As venues increase their in-house furniture contingent, providers are stocking new styles, and spotting new market niches
Organisers are increasingly focusing on furniture styles to catch visitors’ eyes, and this is prompting some serious product diversification. Victoria Rice, sales & marketing manager, Event Equipment Hire, says the company’s regular clients are asking for new, more unique pieces.
“We’re not taking a venue filled with bespoke items. But in addition to standard tables and chairs, one or two of our new range poseur tables and stools, positioned well in key places, can change the feel of an event.
“Venues and marquee companies are always looking to stock their own items, we don’t see this as too much of an issue as space is always their limitation. We can have greater numbers of all the basics, but we can offer so many more styles and options.”
With more styles being demanded, Sarah Williams, marketing manager, COF Solutions, says there’s an increased focus on trend spotting: “Our clients are looking for on trend pieces for their events and that’s why our velvet range is so popular. With sofas, booth seating, stools and dining chairs to choose from they can carry the theme throughout the venue. Also, our new Vincent Conference Chairs are also proving to be a hit. Its modern frame is a fresh new take on the traditional conference chair which is what seems to be the trend at the moment.”
A major player in the market, Europa International, warns that failure to innovate can make a company go stagnant. Helen Lowe, its events and marketing manager says: “Because we have such a huge amount of stock (30,000+ items, in fact), we have pretty much anything to suit any ‘look’. Our product range has certainly expanded and diversified over the years.”
Europa’s on-trend signature item at the moment is its Tolix range, which consists of bar stools, chairs and tables. “These are incredibly popular… so we have a lot of them to meet demand. It gives a great industrial vibe which you can dress up or down depending on your theme and event vibe, and it’s easy enough to add colours in the form of padded seat cushions to give another dimension,” adds Lowe.
“We still find though that, in addition to what’s ‘hot’, customers are still really keen on the ‘timeless look’ of some of our products, and our classic designer range of lounge furniture and chairs is always very popular indeed.”
Lowe adds: “Next year we’ll be focussing on expanding our new product ranges and making sure we’re offering our clients the latest furniture trends and colours.”
Also looking to the future, Rice says 2020 looks exciting with more variety in our stock than their competitors: “Our new range of unique furniture is something that we have been developing for a while. We keep an eye on interior trends for this, while ensuring that we have all the classic furniture to offer alongside it.
But supplying these items is not without its challenges. Williams says: “Logistics is always a challenge in the furniture industry, so with this in mind we’ve invested in electric vehicles. Not only are they cheaper to run but we’re also doing our bit to reduce harmful air pollution which is very important to us as a company.”
Eco concerns are also paramount for Lowe: “We are always looking at new furniture stock ideas and trends and love hearing from our clients on what they might be looking for which has a huge influence on where we invest. However, it’s really important for us that we are not entirely focused on new stock when it comes to expenditure, but also the broader investments that we need to make our business better and more efficient.
“For example, with the change in legislation regarding ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) for London we have purchased new transportation that will help us remain compliant; not only because we are very conscious of our own Carbon footprint, but also because this is a policy that looks set to roll out across the UK in the near future and we want to stay ahead of the curve.”
Lowe also site infrastructural and logistical challenges. “Because we have over 30,000 stock items and a number of warehouses, we are really well equipped to meet client’s last minute enquiries. Furthermore, we are able to service those requests because we have our own livered/branded trucks, so we don’t have to rely on hiring in extra vehicles. Short turnaround times can be challenging regardless of the infrastructure we have in place, but it’s part and parcel of the job we’re pretty proud to have the capacity to deal with it, and deal with it with smiles on our faces and bounces in our steps.”