Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014
By Ken Ryan
The 16th Domotex asia/ChinaFloor was all about new products and innovations, similar to any large-scale trade show. But for Thomas Baert, president of Chinafloors/Lamett, this year’s event also succeeded in at least partially shedding China’s image as a low-cost manufacturer.
“Many people still have an antiquated view of China as a producer of cheap product,” Baert said. “The reality is China has become a leader in specialty and innovative products and product development. It is also a reality that we now see manufacturers in other leading countries copying the product ideas and product initiatives coming out of China.”
That would include luxury vinyl tile, which drew the most interest at Domotex asia/ChinaFloor (DACF). The industry’s fastest growing product is also a Chinese original, according to Baert. “The West is quickly forgetting that LVT is actually a Chinese invention that is now being copied in the West, with many factories being built in North America and Europe. Along these LVT lines, China is heavily experimenting with hybrid floors. It is to be expected that, in general, HDF-based flooring will be a hit in the future. This is where the buzz is in China, in this type of innovation. Everywhere you walked, you saw new ideas, creative use of materials and the latest innovations. The future of HDF-based flooring is yet uncertain but during Domotex asia several alternatives were presented. I expect the noise to come from this area in the future.”
Michael Martin, president and CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), attended the show along with exhibitors housed in the NWFA/American Hardwood Export Council Pavilion. “The show had really good energy this year and it seemed as though a lot of business was being conducted,” Martin said. “Many members went home with more orders than last year.”
During the three-day event, members of the NWFA board of directors met with executives from the Chinese National Forest Products Industry Association and the Dalian Wood Products Industry Association to begin talks regarding global manufacturing and installation standards, as well as the sharing of education and best practices. “With the growth of demand from Chinese manufacturers for U.S. lumber—a large percentage coming back to the U.S. as a finished product—it’s imperative that we work to do things the same way,” Martin explained. “The world of wood flooring has definitely gotten smaller as this reciprocity has grown.”
Per Josefsson, Välinge’s business unit director and regional manager for China, said there was a marked difference in the 2014 show. “The exhibitors are becoming more homogeneous compared to early years where you had some very small and simple booths and some really large booths. Now most exhibitors have good quality at their booths, regardless of size, and it creates a professional atmosphere. It is also quite obvious that several of the large producers of resilient flooring, such as LVT—where many use mechanical locking systems—have increased their export focus and attend the show with large, nice booths.”
Välinge showcased its array of 2G and 5G locking technologies, as well as surface technologies such as ACTiO2 for improved indoor environment, and Nadura flooring based on Välinge’s Wood Powder Technology. The company also exhibited its 3D-core technology for LVT that features what Josefsson called a “splitting technology” for cost-efficient separation of boards into panels or tiles.
Josefsson said the growth of LVT has garnered increased interest with 5G. “The natural focus at the show was on mechanical locking systems in general for various categories such as LVT, laminate and wood flooring, but in particular the 5G fold-down systems were a major focus.”
But 5G was not the only locking system that received attention at the show. China-based Inotec International created a buzz with a locking product called Vertical. This unique system is said to be the only known technology that enables a person to install it by simply laying a board and waking on it, locking it both horizontally and vertically together. Damaged boards can be replaced anywhere in the floor without any cutting or sawing required.
A number of the new products and innovations at DACF were housed in the innovaction pavilion. Beaulieu International earned a first prize in the InnovAction awards competition for its Hydro Plus laminate, a new flooring series that features a special water-resistant coating technology. The floor is suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.
By the numbers
Domotex asia/ChinaFloor drew a record 42,386 visitors, making it one of the largest flooring shows in the world, which included 1,177 exhibitors and nine country pavilions (United States, Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, India, Iran, Netherlands, Pakistan and Turkey). Elena Geremia, international marketing and sales manager for Domotex asia/
ChinaFloor, said 80% of the attendees were from China, which she said is becoming more of a “consuming market.”
Geremia noted that 58.3% of the exhibitors at the 2014 show have already rebooked for 2015; 2013 saw a 35.6% rebook percentage.
“This is a gathering of professional flooring experts from around the world, and no one should miss it if they have the opportunity to attend,” Baert said. “If you really want to do your homework, you need to be in Domotex Hannover, you need to be in Vegas for Surfaces and you need to visit Domotex China.”