March 28/April 4, 2016; Volume 30, Number 20
By Ken Ryan
Luxury vinyl tile and WPC-type products highlighted the 18th annual Domotex asia/Chinafloor trade show in Shanghai last month, according to U.S. executives who attended the event.
Although attendance figures were not available at press time, VNU Exhibitions, the show organizer, said more than 1,300 exhibitors signed up for the event, the largest flooring trade show in Asia. As a reflection of the category’s prominence, the resilient section alone commanded three large halls.
LVT continued to generate the most interest among attendees. Within LVT, WPC-type products—engineered vinyl, wood-plastic composites, waterproof core offerings, rigid planks—were prominent in almost every LVT producer’s booth, according to John Wu, president and CEO of Novalis Innovative Flooring.
He told FCNews that despite LVT being the fastest growing flooring category globally for the last five years, “it is still a relatively unknown product to Chinese flooring dealers.” To that end, Novalis set out to educate Chinese retailers about the features and benefits of particularly its own offerings—in its quest to become the No. 1 brand in China. The company showcased its portfolio of LVT products in hopes of adding to its dealer network. The company also introduced a room visualizer capability for its AVA commercial LVT website.
“Within LVT, I had also noticed a few more woven vinyl producers showing products,” Wu noted. “However, quality varies a lot.”
Michael Martin, president and CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), noted the positive sentiment at Domotex. “The general attitude at the show was a little more upbeat than a couple of years ago, and I think we are seeing more U.S. participation than we have in the past.”
Brian Parker, director of marketing for Haines, said he would compare the traffic the first two days at Domotex Asia “to a typical first day at Surfaces,” before attendance fell off rather dramatically on the final day.
Wu also reported traffic on the first day was quite strong, with a good mix of international and domestic visitors. “On the second day, we noticed domestic traffic had slowed down while there were still quite a few European and American visitors. The last day was pretty quiet, likely due to most international visitors returning home that day for Easter holidays.”
In an effort to expand its global exposure, USFloors exhibited at the Domotex Asia for the first time. Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, said before the show that this year’s presence was intended to deliver a clear message that the company plans to expand its operations worldwide and establish partnerships with reputable local players in every region. Dossche, along with Sam Ruble, vice president of sales, and other members of the USFloors’ team spent a total of 12 days in China. Ruble said the show met the company’s expectations.
Also for the first time, Domotex asia/Chinafloor hosted a delegation of U.S. distributors and associations. Delegates met with peers from China and other parts of Asia, previewed new products and technologies, toured manufacturing sites and learned about conducting business with Asian partners.
Parker, who was part of that contingent, said he spent most of his time looking for new products and designs that are trending internationally. “There was certainly a lot of LVT/WPC at the show as well as wider-width products. Being that this was my first time in China it was an eye-opening experience both from an informative and educational standpoint globally.”
Martin said many of the trends that begin in Europe or the U.S. find their way to Shanghai. “Every year at this show we see wider widths and longer lengths. There is still a lot of gray but more neutral colors are gaining traction.” He said he noticed more European exhibitors than in the past, probably in an effort to increase their national presence as “the market [there] has been soft.”
He also visited Shanghai on behalf of the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), which runs a worldwide program to promote the full range of American hardwoods in over 50 export markets. This meeting was specifically targeted to China. “They saw an opportunity with imports from us for their emerging middle class in China. We also met with a [trade] organization on the need for quality control throughout the world.”