Natural Stone Show 2015 : Review

The Natural Stone Show in London hit a milestone this year as it reached its 20th anniversary – and what a great show it was! It had just the right mix of international and indigenous stone, machinery, tools and consumables to satisfy the stone sector and its customers who came along to see the latest developments.

More exhibitors. More visitors. More business. That was the Natural Stone Show at ExCeL London at the end of April.

Once again, the two-yearly exhibition saw the whole of the spectrum responsible for the use of stone in construction coming together – everyone from architects and designers to stone extractors, processors and fixers.

Machinery companies exhibiting said the visiting stonemasons had arrived with their chequebooks open. As Nicola Waters, Managing Director of Waters Group, told NSS: “It's been very busy – a really good show for us.”

Stone Equipment International Managing Director Andy Bell said: “We’ve sold a Marmo Meccanica edge polisher every day and have an awful lot of very, very positive leads to follow up when we get back to the office. Some people have even paid deposits on our Emmedue saws, so we know they’re serious.”

Simon Manley on the Intermac stand, where a Master 30 CNC workcentre was displayed, said he had been approached by companies he had not heard of before. Stella Zambelis of D Zambelis said she had added to the tally of 14 Terzago saws she has already sold since taking on the agency less than 18 months ago, as well as selling more Achillis.

One Irish company, Joint It, that introduced its labour saving paving jointing compound at the 2013 show was back because, said Director Gary Duffy, after last time sales had increased 600% – so much that he had recruited John Irving as the company’s representative in the UK to cope with all the extra business.

John was on the stand this time taking more orders. He said: “We took orders for three tonnes yesterday and have sold 300 tubs of Joint-It at the show. We’ve had orders from other parts of Europe and enquiries from South Africa, Kenya and Vietnam.”

The stone suppliers were also enthusiastic about the prospects they were looking forward to following up after the exhibition. Colin Keevil, owner of England’s Doulting Stone Quarry in Somerset, said: “It’s been a very good Show. It’s one of the best ways there is of meeting people who specify and use stone.”

When we asked Hege Lundh of Norwegian granite company Lundhs, exhibiting for the first time, if she had enjoyed a successful Show, she replied emphatically: “Oh yes!”

Nigel Dunnett from another first timer, Agglotech, showing Italian Terrazzo, said: “I haven't counted, but I’ve had 80 to 90 leads. Eight or nine of them seem to be really interesting. I’m really pleased with the way it’s all gone.”

Bath Stone producer Bath Stone Group is a regular at the Stone Shows. Matthew Hawker: “I forgot how quickly the days go by. We have genuinely been so busy I didn’t have a chance to go to the lectures I wanted to attend.”

The lectures he is talking about were at the Natural Stone & Building Conservation Conference that is run in conjunction with the exhibition. Each day is themed: Architect & Designer Day; Industry Day; Conservation Day.

The Architect Day is a RIBA CPD-accredited event that had as its theme this time the advantages of adding value with stone, which attracted more than 100 participants. The Industry Day is run by Stone Federation Great Britain, which had its stone ‘Village’ at the heart of the exhibition. And the Conservation Day was overseen by the new Historic England organisation that took over some of the responsibilities of English Heritage at the beginning of April.

People on the heritage side of the industry were clearly keen to hear what the new organisation had to say and there was standing room only in some of the Historic England seminars.

The Show was so good that there was a flood of bookings for the next Stone Show (back at ExCeL, 25-27 April 2017) even before last month’s Show had closed, as exhibitors sought to secure their favoured positions at the next event.

Already booked are stone producers Albion Stone and Forest of Dean Stone Firms, which shared a stand this time. Consultant Sandberg has booked, Jupiter underfloor heating, stone care and fixing companies Lithofin and Stonecare Europe, Trimline with its range of products for tilers, GMM and Brembana agent Roccia Machinery, stone wholesaler Rocks Forever and Belgium Blue limestone supplier Trans-European Stone.

Stonegate, co-exhibiting on the Intermac stand this time as the sole UK supplier of Intermac’s Diamut tooling, has decided to have its own stand next time, as has Sait Abrasives. And there are more.

The Show was full and the vast majority of the exhibitors had made an excellent job of displaying their products and showing why stone is such a premium product in the construction world.

There was so much to see that even some of the architects who attended the opening Architect & Designer Day returned on subsequent days to take a second look. And it was not only architects who found one day was not enough to explore everything that was on show.

Show Director Richard Bradbury was delighted with the event. “I suppose you always tend to leave a show thinking it was the best ever, but that’s how it feels now,” he said at ExCeL as the exhibitors started dismantling their stands on Thursday night.

“Confidence has returned to the market, which was underlined not just by the increase in the number of visitors but also by the fact that they had live projects for which they needed stone. It’s also heartening to see stone producers and fabricators investing in the latest machinery again, which has had a positive knock-on for tooling, handling products and, of course, fix, seal and maintenance treatments.

“We look forward to building on this year’s success when the Show returns to ExCeL in 2017.”

More news and pictures from the Natural Stone Show in the review that starts on page 16 and at


The full spectrum of the stone industry, from its architects and designers to its fixers, gathered in London on the last three days of April for the celebration of stone that is the Natural Stone Show.

The Show is held every other year and with the UK economy the fastest growing in the Western World last year and construction making a significant contribution to that position, there was a distinct feel-good factor at the exhibition in ExCeL this year.

The trade and professionals who attended had clearly done so with specific aims in mind and wanting to talk business. Exhibitors selling stone, machinery, tools and consumables all reported busy stands and exciting prospects as a result of conversations they had had with visitors.

