“Having the Feria Valencia staff to rely on in all areas – sales, administration, technical, communications etc. – is a real incentive to work to make Hábitat Spain’s and Portugal’s foremost event for the industry’s leading operators.”
Daniel Marco, director of the “Hábitat Valencia” tradeshow, in an interview with MN - Mobiliário em Notícia, talks about himself, about the novelties for this edition of September 2019, and how the fair has recovered its success of past years.
Daniel, you are the director of the Fair Habitat Valencia. Tell us in a succinct way your journey here.
I have a BA in Economics from the University of Valencia and began my career at the Valencia Institute for Economic Research (IVIE). In 2000 I joined Feria Valencia, where I was deputy director and director of a number of different fairs for seven years.
In 2007 I transferred to the Public Sector. I stayed there until 2015 and I held positions including general manager for Internationalisation at the Ministry for the Economy and the department for Trade and Tourism.
Since leaving there I have been combining my work at Feria Valencia with teaching, as an associate lecturer in micro-economics at the Economic Analysis department at the University of Valencia.
What is it like being the director of one of the most important fairs in Spain?
This will be my third time heading up Feria Hábitat Valencia and I have to say that the most important thing for me is my team. Having the Feria Valencia staff to rely on in all areas – sales, administration, technical, communications etc. – is a real incentive to work to make Hábitat Spain’s and Portugal’s foremost event for the industry’s leading operators.
What are the big challenges for this 2019 Habitat Fair?
We are very optimistic. Where we are today, we can say that Hábitat 2019 will be the biggest of recent years as we are adding two halls and exhibits will thus be spread across a total of 60,000 square metres. What this means, of course, is that there will be more products and innovations for our visitors to see.
What is the profile of Habitat Valencia?
Ours is a strictly, 100% trade fair that targets the broad spectrum of people and businesses involved in the interiors industry. So, if you look at our visitor profile, the largest group is retailers – both traditional furniture shops and multiples and buying groups. Of these, the top operators in the industry in Spain come to Hábitat, such as the Merkamueble franchise, which has chosen to hold its annual conference at the show.
We have also seen that the number of specifiers and professionals from the fields of design, interiors, décor and interior architecture who visit is increasing every year. They all come with a view to extending their supplier base and they also gain inspiration for their projects from the huge offering on show at Hábitat. I should point out that more than 25% of the professionals who visit are contract sector specifiers.
A whole range of other types of professionals connected to the interiors industry come to the fair too, such as sales agents, representatives of hotel chains and construction companies, the trade media and students of design, who take part in the young designers show, the Salón nude.
Is this fair a sign that the furniture industry has been constantly growing?
The figures are proof of that. Sales of domestic furniture rose 5% in 2018 to 1,540 million euros according to data supplied by the DBK Sectoral Observatory at Informa. More specifically, the industry’s improved performance has been driven by the upward trend in household spending on consumer durables, together with the significant increase in the number of homes that have been bought and sold.
On the other hand, exports are also on an upward trend, with sales having reached 529 million euros by the close of the last exercise – 8.6% up on the previous year. France, the United States and Portugal accounted for 42% of total exports. The value of imports, for their part, rose 3.6% to 717 million euros. The European Union accounted for 47.8% of the total, ahead of China, making the EU the main supplier to Spain whilst Italy, Poland, Portugal and France are the main EU suppliers.
In general terms, all the indicators are looking good for the next few years, with sales in the Spanish market expected to rise further, albeit at a slightly slower rate, with annual increases of around 3 to 4% over 2019-2020.
This fair has been gradually getting to know the success of many years. What is being done to return to being a great reference in Spain?
As you will know, trade fairs are a pretty accurate reflection of the industry they represent and the times in which they take place. What this means is that Hábitat suffered from the aftershock of the crisis in the construction and associated industries in Spain such as furnishings (furniture, lighting, décor etc.). This is why we decided that for the 2014, 2015
and 2016 editions of the fair, Hábitat Valencia would focus on a more specialist segment of the industry, international projects, and that it would take place in February alongside Cevisama.
