ISO Annual Meeting and Congress 2009

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, June 4-6.

With 17 involved participants from 9 countries, on-and-off, at the ISO Annual Meeting in Belfast early June, it was the smallest congress in years. However it was agreed by the participants, that the issues in view of the present situation in the Global shopfitting industry, were more important than ever. But the member companies management’s involvement in anything but sales increase and crisis handling is considered a bad signal to employees, partners, banks and clients, why travelling is limited to the bare necessities. Ask any airline about that!

Nevertheless, ISO conducted a full congress program of usual high quality, get-together where the members even better than usual had time and opportunity to talk, study tour to Patton Group’s operations in Ballymena and Broughshane, and a brief look at the famous attractions, Bushmills and the Giant’s Cuseway, both outstanding sights, and unique to Northern Ireland. Patton’s many activities, and present good business, is divided in construction, shopfitting, joinery, housing and services, and it was a pleasure to view good craftsmanship as well as busy operations, in particular considering the complaints from so many other companies in UK, and elsewhere.

The Management Committee of ISO, as well as the General Assembly confirmed a good 2008 annual result, budgets for 2009 and 2010, including unchanged member terms and fees for 2010.
As usual, the highlight of the business day Saturday was the economic reports of the shopfitting industry in the member countries. The reports will like previous years soon be published together with the minutes and pictures of the meetings on They cover USA, UK, Germany, Holland, Norway, and Denmark, but supplemented by inside, and very interesting information from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, as well as Poland, Balticum, and Sweden.

A special agenda issue was China. It was already last year in Barcelona decided that the next year’s ISO Congress takes place in China in connection with the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. ISO’s secretariat has since January been relocated to Ningbo near Shanghai, and has been assigned the task of organizing a 2010 event, that is expected to get the ISO membership participation back to its former glory. Participants can fly to Shanghai 27-28th May 2010, and spend 4 valuable days visiting a minimum of 5 large and professionel Chinese fixture manufacturers, as well as the World Expo to be the largest ever, double the size of the last. The Expo theme is City development, which is sure to include sustainability, distribution and retail perspectives. The annual ISO meeting takes place
3-5th June in nearby Ningbo, competitive manufacturing and sourcing being issues of great interest.
Invitations for preliminary booking to guarantee Hotel availability is published from the ISO Secretariat and in the Stores+Shops Magazine in September this year. Don’t miss it!

The conclusion of the economic review of the shopfitting industry, is surprisingly, that we are back to normal! After a n overheated situation, culminating in 2007 and first half of 2008, we are back to “normal”. What creates more so-called crisis more than necessary is the over reaction by banks and retailers, to a stop in the fast growth, that we have become used to during the past 5-10 years. Any of our members of the retail interior contracting industry with solid economy, a reasonable spread in customer portfolios, flexible organisations, and a management based on common sense, are sure to survive, and be ready for new growth and good times, maybe sooner than many expext?

With this positive conclusion, the 2009 ISO Congress ended with a Gala Dinner at famous Belfast Merchant Hotel, very appropriately a former bank, in pompous surroundings, and high spirits. The past president Morten Gron-Hansen, Norway, sincerely thanked the immediate past president, Carsten Schemberg, Germany, for his 3 years of dedicated work for the organisation, and in his turn, Carsten Schemberg passed on the honor to new president Francois Mathéron, France.
The message: ISO and the shopfitting industry is in good shape. See you all next year in China!

Preben Bailey
Secretary General
ISO, International Shopfitting Organisation