FIT for purpose

Project Scotland’s Fraser Rummens speaks to Matthew Glover, chairman of the FIT show, which will welcome thousands of visitors to Birmingham in May to see the latest products and innovations in doors and windows

THE doors and widows industry is set to converge on the Birmingham NEC shortly for the FIT Show 2017. The event takes place on 23-25 May and will see a host of companies spanning the sector coming together to exhibit the latest innovations for fabricators and installers, with over 10,000 visitors expected across three days.

“The FIT Show is a tradeshow for anything to do with windows, doors, conservatories, glazed extensions, fenestration, commercial glazing, glass and glazing products more generally,” explained show chairman, Matthew Glover.

The FIT Show, which stands for Fabricator Installer and Trade, came about in the years following the cessation of the long-running Glassex trade show. Matthew, who used to run his own window manufacturing business, explained, “When the recession came (Glassex) disappeared along with a lot of other exhibitions at the time, so for about two or three years there was no show for the industry so myself and a colleague who used to work on the PR side for the show came up with the concept to bring back the industry show.”

The first FIT Show was held in 2013 at the Telford International Centre, with subsequent events in 2014 and 2016 at the same venue. This year the show is moving to the Birmingham NEC and will be held biennially going forward.

“We’re very excited about the prospect of being at the NEC. For a lot of the industry it’s like we’re coming home really because Glassex used to be at the NEC for all those years, as well,” Matthew said. “Our message is ‘think big’ so it’s about growth. The industry, certainly on the niche products or the new technologies, is growing, so a lot of our exhibitors wanted bigger stands. Unfortunately we couldn’t manage that at Telford, we were fixed within the confines of the existing building, so by going to the NEC we’re growing from 11,600 sq. m to over 20,000 sq. m.”

Speaking on the range of exhibitors lined up for the show, Matthew highlighted PVC extruder firms including REHAU, Synseal and Eurocell, along with manufacturers such as MASCO UK Fabrication and Dekko Window Systems and the Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB), which is putting on its own pavilion, and aluminium systems companies including Reynaers, AluK and Origin.

“I would say that aluminium is the key thing in terms of exhibitors that has changed,” Matthew said.

“At Telford we had a lot of aluminium bi-folding doors on stands but you’re tending to get a lot more of the bigger PVC fabricators now also making aluminium so there’s a lot more crossover between the two, so we’re now getting some of the systems companies like AluK (and) Reynaers that are coming to the show as systems companies and showing curtain walling, light commercial aluminium systems and also their residential windows, residential doors, which we didn’t have so much of at Telford, so it will become very much more aluminium and PVC running synchronised at the show rather than it being more of a PVC show.”

Matthew also said that glazed extensions and conservatories would have a large presence at the show, with companies including Ultraframe and Atlas in attendance.

“It’s evolving,” Matthew said. “The term ‘conservatory’ is becoming a bit more old fashioned; it’s more like glazed extensions, orangeries, atriums, that type of thing – so there’s going to be a lot of that at the show, on many of the different stands.”

Matthew explained that many exhibitors now use the show as a platform to debut new innovations, which he said is “great to see”.

“Most of the exhibitors have got something new to show… that’s one thing that really has happened since we launched the FIT Show; a lot of the product development now is geared towards launching at the FIT Show, rather than at any other time.”

Matthew added, “When we first launched the show we were a bit concerned that everything was going towards digital…people were putting money into email marketing, social media and what have you; but it’s very clear that face-to-face business, communicating face-to-face, meeting people, meeting suppliers and networking is still really important within our industry.”