DOMOTEX held in Hannover, Germany, between 12th and 15th January claims to be the world's leading trade fair for floor coverings. It was host to 1,615 exhibitors this year, an all-time record, with the largest exhibitor nations other than Germany being Turkey, India, Belgium, China, Netherlands, Iran, Italy, Egypt and the USA.
There were 45,000 visitors to the show, another record and up from around 40,000 last year.
Nearly 30,000 visitors came from outside Germany, of which around 60% were from other European countries, 25% from Asia and 11% from the Americas. This year there was a significant increase in attendance from the United States and South and Central America.
The majority of DOMOTEX visitors were buyers from specialist retailers and wholesalers as well as architects and interior designers and workers from the skilled trades.
A significant increase in attendance was particularly evident among home furnishing and furniture stores, architects, interior designers, contract floorers and skilled tradesmen.
The trade background to DOMOTEX 2018 is shown in Chart 1. This highlights that the recent trends towards a narrowing in the EU trade deficit in wood flooring and a rise in internal EU trade levelled off in 2017. Both these trends were indicative of a rise in the relative competitiveness of domestic European flooring manufacturers compared to external suppliers and were partly driven by the relative weakness of European currencies.
Recent strengthening of European currencies against the US dollar has helped boost the competitiveness of external suppliers of flooring to the EU market, but so far this has only slowed their decline in share and not led to any significant improvement in sales.
EU imports from China, by far the largest external supplier accounting for around 60% of total imports, were 16.0 million sq.m in the 12 months to end November 2016, compared to 16.2 million sq.m a year earlier and over 21 million sq.m in 2012.