023 event delivered on so many fronts—I’m already looking forward to the 2025 event!

John CowieEditor