the Natural Stone Show: so good to be back
A resounding success. That’s how Stone Federation Great Britain described the Natural Stone Show’s return to ExCeL London 6-8 June after a four-year gap due to Covid.
Previous shows have been held in April but this year’s was put back to June to make the most of the final tweeks being made to the Elizabeth Line crossing London. The line makes access to ExCeL even easier and quicker for more people. It had a minor problem with a signal failure during the Show but was a welcome additional route to the venue.
Undoubtedly the world has changed as a result of the Covid pandemic, notably with an acceleration of digital communications and use of social media. Some of the machinery that would normally be seen at the Show was there in digital format only – on the Breton stand you could spin the Genya to view it from every angle with the stroke of a finger on the touch-screen. And the range of machines sold by D Zambelis – including Omag, Emmedue, Terzago and Achilli – could all be viewed on a touch screen only.
Others preferred to have the metal on the Show floor. On Point was showing a Thibaut T812 CNC, a TC625 saw and Rex4 edge polisher, all on their way to Stone & Ceramics in Belvedere, south-east London.
The same company had also bought the Aquafil water treatment plant on the On Point stand – Aquafil being the recycling system now being sold by On Point.
Salvatore Caruso had a Donatoni Jet on display under the name of his new company, Stone Automation, that he set up when he took over the agency for Donatoni last year. The saws had previously been sold by Intermac, which did not exhibit at the Natural Stone Show in London this time.
Stone Automation also sells Bodiam diamond tools, which were on show, and has taken over distribution of Slabsmith, the inventory control system. Bill Elliot came over from America, where Slabsmith comes from, to talk about the system on the stand.
Salvatore said he had expected there to be plenty of interest in the tools and machinery, as there was, but a surprise to him was the high level of interest that was being shown in another of his stands – Italian Luxury Surfaces, which sells Stone Italiana.
Stone Italiana is at the top end of the engineered stone price range and Salv said he thought fabricators were resisting the race to the bottom with Chinese quartz and looking for more exclusive materials offering a better margin.
In interiors and hard landscaping, in particular, most of the stone is imported and there was plenty of imported natural and engineered stone to be seen at ExCeL, both in the Natural Stone Show and the Hard Surfaces exhibition running in conjunction with it. Turkey, China, India, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other countries were all represented in natural stone, quartz and ceramics.
There was less British stone on show this time, although Colin Keevil, owner of Doulting Stone, said at the end of the first day of the Natural Stone Show it was the best day he had ever had at the Natural Stone Shows in London – and he has been at most, if not all, of them – with top quality enquiries.
It was a sentiment echoed by many of the other exhibitors throughout the show. Gone are the days when stone firms shut down to bring their whole teams to the Natural Stone Show for a day out, but those who attend do so because they are looking for answers. As Sherrie Knight on the Clay International stand in Hard Surfaces said: “The quality of the people who have come here has been superb.” Clay International sells top quality Infinity porcelain slabs from Italy.
There will be a report from the Natural Stone Show and Hard Surfaces in the next issue of Natural Stone Specialist magazine. In the meantime, you can take a quick tour of some of what was at the Natural Stone and Hard Surfaces Shows by watching the short video below. And you can see the full list of exhibitors in the Official Catalogues of the shows that can be downloaded from the links below the video.