BATIMAT 2017: 5 short days!






On 8 November last, I walked and re-walked the aisles of BATIMAT, one of the most important trade shows in our sector. I did not choose that date by chance, but because visiting the show mid-week makes it possible to gauge the increase in the level of participation. My visit, a short one because I had a lot of meetings scheduled, was very useful to test the temperature in our sector! Below is a detailed review of my visit.

Fewer visitors, a larger number of international exhibitors, lots of artisans, and aluminium is thriving.

  • A visit to BATIMAT always involves a lot of walking. I walked 11 kilometres (according to my connected bracelet!) in Halls 5 and 6, the only two I had time to visit, and always the most interesting in my opinion. All the more so because the digital space, cleverly located between the two halls, brought together companies presenting their digital offers, including the rapidly expanding BIM
  • With the exception of tile manufacturers (except for Imerys, constantly present) and VMZINC, the majority of major roof players were back again this year, without having visibly changed communication strategies: quality stands presenting some new products and the main products and systems in their catalogues. As per usual, one might say!
  • On Thursday, the organiser announced that the percentage of French visitors had risen to 78%. Proof that BATIMAT is less of an international exhibition than it used to be. We had already made this observation previously. For me, the exhibition in Villepinte has become an event attended by international seeking to win over French clients. More generally speaking, while waiting for the final figures to be published, we think that attendance decreased this year.
  • Another personal impression was that very few architects attended the event (I can recognise them quite easily!). But a lot of artisans and professionals, who perhaps accounted for 30 % to 40% of visitors.
  • Since my previous Post on BATIMAT, I met with members of the show’s organisation team several times at Reed Exhibition. We regularly discuss evolutions in the behaviour and expectations of players in the sector. They most likely organise this type of meeting with several industrials and opinion leaders. Which proves they are aware that their exhibition may be in danger. And also proves their wish to change it. This year, they again paid me the honour of inviting me to meet with them and give them my first impressions of the show. We had discussed regrouping offers per constructive system in a type of “innovation hub”, and organising a dedicated space for demonstrations (installation of materials or assembly of components). Despite their numerous attempts, they have not yet managed to convince enough exhibitors to break free from their traditional, mono-brand stand concept and join with other industrials to promote the systemic offers I have been calling for. Apparently they will need time to convince these professionals that it would perhaps be more effective to be present in several locations in this gigantic show.
  • I wasn’t able to attend any conferences, although I do still think the quality of a trade show is also measured by the quality of the subjects covered and the speakers (whom should not consist of a majority of industrials participating more or less skilfully to “sell their wares”!). I know the organisers made significant efforts in this regard, as demonstrated by the productive discussions on the E+C- Label - currently being deployed - held at the “Sustainable building and renovating” Hub, and the “reflections on architecture” conferences. I would also like to take this opportunity to salute Olivier Dupont, formerly of VMZINC and currently in charge of the Products and Projects unit with the Technical center of natural building materials (CTMNC), who gave a presentation promoting his DEMODULOR project, which won an award in the innovation competition*. We were both interviewed for the trade show’s TV channel,“Bati-TV”, by Stéphane Miget, the editor-in-chief of “5Façade” magazine, on the subject of “ventilated facades: trends and evolutions”.
  • Some feedback from experiences at the show concerning roofing and building envelopes, especially in metal. I saw a lot of aluminium, particularly for rainwater evacuation: glued and riveted gutters, profiled on-site in all colours. Worth noting: very interesting continuous forming machines, with various widths, roof parapet profiles traditionally produced via bending. And standing seam aluminium. And at the stands of those who supply these profiling machines, aluminium instead of zinc, except at Jouannel’s stand, a French manufacturer that only works with VMZINC, using various surface aspects. I didn’t see any innovations at zinc manufacturers’ stands, I saw shades of grey and colours that could be suitable for interior decoration. Lots of facade installations with various motifs and perforations. Manufacturers and transformers of composite panels were in strong attendance. Names with “Bond” are currently rampant worldwide. Metal is definitely in fashion!
  • Locksmiths’ and facade designers’ stands were among the finest at the show, especially those of Schüco (always impeccable from floor to ceiling, with optimum showcasing of products) and Technal (a superb stand designed by Kengo Kuma with aerial structures on cables)

What lessons should be drawn?

It was a very pleasant, dense and active day. I had a distinct feeling of being deeply rooted in my sector, a feeling confirmed by Batimat every two years. I would gladly have spent another day at the show, but Villepinte is quite a distance away….

In the suburban train that connects Villepinte to central Paris, I thought to myself: such energy, such fabulous budgets spent for five short days, the first of which doesn’t count (a rehearsal), and the last two of which are not always effective due to an excessive number of visitors! So many efforts for such a low level of visibility. Would it not be possible to make a film of it all and have a three-dimensional record of the stands and mock-ups that could be viewed repeatedly on internet?

On several occasions I was asked: “will you have a stand again one day?” My answer is conditional. If our company were to have a stand again at BATIMAT, it would be different, because I don’t believe in those “egocentric” stands any more. And for the next edition in 2019, given our new shareholder, working in high-end roof-terraces (EPDM) and facade, we will have a comprehensive offer in all aspects of building envelopes, under the new VM BUILDING SOLUTIONS brand. So, watch this space, if the organiser is willing to revert to a 6 or 7 day event!

I welcome all particpants’ views and comments on my assessment of the trade show, both from exhibitors and visitors. My assessment remains that of a partial professional in a hurry :)!

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* The Demodulor project was initiated in 2013, as part of an Ademe call for projects focusing on the improvement of construction waste management. The challenge: make it possible to deconstruct buildings.