UK fabric trade show Textile Forum got off to a busy start this week, as buyers flocked to One Marylebone in London to see what textile manufacturers had to offer.
Exhibitors, many of whom have attended since the show launched in 2002, were pleased that there had been a steady flow of visitors throughout the first day of the show, which ran on 16 and 17 October.
Ten-time exhibitor John Ashley, chairman of Nottingham-based button supplier Jones Buttons, said: “[Textile Forum] is a lovely show because it attracts all different kinds of people. We’ve had lots of visitors today – like every other year – from smaller businesses and start-ups to bigger, well-known companies.
“We come here because, unlike many of our competitors, we still hold stock. This means that we can work with businesses right away and we come here looking for anyone who wants to buy, be it one button for 5 or 5m buttons: we cater for everyone.”
Yalcin Agded of Turkey-based fashion and fabric wholesaler Starsign Fabrics, who also has a showroom in Brent in London, agreed: “We’ve exhibited here for the past four years and today has definitely been busier than last year. We’ve seen lots of happy visitors – mostly from the UK but also from the EU and lots of Indian buyers. Business isn’t easy at the moment, not least because of Brexit, but we’ve had some conversations, which we hope will generate sales.”
Another upbeat exhibitor was Andrew Kenny, managing director of embroidery specialist London Embroidery Studio. Having made his Textile Forum debut this year, he said: “I’m really impressed with how busy it’s been. This morning was full-on, but it’s been lovely because we are a small business and this show seems to attract other small businesses.
“Most people that have come to our stand are based in London and have projects ready to go. This is great for us, as they’re accessible and want to get to work right away.
“The reason we decided to exhibit was because trading has definitely slowed down recently, and we wanted to drum up business. We’ll definitely be back next year.”
Sean Banbury, owner of Barcelona-based distributor Nunoya, echoed fears over trading conditions, which he primarily blamed on Brexit.
“We are based in Barcelona so Brexit is a big concern. Whatever the outcome, I will definitely be affected. My largest UK client, for example, expects me to swallow the import duty. If I do that, then it will really hit my margins, if not then I risk losing a really important customer.”
Banbury was happy with footfall at the show and said the “intimacy” of the small and central location was preferable to bigger venues. He also said that he had made some “interesting” leads and that Textile Forum is ”a well-organised, high quality” show that he will continue to attend.
Despite exhibitors’ unanimous approval, show co-founder Linda Laderman admitted that she was “a bit nervous” about this edition of the Textile Forum given the “difficult conditions out there”, she said, listing Brexit, the high street, trading conditions and changing buying habits among others.
“But we have a niche show, and that works in our favour,” said Textile Forum co-founder Linda Laderman.
“Life goes on and people still need to do business. We always make sure that we have a mix of new and recurring exhibitors, across all categories, and work hard to get the right visitors through the door.”
She added: “We never track footfall because, as far as I’m concerned, as long as exhibitors are happy with the quality and quantity of visitors that come through the door, then who cares about numbers? They want conversations with people who are interested in buying and we help foster that.”