Having said that, the market was already showing signs of recovery in 2017, so we decided to return Hábitat to its traditional dates in September and that it should return to being a stand-alone event. The initiative proved to be a success because with the first edition alone we tripled both the offering and the amount of space occupied.
Last year the fair was a consolidation edition. And this year?
Last year we wanted to set the offering at about 400 exhibitors and 45,000 square metres of exhibition space, spread across four halls on Level 2 at Feria Valencia. We understood, though, that for 2019 we needed to take a qualitative and a quantitative leap forward – something the market was wanting us to do anyway – so we have doubled the number of cutting edge and designer-led companies exhibiting and increased the contemporary furniture offering by 35%.
What this all means is that we will be opening two new halls and Hábitat will be housed on two levels, with all contemporary and haute décor exhibitors on Level 2 and all the designer-led offering on Level 3 along with themed exhibitions, the Ágora nude and the Salón nude exhibits. The fair will be in 6 halls altogether, with more than 65,000 square metres gross of exhibition space.
What novelties will bring the 2019 edition?
We are currently working on all the new content but I can tell you that one of the main attractions will be the retrospective exhibition of the work of the famous designer and architect Ramón Esteve. The exhibits will comprise a review of the most iconic designs he created for major Spanish and international clients.
We will also be promoting the European marketplace. As part of this, France is to be our guest country and we will be inviting the leading French buying groups to visit. Also, the central European market will be a substantial presence in hall 4 on Level 2, as will European and Spanish companies with a significant interest in selling their products in markets such as France, Holland, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.
Are expectations high? Are we really talking about the biggest Valencia Habitat in the past years?
That will depend on the fair’s performance but, where we are now, our expectation is fairly optimistic. We will of course be putting together the best offering of recent years and we even have waiting lists for some of the halls.
We are sure that not just Spanish visitors but European and, of course, Portuguese visitors will respond and come to the fair to see what the market has to offer that is new.
Which countries have the greatest presence in the fair?
Spain is indisputably the main country on the supply side, but the Portuguese presence has been growing notably year on year. There were 45 Portuguese companies and brands at the last Hábitat and forecasts for this year indicate that number will be 15% greater. We estimate as a result that we will have around 60 Portuguese companies and brands of all styles this year, ranging from haute décor and contemporary to designer and cutting edge.
We are working to ensure that Hábitat establishes itself as the best export platform for Portuguese furniture, not just to the Spanish market but to the 50-plus markets around the world that will be coming together in Valencia in September.
Portuguese furniture has evolved from being based on tradition and ‘know-how’ to boasting design of the highest level, whilst still being mindful of its own personality. Portuguese manufacturers combine design, functionality and aesthetics and the sector is now very competitive in the international market. Their best showcase is here at Feria Hábitat Valencia.
Portugal has also emancipated itself in this sector. What do you think about this market?
Portugal is a key market for Hábitat’s future development. We are constantly in touch with Portugal’s main trade associations, such as APIMA and the Associação Empresarial de Paços de Ferreira (AEPF), as representatives of the country’s major manufacturing clusters, to motivate Portuguese manufacturers to come to Hábitat and do business here.
Portugal is welcome in Valencia! There are daily direct flights between Oporto and Valencia and we are just over an hour and a half away from Madrid by high-speed train. Portuguese interior designers and decorators who visit Hábitat Valencia, as well as everyone who trades in Portuguese furniture, will have the opportunity to see Europe’s top players in the furniture and design industries.
Perspectives for the future, both for the fair, and for the furniture, design and decoration sector?
Our ambition as a trade fair is to be the Iberian peninsula’s best business and export platform for furniture, lighting and décor. To be a must-attend event where all the groups of professionals that make up the industry come together every year to see the latest innovations, share experiences and find new suppliers.