Annemarie Harte led a 20-strong delegation of HAI members to Poland to see what BUDMA had to offer the Irish market, and to help foster a spirit of networking and community among those in attendance.
The Poznan International Fair, BUDMA, took place between 30th January and 2nd February in Poznan, south-west Poland. This was the first time an invitation had been extended by the organisers to HAI members to attend the show as part of their Hosted Buyers Programme.
The Programme means that – through an association such as HAI – a group of members can be co-ordinated to attend the show on an all-expenses-paid basis. This also provides an opportunity for the group to network and build relationships within the HAI community.
The group of 20 set off from Dublin airport on the morning of 29th January – via Frankfurt as opposed to the direct fight to Poznan – and arrived in Poznan with taxi transfer to the hotel by 4pm local time. Following a quick break, the group reconvened in the hotel to walk to a recommended local restaurant for the first official celebration of HAI’s 80th anniversary.
Around one large table was the hum of Irish accents swapping stories, sharing experiences, talking about the state of business and what they wanted to get out of the following day’s trip to the show. It was this added benefit to an otherwise business trip that gave a special twist – the value of meeting colleagues; retailers, merchants, and suppliers – many of whom hadn’t met each other before – enjoying each other’s company over their shared livelihood. This kind of connection is often only created in small distinct groups and over an intense period spent together, and it’s at events like these that HAI aims to foster these relationships.
BUDMA offered over 600 exhibitors ranging from windows and doors to floors and bathroom ceramics to steel. The bonus was the chance to organise one-to-one meetings in advance. Despite the early organisation of travel and accommodation, together with the notification – closer to the time – that the process of booking the meetings was available, none of the exhibitors had a description available in English. This obviously would inhibit the efficiency of the time spent at the Show. To compound this, on the morning of the Show, the hand-held devices to capture exhibitors’ data weren’t working, so it was necessary to provide visitors with a list of exhibitors and to get signatures from the ones that were visited.
That said, the Show was impressive, spanning several halls which reminded me of the set-up in the NEC in Birmingham to those who are familiar with it. I joined several buyers, from single branch to multi-branch, and buying groups on the trip to get a feel for the life of a buyer, and the time spent gave me a useful insight into the skills, knowledge and experience required in this area.
Whilst BUDMA was a very large show and cost HAI members very little to attend, feedback was as follows in terms of time well spent:
Useful tips if you’re a Buyer:
- Buyers’ Mantra: ‘The day you buy is the day that you sell’
- Preparation: Know what you’re looking for – Know your products that sell well. Analyse your sales trends before you go. You’re looking to add value to your business when searching for products.
- Plan: Research the floor plan before you go. Know the areas you’re going to concentrate on in advance to avoid wasting time and energy on the day.
- Know your specification – this is only the start of the process but asking the right questions now can save you a lot of time and effort. Has the product got the right certification and does it conform to EU standards? What’s its composition? Do the manufacturers export to Ireland or the UK?
- Are the exhibitors interested in you? If they don’t speak English and haven’t provided any literature in English, then chances are they’re not going to be that interested in selling to you. Those first few exchanges are crucial. Don’t waste your time.
- Be open-minded: Keep an eye out for new innovative products that aren’t available in the Irish market. Find out where they’ve been successful e.g. the USA. They just might be the next big seller here!
- Problem solving products – there may be one, or a combination of products that provide a solution to problems your customers have.
“It wasn’t geared up for export to Ireland, is was more of an internal Polish show.”
“As an Irish-organised trade trip, it gave us all an opportunity to chat with each other in a relaxed atmosphere. To understand each other’s business is something we don’t get an opportunity to do often.”
“The exhibition organisers should concentrate on making it more relevant to our market if they want to maximise the potential for all attending.”
“It was a very enjoyable trip. It was easy and good to talk to other people.”