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17th of May 2011
Support our trade show

Following the recent Cleaning Show in Birmingham, ECJ's UK reporter asks what it tells us about the mood of the cleaning industry.

The Cleaning Show took place in Birmingham at the beginning of March. Were you there?

Over the years this biennial show, one of the biggest events in the industry has - with the support of the sector -  virtually eliminated all competition on the basis that one large national exhibition every two years is better than a plethora of small shows, regional and otherwise.

This year’s show at the NEC promised the usual but in the event delivered something rather different. Firstly, major players failed to exhibit, nor were there a great number of international visitors. Why? Do they not want new business? Do they think their position impregnable? Does their accounting direction say the expense cannot be justified? Do they have so much business already? Are they unhappy with the event itself?

The usual argument was heard from some people that the show had nothing new to offer. It did not, but times are hard for bringing new ideas to fruition.

Small firms' opportunity

What the absence of those who imagine themselves to be major players did was to provide opportunity to small and new companies - and they certainly thrived on it.

But such faults as might be perceived were not the fault of the organisers. Once upon a time when one visited the NEC there was a buzz and those employed there were keen to help the exhibitors and show off their exhibition centre. This, alas, is no more. A glowing website is on offer. This is no substitute for human contact  - particularly when such sites present an idealistic view of what is on offer.

As an example, there are few more dispiriting exercises than to arrive at the NEC by train, thus showing correct environmental intentions, to be faced with a daunting walk to Hall 20 along deserted corridors where no sign of The Cleaning Show appears until the vicinity of Hall Six. No welcome, no information, no helpful staff, lifts out of order and on one morning even the vaunted travelator itself was out of order too. Whatever this is, welcoming it ain’t.

Prepare for next time

Yet within the show company staff and organisers worked tirelessly and largely overcame the depressive lethargy so frequently reflected on television and radio by commentators who should know better.

So The Cleaning Show can dust itself off and prepare for the 2013 event. Let us hope for better co-operation from the larger companies. To be frank they are letting the industry and their customers down. In cases where they also belong to particular industry associations supporting the show, they are letting them down as well.

The organisers perhaps need to look at the format and bring forward some new ideas to give us the show of which the industry can be proud, and play a real part in. What was different about 2007 and 2011? The time to start thinking about this is now. Many of the add-ons which the show once had have disappeared. Was this due to lack of support? Who did not support them? The cleaning industry.

There are more questions than answers but these answers must surely be found.


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