Where the flooring world gathers

Domotex in Hannover is a bit like the UN of the industry – everybody wants a piece of the action

DOMOTEX is the world’s most famous flooring show and for good reason. I returned from this year’s show – my first time there – full of inspiration about what the flooring industry can achieve.

At the CFA stand, Richard Catt, ceo, was in typically bullish form, talking to prospective members and clearly savouring the enormity of the exhibition. ‘UK manufacturers should definitely visit Domotex,’ he said. ‘There’s so much potential for them here.’

An interesting aspect of the show was the fact it truly does have an international flavour. I spent some time talking to LVT manufacturers from China, trying to find out what brought them to Germany, and what the state of the LVT sector was in their country.

The results are surprising.

Olay Zan, international sales manager, Yihua which is located in Jiangsu Province, east of Shanghai, says the company has been manufacturing PVC vinyl flooring for three decades.

‘In China, wood flooring is far more popular than plastic,’ he told me. ‘But although in our homes we like wood flooring, vinyl is becoming more popular in offices because it’s cheaper.’

Wendy Shi, international sales manager, Winmai Floors, which is located in Shanghai, agreed. I asked her whether the fact wood was so popular in China provided an opportunity as well as a challenge for LVT manufacturers.

‘Although wood flooring is traditional in China, part of our heritage, vinyl has many advantages including being soundproof, waterproof and easy to maintain.’

Wendy sounds upbeat about the future. ‘The Chinese,’ she said, ‘will eventually come to prefer LVT.’

Wendy said she wasn’t sure how successful Domotex would be for the company. ‘I can’t say I’m confident,’ she said. ‘I was here last year as a visitor; I thought it was a good show from that point-of-view and after this year, I’ll know whether it was worth buying but I want to see what exhibiting is like. I like to see whether it’s worth having a stand.’

What occurred to me was that these Chinese manufacturers, unlike their counterparts in the US and China, have an expectant but essentially wait-and-see view of the future – which reflects the enormous potential China offers in terms of market growth.

I also had time to speak to some of the innovators at the IVC Group stand including David Bigland, md of Moduleo; Cindy van Moorleghem, brand manager at Moduleo; and Ortwin Top, product manager at Itec, and you can read the resulting article in March.