Recently hosting its 17th edition in Xiamen, China, from March 6 to 9, 2017, the Xiamen Stone Fair fulfilled its show management’s expectations by receiving 150,290 visitors, 29,407 which came from overseas, during the four-day event. Attendance increased slightly more than 1,700 people from the 2016 exhibition.
Xiamen’s location on the sea and nearby to many leading stone processing facilities has become a draw. Since its inception, the stone fair has continually expanded — impressing many industry professionals who have been coming from the start. “This exhibition is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Paras Kumar Jain of Pokarna, an India-based stone producer. “In a short time, it will be the show for the industry. The quality of visitors, exhibitors and facilities has improved a great deal.”
A growing international audience
The exhibition now boasts a floor space of 180,000 square meters, with over 2,000 exhibiting companies from 56 countries and regions all over the world. A considerably noticeable difference from when it first began in 2001 with 125 international exhibitors and 4,000 square meters of floor space. At this year’s show, the exhibition center was sectioned into four different areas — Domestic Stone Area, International Stone Area, Machinery and Tools Area, and Outdoor Area — which assisted attendees in finding target products quickly.
In 2016, new exhibitors accounted for 20% of the total 2,000 exhibiting companies, according to the show’s organizer. The Czech Republic, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan participated for the first time. Xiamen Stone Fair 2017 continued to recruit new products in the global scope, and optimize the structure of exhibitors, so as to spotlight the most abundant and high-quality stone samples.
“I think this year the show has grown more international,” said Nuria Izquierdo, communications and PR corporate manager for Levantina in Novelda, Alicante, Spain, who has been exhibiting at the Xiamen Stone Fair for the past eight years. “We had 120 leads our first day, which is more than double of the number of leads on the first day of last year’s show. Customers are not just asking for blocks either. They are asking for prices of slabs too. Something is changing.”
Among the numerous international pavilions stationed throughout the expansive exhibition was the group of Brazilian stone producers. Many spoke of new activity at their company, including expansion of factories, opening a new area of a quarry or the purchase of another quarry. Overall, the Brazilian stone members were pleased with the turnout at the Xiamen Stone Fair. “We are always very busy here in China,” said Marilia Margotto of Thor Granitos. “It’s always my best show.”
The lineup of exhibitors also included a contingency of North American stone producers, such as Coldspring from Coldspring, MN; Dakota Granite of Milbank, SD; and Polycor of Quebec, Canada. On the equipment side, Laser Products Industries from Romeoville, IL, also exhibited.
When touring the exhibition, it became obvious a large amount of quartz manufacturers were also prominently displaying their products. Even a couple of leading international stone producers, such as Best Cheer from China and Guidoni from Brazil, promoted their line of quartz surfacing.
Moreover, education played a significant role at the Xiamen Stone Fair. After a seven-year endeavor, the World Stone Congress (WSC) is now a series of much anticipated events and seminars dedicated to discovering trends and innovations of the stone industry, according to the show’s organizer, adding it has become one of the must-sees for people attending the fair. The world’s top architects and designers gather here annually for conversation and communication.
In the 2016 edition, MIA+BSI, the Natural Stone Institute, participated for the first time, offering a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development, regulatory advocacy and networking events. This year, MIA+BSI returned with an extensive lineup of stone sessions presented throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Additionally, the Xiamen Stone Fair, in coordination with MIA+BSI, extended a unique opportunity to anyone from the association interested in volunteering their time and serving as part of the delegation for the fair. The 2017 delegation included more than 40 members.
“The show provided an excellent opportunity for member engagement and great exposure for the global stone industry,” said Jeff Handley, member relations manager of MIA+BSI. “We had 41 in our delegation and visited with over 75 member companies who were exhibiting at the fair.” According to Handley, MIA+BSI set out to sign up at least 10 new member companies during the exhibition.
Show management points out the Xiamen Stone Fair keeps pace with the times in the information age by updating the way to register on its official website, as well as other social media platforms — creating the function to search by samples and self-help entry pass by WeChat. Additionally, it provided services in hotel booking, traffic guide and visa invitations. The show’s official WeChat number covers all the latest fair information in both Chinese and English, and quickly becomes the business assistant for all exhibitors and visitors.
Xiamen Stone Fair confirms its status as one of the most important events in the world dedicated to natural stone, as well as design and technologies. It ensures that the exhibitors will meet quality industry members and capture more business opportunities.