Building sector predicts tough year as Batibouw fair kicks off

The 65th Batibouw building fair opened on Saturday at Brussels Expo with a focus on affordable housing and sustainable renovation. Although the construction sector is expecting a difficult year in 2024, construction association Embuild is confident that Belgians will not lose interest: "People don't want to give up comfort, they are looking for affordable solutions".

It is said that Belgians are "born with a brick in their stomach", a saying that stems from the nation's love of home improvement and DIY. However, industry members are expecting a tough year and organisers FISA have noticed that some exhibitors are still reluctant to register. Around 300 exhibitors are expected to attend this year's event, which attracted nearly 160,000 visitors last year.

The reluctance among professionals reflects the uncertainty in the sector. Embuild, the Belgian construction trade body, is predicting a challenging 2024, with more than half of construction and installation firms seeing a drop in potential client enquiries and 15 per cent fearing staff redundancies.

Economic situation "taken into account"

"As the organiser of the show, we have invested more in supporting the sector," says Cathy De Wilder, marketing manager at FISA. "Batibouw will run over two weekends instead of one as it did last year. We've also reintroduced Batibouw deals, similar to sales in the fashion industry".

Despite the circumstances, ticket sales are going well, says De Wilder. "Consumers are really looking for information." She adds that the economic situation has been taken into account: "People don't want to give up comfort, they are looking for affordable solutions."

The event will take a break on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 February and will run again until Sunday 25 February. Tickets cost 15 euros per person.



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