CFJ has launched a major new online expo for the flooring sector, and exhibitors are signing up to take part in what is a ground-breaking initiative
TAKING place virtually on Thursday 1 July 2021, CFJLIVE will bring together more than 100 global exhibitors, with visitors attending via a free Hopkin link. An industry-first, the exhibition is billed as a ‘must-attend’ event for flooring contractors, retailers and specifiers, as well as distributors, facility managers, housing associations and designers. Attendees can register now via a dedicated website at www.cfjliveexpo.co.uk.
CFJLIVE will be broadcast live from a main stage - at FITA’s training centre in Loughborough - and from exhibitors’ showrooms, offices and factories from around the world. At the main stage, a professional presenter will take visitors into live demonstration bays and expert panels will engage in a Q&A flooring contractor forum, a sustainability debate, competitions and product launches.
Other highlights will include the ‘fastest floorlayer’ competitions and live factory tours from exhibitors’ global production plants. Crucially, visitors will be able to ask questions and discuss issues with industry experts, face-to-face.
On entering, visitors will see the main stage and list of session rooms, enabling them to move around the event without leaving the office. In exhibitor session rooms, mini-events will be hosted, including live seminars from technical experts, demonstrations and factory tours, with audio, video feeds and text feeds.
‘Since we went as an independent company with Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) and formed Kick-Start Publishing back in 1999 we’ve always strived to be at the forefront of new thinking,’ says John Heath, chief executive of Kick-Start Publishing.
‘The years have seen the company develop not only the printed magazine but a variety of publications, websites and digital content with the Contract Flooring Association (CFA) where our aim has always been to benefit contractors, retailers and distributors in the industry to create a smooth pathway of information flow from manufacturers to the trade.
‘It’s not difficult to recognise that the flooring trade is a people’s industry based on relationships. Although companies compete to excel in product development through functionality and design, this is only part of the story in business. It’s the relationships and what is behind the company in terms of delivery, technical back up and customer service that make companies stand out.’
According to Stuart Bourne, managing director of Kick-Start Publishing, the idea of a new concept was born back in March. ‘This was accelerated as an idea by the pandemic but not solely formulated because of it,’ he explains.
‘We all know we lead busy lives not least of all in the work environment and many don’t have the time to spare by travelling long distances to shows and events during the year. With most contractors and retailers purchasing product through the amazing network of wholesalers across the UK and Eire there are often many instances where it’s impossible for manufacturers to talk to their ultimate sales force of contractors and retailers who of course sell to the end user/specifier.
‘We’ve all seen virtual exhibitions where visitors are taken down a graphical aisle, turning left or right with their mouse to click on the question mark to view a PDF with little to no interaction or interface with the companies exhibiting. At Kick-Start we all sat down (from our own homes with our office shut) and started to grow an idea of an online exhibition with face-to-face communication.’
It had to be a highly sustainable and eco-friendly event where no one had to travel, pay for hotels or set up expensive stands.
Continues John Heath: ‘An online event will never replace a traditional exhibition. You cannot shake hands across a computer screen or touch the products to feel the texture but what we can all do is meet online as an industry, for manufacturers to open their doors and show their incredible showrooms, present from stands in their offices, run demonstrations to contractors, host Q&A sessions for all those questions you always wanted to ask, give access to their design teams and technical departments, take the industry on factory tours, patch in head offices from abroad and much more.’
In fact, CFJ was already working on the concept of online workshops for contractors to come along to and ask questions. These are currently running on a monthly basis with presentations specific to each product category followed by a Q&A session, direct with the manufacturers. This was how the idea of a main event, the first-ever UK commercial flooring show online, was born. Using a site we’ve used for the awards called Hopin, we’ll create our online flooring expo.
Kick-Start Publishing will work closely with the CFA and FITA to develop a program of commercial flooring demonstrations broadcast live from FITA training centre in Loughborough on the main stage.
Said Hamish MacGregor, CFA president: ‘At the CFA we think this is a great initiative from Contract Flooring Journal. We live in an era of technology and we need to grasp it – both the challenges and the opportunities. In some cases, that means changing ourselves and the way we work. This has been understood by many sectors of our industry - the tier 1 contractors principally I would say, but we need to bring all sectors along and I think this will help. This event is an example of the change that is required and here at the CFA we will play our part to make sure it is a success.’
Richard Catt, CFA ceo, added: ‘If there is one thing coronavirus has taught us, it is the value of online activity. If you had told me twelve months ago how well the CFA, members and wider industry would adapt to things like online meetings, I wouldn’t have believed you. And so the opportunity to create an online, commercial flooring event, now seems almost obvious and I’m delighted Kickstart have launched CFJ Live and invited CFA and FITA to feature so prominently.
‘But does it offer those who participate as exhibitors or visitors anything different to what they can obtain through other channels? The internet, manufacturers’ websites, YouTube, social media are already quite well established ways of engaging with commercial flooring companies and so the answer is of course all about the content.
‘First of all, we don’t have a dedicated commercial flooring exhibition in the UK and I have seen that as a hole in the market for many years. If you have been fortunate enough to attend Domotex in Germany in the past (and I would still recommend attending ‘in person’ events as well, as soon as we can do so) then you will no doubt have found it as inspiring as I have. New ideas, products launched, a different perspective in areas such as sustainability, technical innovation, tools and equipment, and much more.
‘CFJLive pushes firmly on those doors and also allows manufacturers to give you a glimpse of things like showrooms and manufacturing facilities that highlight their products, but would normally necessitate taking days away from your business or family and perhaps an unnecessary flight or two. Not with an online event! Hop in and hop out as you wish, to attend seminars, see practical demos from FITA and a few surprises in areas such as design and what you might term flooring art.
‘Put the date firmly in your diary, but choose what you know will add value to your business and invite colleagues to do the same. I think we will end up with a blend of in person and online events in the future. And I think CFJ Live will become one of those that people look forward to as the event for the commercial flooring sector and our industry – one that’s just a little bit different and not to be missed.
‘If you don’t attend, you might never know what the rest of the industry is talking about!”
Meanwhile, on the training front, Shaun Wadsworth, FITA training manager said: ‘We’re delighted FITA and its training centre are working with CFJ to present the main stage of CFJ Live. When the training centre was refurbished in 2019 our focus was to ensure the training centre reflected the quality of the courses delivered. What it has also led to is our ability to take advantage of opportunities like CFJ Live and to host events for the flooring sector. FITA instructors will be demonstrating best practice installation techniques using a wide range of manufacturers’ products, with a key focus on commercial installation. We can’t wait for the event!’
Also broadcast from the main stage in the afternoon we’ll host a virtual sustainability summit with a panel of experts debating sustainability in the flooring industry and available for questions.
‘We are building a formidable panel of personalities who specialise in sustainability in the flooring industry,’ says David Strydom, editor of CFJ.
‘Sustainability may have been put on the backburner by some as Covid-19 became our common and urgent enemy, but green issues will return with a vengeance, and we need to be ready to face these new challenges when they arrive. Our panel will address all aspects of sustainability, and a more comprehensive agenda will become clearer in the weeks ahead.’
You can request further information at the click of a button with no forms filling in or you can request a one to one meeting on the site to talk direct to the companies exhibiting. Further detail of how it all works can be found on the following pages.
This is going to be a unique event hosted each year so please do register free at www.cfjliveexpo.co.uk. Then click on register to attend. You’ll need to register with Hopin which is free of charge and takes less than a minute and then join the event. We look forward to seeing you there.
To find out more, please contact Stuart Bourne at CFJ at email@example.com.