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A General Assembly focused on sustainability, experience sharing and consumers

08 Nov 22

On 15 and 16 September, representatives of EBIA members gathered in Copenhagen for the 23rd General Assembly.

After 2 consecutive years of Covid restrictions, EBIA president Geert Geerkens, was delighted to welcome representatives from both manufacturers and suppliers to the first physical event since 2019. All participants clearly enjoyed this renewed personal contact, in an atmosphere of optimism, revival and experience sharing.

The conference was opened by a very inspiring and dynamic presentation by the international keynote speaker Mr Steven Van Belleghem. He addressed the audience with a thriving speech on consumer-centric thinking, the latest technologies and the human touch in consumer relations, based on his recent book ‘The offer you can’t refuse’.

He introduced the concept of friction hunting and invited all companies to be the oxpeckers to their customers (metaphor to the role these birds have for African rhinos): being there and offering support where and when their customers need it – without their presence being experienced as inconvenient or intrusive).

Many of the speakers touched on the issue of sustainability. Mr Chris De Roock, general manager of the Belgian research center WOOD.BE, talked about “Design for Circularity”.

He elaborated on issues like Extended Producer Responsibility, design for circularity (D4C), the working groups that started this year and that tackle questions like material passports, eco-modulation, circular business models and European standardisation.

Managing Director Frederik Lauwaert presented the activities of EBIA and focused especially on all initiatives related to Extended Producer Responsibility. He also presented the EBIA Blueprint for a European EPR scheme for mattresses. This is a blueprint to assist companies and authorities when developing a national EPR scheme based on the ‘lessons learned’ in countries where such a scheme already exists.

He furthermore dived into the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and presented its potential impact on the bedding sector.

To close that first day of Assembly, Mr Chris Belterman, Product Marketing manager at SABA Adhesives & Sealants, talked about the role of adhesives in a circular mattress.

The second day started with an introduction to the Nordic bedding market by Peter Sturm, CPO at Hilding Anders. He shared with the participants his views on trends related to sustainability, interior design and health&wellness.

Mrs Giulia Taveggia, researcher and analyst at CSIL, opened her presentation with an overview of the sector in terms of production, consumption in the bedding markets across the world. She also focused on the European market, giving the audience a good understanding on the volumes of imports, exports, production and consumption.

She concluded her intervention with details on the E-commerce market both on a European and worldwide level.

Mr John Kruijssen, CEO at BeterBed Holding, closed the annual meeting with a dynamic and interactive presentation entitled “Sleep! Who’s responsible?”. There is no getting away: the quality of sleep is under pressure and the sleep domain is more relevant than ever. He identified seven trends that shape the future of the bedding market – from health awareness, vertical integration to rising online trends and geographic expansion (fragmented retails landscape with brands moving easily across borders). He shared his experiences in changing the way retail interacts with customers and the efforts in moving away from selling beds to providing better sleep for customers. He called all stakeholders to take responsibility in proving a good sleep to the consumer and to endorse their recently launched “Sleep Manifesto”.

The EBIA president concluded the annual conference with an indisputable, positive perception of this General Assembly in Copenhagen. Undoubtedly, the place to be when it comes to sustainable, future proof living.

Finally, all participants and members were invited to next years’ EBIA Annual meeting, that will take place in Prague on 21 and 22 September 2023.