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Flooring Show cemented to Harrogate for 60th anniversary

by Joe Gallop

The UK’s biggest and longest-standing large-scale flooring show will celebrate its 60-year anniversary this year at Harrogate Convention Centre, with organisers Ocean Media Group confirming it will return until 2024 in the spa town.

The Flooring Show, which takes place from 18-20 September, brings more than 4,000 people to the town, with in excess of 3,000 buyers, 250 brands, 150 exhibitors and 1,000 staff.

The show began in the hotels of Harrogate before moving to the convention centre, growing into the flagship event for the UK flooring industry, which is worth an estimated £2bn.

Alex Butler, event director at The Flooring Show, says: “It’s got a long heritage in Harrogate. There was a period of time when it moved into the NEC in Birmingham for a couple of years, it was very short-lived because the exhibiting community are so wedded to Harrogate.”

“They love everything about Harrogate Convention Centre, its central location, its proximity to local amenities – they’re able to entertain clients when they finish the show. In a nutshell, they love it.”

Butler says the pandemic has bolstered the flooring sector as more people invested in their homes: “We’ve obviously been organising exhibitions at a time when exhibitions couldn’t take place worldwide because of the pandemic, but actually we operate in a market that’s really, really buoyant. People have stayed at home, not had the expenditure of going into work or going on holidays, and have been looking at their homes instead, so there’s been a peak of DIY and floors are obviously integral to that. The industry continues to be on a really strong trajectory.”

Due to international travel restrictions in 2021, last year’s show attracted fewer overseas visitors, but organisers are predicting a bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers in 2022: “Last year, our visitor numbers remained very strong with the number of UK visitors on a par with 2019, which was an amazing result. The really important buyers were all in attendance. “The brands and suppliers were ready to exhibit, and the retailers were willing and ready to attend, so it was a really busy, full show. With our 60th birthday we’re looking to be even bigger in 2022, and we’re already seeing increased interest from international suppliers and buyers.”

Butler says these traditional markets bring confidence and business back to live exhibitions: “At the beginning of the pandemic, all exhibition organisers had a worry that technology would overtake face-to-face and people would enjoy virtual events, but actually people became fatigued with constant screen time. There wasn’t that organic discovery of products – nothing can replace walking the aisles of an exhibition – you can scroll through a list but you don’t connect with the people or the product in the same way. We’re social animals at the end of the day, we can’t exist in our little bubbles. That’s why there’s this huge appetite to get back to normal, which is why we’re on track for 2022.”

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, says: “The Flooring Show is one of a handful of stalwarts that have a long and rich history in Harrogate. The loyalty of these shows says a lot about the quality of our offer, as they return year-on-year. We look forward to giving the Flooring Show delegates a warm Yorkshire welcome for their 60th celebrations.”

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