In early May HAI’s Annemarie Harte and Aoife Kinsella brought a group of member buyers and merchants to receive a warm “Benvenuto!” at Buyer Point in Milan.
Buyer Point, which took place at East End Studios in Milan in May this year, is an annual trade show that focuses on matching buyers with suppliers and manufacturers in the Italian market through a series of one-to-one meetings (speed networking). 2018 had a speciﬁc focus on the Irish market (represented and promoted by HAI). Here’s how the group got on over the three days.
The trip got off to a bumpy start with the last-minute cancellation of our ﬂight to Milan. Masterfully, the Buyer Point team leapt into action and managed to secure 18 seats on a full ﬂight to Nice later that morning. Our Irish convoy of HAI member buyers (single and multi-branch) and suppliers enjoyed the scenic route to Milan through the winding coastal stretch through Nice and past Monaco. We then received a warm Italian welcome on Tuesday evening at Buyer Point’s launch dinner.
Wednesday – HAI at Buyer Point
HAI proudly ﬂew Ireland’s colours at Buyer Point with a stand adorned with Irish shamrocks, balloons and lapel pins courtesy of Tourismo Irlandese (Tourism Ireland) and stocked with information about the Irish Hardware industry. Buyer Point had an impressive line-up of Italian and international manufacturers and suppliers across a range of sectors including garden, home and DIY. Exhibits included displays of safety wear, power tools, colourful garden furniture, interior furnishings and more. A sharp contrast of colour was seen from exhibit to exhibit, with home décor products next to industrial equipment.
This year’s Irish focus at Buyer Point brought interested Italian suppliers and manufacturers to the HAI stand who were looking for information about the Irish market and for opportunities to introduce their products to interested Irish buyers.
A list of the suppliers who visited the HAI stand (and who are looking for Irish merchants interested in diversifying their product range) is available on the next page.
Buyer Point brought together more than 200 international and Italian specialist buyers in Europe’s DIY-home improvement and garden industries, celebrating itself as “Europe’s biggest speed dating event”, including some of our own visitors who spent the day in scheduled meetings in search of new product ideas and inspiration for their stores. Feedback from the Irish visitors about the show was mixed, although they were very happy with the networking opportunity it brought.
Thursday – Store Visits
The ﬁnal day of our Italian visit was spent visiting some of the country’s top hardware/DIY stores.
First stop was Ottimax, which prides itself as “the ﬁrst point of reference in distribution, wholesale and retail sales of quality technical products” in the Italian market. The store, located on the outskirts of Milan, comprises two ﬂoors, with the ground ﬂoor housing all things hardware, including power tools and accessories, and other displays like lighting ﬁxtures and timber products. The second ﬂoor is home to larger scale, project-based displays, including tiles, door and window ﬁxtures, plumbing, and a small garden furniture section.
Staff were on hand to answer any queries and many staff on the ﬂoor were seen in deep discussion with customers about their requirements, and their order desk boasted “2,000 models of window doors ready for delivery”, indicating the range of choice available to customers.
Next stop was one of Milan’s Leroy Merlin stores. The store we visited, according to our tour guide Carlo, is one of Italy’s biggest at nearly 12,000sqm. Leroy Merlin’s business focuses on six main sectors: DIY, building, gardening, sanitary equipment, renewable energy, and home décor, all of which were evenly dispersed around the store. On arrival we were greeted by a very impressive lighting display, closely followed by part of their home décor section, dedicated mostly to picture frames and other furnishings.
The rest of the store comprised a decent selection of bathroom and kitchen displays, paint and other home décor products, garden furniture and accessories, and other softer home products like kitchenware and accessories.
After a generous lunch and a tour of some stunning Italian architecture we made it to our ﬁnal stop, receiving a warm Italian welcome at Hobby Market Canevisio, part of the FDT group. The store manager himself ofﬁcially welcomed the Irish convoy to the store and wished us well on our visit. It presented a smaller format than the ﬁrst two stores, but the range including hardware and power tools, paints and décor, gardening, timber, building materials, and more.
Overall the trip was enjoyed by all. The buyers enjoyed the chance to meet with European suppliers and manufacturers and get new product and store ideas. The highlight of the trip for all, however, was the networking. It was a unique opportunity for industry peers to get together in a relaxed environment, to share experiences and build new and existing relationships.
Finally, a big “Grazie Mille” to Carlo, Marco, Valentina and everyone else in the Buyer Point team for their hospitality throughout the trip.
“The show was well organised but the suppliers may not be relevant for all participants”
“Great opportunity to meet with people from the industry. And I enjoyed the one-to-one meeting with suppliers. It was a good starting point for me in trying to diversify.”
“Again I thought this was a good way of getting fellow professionals and suppliers together. The opportunities we had in sharing our thoughts and experience was excellent. The trip itself was very well organised and we were made feel very welcome by the Buyer Point staff.”
“Another example of the HAI offering us an opportunity to sourcing opportunities outside our market as well as good networking”