Spanish dynamism infects Europe

These are pretty busy times for trade fairs in Europe. The rapid succession made our European colleague, Thierry Coeman choose between the considerable offerings in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain. For The Hardware Journal, he opted for a report on the Spanish trade fair Eurobrico, in Valencia Home – Eurobrico (

Unrivalled figures to dream away for a while Aecoc, the renowned Association for retail and industry (Madrid), recently published the results for the DIY & Home Improvement sector for the period of the first six months of 2022. This sectoral barometer includes a sample of over 1,200 shops. During the first half of 2022, sales increased by 8.6% compared to the previous year which had already been a resounding success for the whole of Europe.

Further analysis showed that the large retail chains (including Leroy-Merlin, Bricor, Brico Depôt, Bauhaus) recorded a growth of 9.4%. Spain overall has more than 10,000 small DIY retail shops, popularly called Ferreterias, as well as 1,200 small speciality stores, which also managed to achieve a growth of 4.2%.

More so, especially during the second quarter 2022, there was a particularly strong performance in larger stores (10.8%) versus the smaller independent retail segment (5.9%).

These figures were explained as follows at a Trade Show presentation by renowned expert in the field, Antonio Hostalet.

Government stimulus dynamises overall market

Three substantial factors have had a decisive impact during the past six months on the overall market figures in all segments, including DIY, Home Improvement, Construction and Trade; all three driven by the support policies decided by the new appointed government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez:

  • The revitalisation of the construction sector
  • The revival of the second residence
  • The large-scale recovery policy in tourism

Figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) clearly show that such government decisions are more than justified and timely. With an increase of 3.5%, Spain’s construction sector is flourishing, as it did two decades ago. And this in both the residential and non-residential markets; while sectoral turnover for the construction sector in Europe generally has to content itself with a modest 1.5% growth.

The Spanish residential market has experienced an unprecedented boost since the pandemic, thanks in part to the leverage effect in private ownership: more than 70% of Spaniards own their homes (house or flat) and almost 25% of these owners also have a second residence, mostly on the coast, of course. And just for that second residence, Spaniards have been exceptionally generous in redecorating and embellishing it. A boon for the building materials sector as well as DIY and Home Improvement.

In addition, the Pedro Sanchez government also decided to provide substantial efforts and support for the hotel industry, again stimulating DIY and professional market segments.

The eurozone’s fourth-largest economy relies heavily on tourism, which in good years represented more than 10 per cent of gross domestic product. Today, that figure has almost halved. And so such injections make these more than welcome.

Last but not least, Spain is still managing quite well to avoid the downward spiral of an inflationary economy, and not only thanks to the government. “What immediately stands out in the Spanish DIY & Home Improvement sector is the positive mindset to capitalise on the overall momentum that the pandemic has brought to the sector,” underlines Antonio Hostalet. “Spain can be quite proud of its unique DNA in both building materials (tiles and ceramics) and hardware; both coupled with high service levels, innovation policies and quality.

Quite a few European retail organisations can benefit from these dynamics in an era where everyone wants to review their sourcing policy. Spain can definitely become ‘the preferred partner’ for sourcing in Europe”, underpins Antonio.

Eurobrico, more than just a trade fair

To what extent could such figures and market support translate
into inspiring dynamics at the national trade fair?

Like most European trade fairs, Eurobrico faced the great challenge of fulfilling its role of connecting all actors in the market. “We did not hesitate to put three clear accents in the offer,” explains Alejandro Roda, general manager Eurobrico:

  • Position the national trade fair as an educational knowledge and meeting centre.
  • Make a visionary contribution about the role of the DIY store in a growth market with ever-increasing potential.
  • Send a strong signal to generate even more synergies in trade, whilst putting the focus on creating renewed partnerships between manufacturers, independents and buying associations such as HT Brico, Ferbric, BricoCentro, El Sabia, and Coferdroza.

“With those three messages in mind, we managed to convince some two hundered exhibitors to make it a successful exhibition,” Alejandro adds. Quite a promising result after four years of patience.

Ferreteria 4.0, the shop of the future

The challenge was thus successfully met with a wide range of workshops for both children and fair visitors. Central in the main pavilion was a ‘Black Box’ set up with the live performance of the shop of the future as the big eye-catcher. Under the name Ferreteria 4.0, Antonio Valls, initiator and general manager of System Shop, demonstrated a high-profile total concept store (250 m²) with five essential pillars: digitalisation, innovation, omnichannel, technology and sustainability.

People and Leadership At the Eurobrico Forum, a meeting platform where lectures were scheduled, speakers perfectly summarised the listed dynamics. Antonio Hostalet led the way with a comprehensive analysis of the sector over the centuries. With thought-provoking images on the construction of pyramids to the provision of robots on the shop floor; the Spanish expert came to one clear conclusion: “the future for our sector is still promising if we continue to invest effectively in the resources at our disposal.

However, the key to success remains people and they are worth more than any other investment. Therefore, we must keep the focus on customer centricity and service for which we must continue to invest in recruitment and training to ensure and embed service levels and expertise as a differentiator. Just like two centuries ago, our DIY stores of today and tomorrow are in dire need of exemplary management. The better leaders are inspirers who are always looking to reinvent their DNA. A truth that applies anywhere in Europe, in Ferreterias, big boxes and convenience stores where people still daily return with pleasure for advice and solutions. Make sure you get infected by these values and truths!

Antonio Hostalet

Antonio Hostalet has more than 25 years experience in commercial management and Marketing in different sectors at an international level. He has worked in sectors such as Banking, IT, Ceramics, and Plastics in more than 100 countries. He has long experience in modern distribution channels, high performance sales teams and Marketing.