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FIT Show 2017: Day One Review

Day One of the 2017 FIT Show has come to an end, welcome to your official DGB FIT Show 2017 day one review. Lots to talk about, so I’ll try and keep it brief and save the big detail for the major review at the end of the week.

Impressive stand design

Starting on a positive note, one of the clearest things for me on this first day is the standard of the stands for so many exhibitors. I shall save a big review of the stands for my major review of the show at the end of the week, but here is a quick sample of what is about in the halls this year

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The quality of the stands, the designs, the colour and the variety is as good as I have ever seen it at the FIT Show. I would go as far to say that this is the best year so far. Exhibitors and stand designers should take great credit from that. Coming off the back of another show just a year ago, it would have been very tempting to just use previous stands. But, it is clear that some companies have really declared a battle of the budget, not wanting to be outdone in the design stakes. If you’re coming to the show in the next couple of days, there is a genuine wow factor to them.

The new home

I’ll warn you now, this place in comparison to the previous venue in Telford is massive. You’ll earn breakfast in the halls by simply walking from the car park to the front door! The weather is good this week though so you probably won’t mind a bit of fresh air.

When you walk into the venue, the three halls are very brightly decorated in FIT Show livery. You cannot miss where our industry is housed for the next three days. Registration was easy for me this morning. Plenty of staff on hand to show you where you need to be. You’ll be handed your lanyards, guide book, free paper and a goodie bag which serves as a bag to hold all the other bags you’ll be given during the rest of the day.

The halls are massive. You might want to plan a route to make sure you get to see everything you want to see. Like I always do, I winged it and just wandered and found where things were. I’ll get the hang of it by Thursday afternoon! One thing you will notice is that you don’t have the same cosy feel in the NEC as you did at Telford. Size is everything here.

Not that things seem any less organised. Exhibitors I have spoken to have said that the logistics have been very good here, everything they have needed has been provided, and from what I can tell, bar the odd last minute hiccup, most stands were ready on time.

Products

There is nothing game changing here. Nothing that is going to shake the roots of UK fenestration. There is a much greater focus on improved quality and an expansion of existing product portfolios.

I will save specific products and companies for further reviews in the coming days and weeks, but companies like Synseal with their WarmCore were a good example of this. They have launched their WarmCore patio slider, which looks very good, alongside some proposed wood grain foils and some improvements to their Stratus roof. Products that are designed to build on the success of their system, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Considering we’re drowning in product choice at the moment, this is a wise move.

Something that did catch my eye is that there are a number of companies displaying some big sliding doors. And I mean big! AluK, Arkay and Luxal are all showing off absolutely enormous aluminium sliding patio doors on their stands. They really do catch your attention. You can see one of them in the images above. Definitely aimed at the “hollywood” homes in the UK, I can’t see these taking off in the standard residential market any time soon! Still, they’re amazing to look at and certainly drew the crowds on Tuesday.

It’s also very door heavy. Lots of companies showing lots of doors. There’s a focus on windows obviously, but doors are taking centre stage this year that is for sure.

My stand and product of the day though has to go to Greek company Alumil. The doors on their stand were simply stunning. Easily the best doors on show this year:

 

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You have to see these doors up close to be able to appreciate how stunning they are. The depth of these doors is immense, the finishing, the attention to detail and yes, the price tag, mean these doors won’t be your next bread and butter product, but if you’re an installer who deals with special high end self-builds, you’re going to want to take a look at these!

During my day I managed to see my pals at MACO to show me their latest innovations. Well worth a look if you’re coming down over the next couple of days. I saw the Prefix stand, with a whole menu of new products to get your teeth stuck into. I was given a full demo of the Excellence as Standard installer scheme by Epwin, which was genuinely impressive and I shall be doing a full review on that on DGB in the coming days. I bumped into the team at FUX Austria and had a look at some sexy silver machinery.

Some stands also stayed open until 8pm, with drinks on many. It looks like plenty stayed behind to have a drink or two and unwind at the end of a very long day. I was on the Selecta stand until about 7:40pm and it was busy until I left, so it looks like it was a success for the organisers. Perhaps something that will now be done for future shows.

Odd atmosphere

Obviously a new home for a big exhibition is going to take some getting used to. When the show was at Telford, it took over the whole arena. It gave the show an almost cosy, family feel. A close community aspect to it all. The NEC is a vastly bigger place, where the FIT Show is being run alongside a few others shows at the same time. For me, there isn’t yet that buzz, that close energy that there was at Telford. Perhaps it was just first day gears, where Wednesday, with the Gala Dinner, the buzz might step up a gear or two.

I don’t think the atmosphere was helped with the atrocity that happened in Manchester the night previously. It definitely felt a bit sombre first thing in the morning to me. People still getting over the barbarism of the night before. Personally, I was surprised at how little visible security there was here at the NEC. I understand that the organisers won’t want to alarm guests unnecessarily, but given the severity of what happened, and at the type of venue it happened at, there might have been more. There was a sniffer dog on site. With the terror threat level being raised to maximum, I would not be surprised to see a more visible security presence on Wednesday and Thursday.

There was an odd, flat feeling at the end of the day today. Probably a combination of factors to be fair. And I know that Wednesday will be the day for maximum footfall and energy. I expect all halls to be busier, stands packed and plenty more arriving for the Gala Dinner that evening.

All in all, I would say it was a steady first day. Here’s to a busy day two!

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