Jon Johnston

Jon Johnston is UBM's key account manager for KBB, the largest KBB trade show in the UK, taking place on the 4th-7th March 2018 at the NEC Birmingham 

KBB Birmingham Q&A: Jon Johnston, KBB key account director, UBM

Posted 27th Feb 2018

KBB Birmingham, one of the biggest events on the calendar for the KBB industry, is just around the corner, taking place on the 4th-7th March at the NEC Birmingham. What can we expect from this year’s show?
The 2018 show is set to raise the bar yet again – our Future theme is returning after the success of last year’s show, but with four forecast trends to accompany it, meaning that we’re going to see some very impressive manifestations of different interpretations of this.

In addition, we’re welcoming back the Retail & Design Conference, supporting the growth of businesses in such a fast-paced industry, as well as The Innovation Awards, which promotes innovation in all of its forms.

You can also expect to see big features at the show, as award-winning kitchen designer Colin Wong will unveil his revolutionary new “Rock” concept, which will be fabricated by leading material suppliers Corian, Cosentino, Neolith and Formica.

How many exhibitors can we expect to see at this year’s show?
We’re welcoming over 400 industry leading brands from around the world and here in the UK this March, including Samsung, Dansani, Smeg, Franke, Carron Phoenix, Kuppersbusch, Caesarstone, Novy and Cambria.

Tell us more about the four ‘themes’ of KBB Birmingham 2018: society, smart technology, disruption as opportunity and materiality
This year’s theme is really an evolution of last year’s #futurekbb series. We have partnered with industry leaders AMA Research to forecast the future trends and challenges faced by our industry, and we aim to manifest our four points across the features and conversations at the show. The four points include:

  • Society – we’re forecasting for evolving customer behaviours and how this alters the meaning of lifestyle design.
  • Smart Technology – ‘smart’ creates new possibilities for those on either side of the debate.
  • Disruption as Opportunity – ‘disruptors’ change the construction landscape, paving the way for new design opportunities.
  • Materiality – We’ve found that UK consumers continue to become more knowledgeable and therefore demand higher quality products and materials.

What goes into the preparation for a show of this size?
Being the largest and most established kbb event in the UK, the show takes a great deal of planning and preparation in order to be a success. KBB is very different in the respect that due to the nature of products, the stands are much larger and our operations team therefore have a much bigger challenge to set up.

Ensuring the floorplan is 100% accurate and making sure every stand is exactly how the exhibitors envisioned them is another challenge faced by our team, but being part of such a close-knit team holds the benefit of being able to come together and produce a truly remarkable experience for all attendees.

Tell us more about the Innovation Awards in partnership with Blum UK
The Innovation Awards have returned in 2018 due to popular demand, in partnership with Blum. This year we’ve seen a record number of entries, as well as a huge variation in the type of products that have entered. The aim of the awards is to recognise and celebrate brands who are producing innovative products, methods and ideas in alignment with our theme – we’ll be announcing the winners at the end of the first day, so keep an eye out for this year’s Innovation Trail.

What feedback did you receive from 2016’s show from both exhibitors and visitors?
By all means, kbb 2016 was our best yet. The feedback we received from our exhibitors was incredible, and we were very proud to hear that our visitors were able to effectively do business with other industry leaders and share their thoughts on where the industry currently stands. Many of our exhibitors were insistent on 2016’s event being even better than the years previous. Obviously we’re always looking to improve, so we want the next event to succeed this.

How were visitor numbers in 2016, and what are your expectations for this year’s show?
2016’s show reached visitor numbers of almost 16,000, up an impressive 14% from the previous show. So far this year we’re already on a good path to beat 2016’s record stats, and we will be welcoming the return of many great British brands, as well as exciting new international exhibitors.

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