Some who did not have a stand at the Show this time were wishing they had and have already booked for the next Stone Show in 2017, while some of those exhibiting were so keen to keep their positions that they, too, have already re-booked.

If you are organised enough to be sorting out your diary for 2017 already, you might like to note the Stone Show will be back at ExCeL London in 2017 25-27 April.

In the past, bookings have not been taken this far in advance, but as so many people were keen to secure positions for the next Show, this time bookings are being accepted now, so if you want to secure a particular position call Anna on 0115 945 3897 (

A new feature to the Show this time was an app for smartphones and tablets that enabled visitors to organise their trip through their devices. Thousands of the free apps were downloaded and it was interesting to see how many people entered the show with their eyes fixed on their phones and tablets.

It was also interesting how many exhibitors and visitors used Twitter to promote their participation in the Show. You can see some of the interaction on Twitter at #stoneshow2015.

As one exhibitor said, the Stone Show these days is part of a marketing mix for exhibitors that has to include a website and probably emails and other social media as well as sales people, whereas when the Stone Show first started in London in 1995 it was the only marketing platform for many companies.

The Stone Show itself has incorporated the digital age into its own promotion and all the activity seems to have paid off. All the exhibitors NSS spoke to reported a particularly successful exhibition, whether they were selling stone, machinery or other products.

Visitors also seemed content with what there was to see – some of the architects who visited on the Architect & Designer Day that opened the Natural Stone & Building Conservation Conference run in conjunction with the exhibition, returned on one of the other two days of the Show. As one visitor told NSS: “I only intended to come for one day but there’s so much to see I had to come back today.”

The pictures on these pages will give you a taste of what the Show had to offer – or, for most of you, a reminder of what you saw there. There were more than 200 stands, roughly three-quarters of them showing stone and the others machinery, tools, consumables and other products, so we clearly do not have room here to include a photograph of them all. Apologies to all those that are not included but, again, more pictures are on the Stone Show website ( – click ‘Visitors’ then ‘Photo Gallery’).

The full exhibitor list is also on the website if you are struggling to remember all you saw or are worried you might have missed something. Of course, you can also refer to the Stone Show App and the Natural Stone Show 2015 printed Catalogue.

The machinery companies exhibiting at the Show reported brisk business as stone processors continued to take advantage of current opportunities to offset investment against tax ahead of any changes that might follow the General Election.

UK machinery supply companies have continued to adjust the mix of imported machines they offer and for the first time the French Thibaut range was not on the Waters Group stand but had a stand of its own.

Waters Group is instead offering the Italian Cobalm range of saws. The five axes Integra on the stand was being delivered to Gra-Knight once the Show was over.

Thibaut, on its own stand, was whispering about new cordless vacuum positioning cups that it previewed at its open days at its factory in France just before the Stone Show in London.

It was whispering about them rather than shouting about them because the company wanted to make its major launch of the development at the Stone+tec exhibition in Germany taking place now

(13-16 May).

Comandullis, best known as edge polishers although there are also saws under the same name, were being shown for the first time under the banner of Comandulli UK, a new company that forms part of the LPE Group in the UK that was established to sell the Italian machinery in the British Isles. There was both an edge polisher and a saw on the stand.

An area peripheral to the machines themselves, and which seems to have become a major item of competition, is digital templating.

Once, Dutch company Prodim had this sector of the market just about sewn up and is still in there fighting hard for market share. It was at the Stone Show showing its latest 2D 3D templaters and new offerings to help speed up digital processing.

But it faces plenty of competition. The Waters Group, which used to sell the Prodim products, was this year showing the 3D Distro from Leica in Switzerland promoted with a price tag of just £3,995.

Another of the LPE Group of companies, this time Laser Products Europe itself, was also showing its digital templater and Roccia was introducing its new laser 2D and 3D templaters called ELaser from a company called ETemplate. Paul Hensen from ETemplate was on the stand talking about the templaters. He said his system incorporated measurements easily into computer-aided designs for projects such as worktops, swimming pools and staircases.

Pat Sharkey Engineering was making an impression at the Show with the range of machinery it sells these days. For many years Pat Sharkey and his son Neil have sold German Spielvogel saws but lately they have added significantly to the range of machinery they offer by taking on the agencies for Nuova Mondial Mec, Dazzini quarry saws and the range of French Gilbert saws. At the Show they were also introducing the Lovato Evo, which cuts irregular shaped stones into flats and corners in a continuous process. Lovato are trying to keep the detailed operation of the machine quiet to limit the competition.

Neil Sharkey told NSS the Show had kicked off on the morning of the first day with the sale of three machines straight away. By the end of the Show they had sold 11 saws and three waterwalls and back in the office the week after the Show Neil said “the telephones are in meltdown”.

Another stand that caught the NSS eye was that of Stoneasy, a new and separate operation that has been established by Belgian stone wholesaler Beltrami, which has a UK depot in Halesowen.

Stoneasy offers a way of selecting, ordering and tracking a wide range of stones online, or with a mixture of online and telephone contacts with Liam Lissemore, who is dealing with the Stoneasy operation in Halesowen.

The service was introduced in Belgium in 2007 and has rolled out to other countries in Europe since then, achieving 50% growth in each of the past two years. It made its way to the UK this year and got its first major promotion at the Stone Show. If you want a one minute overview of what it entails, go to and click through to the YouTube video.

It is fairly straightforward: you use Beltrami’s knowledge of suppliers and logistics to buy container loads of stone. You can then track where the stone is and any delays will be flagged up immediately – although so far 89% of deliveries have been on time, according to Bram.

Elsewhere, it was interesting to see Hartham Park Bath Stone being displayed among the stones produced by the Lovell Stone Group.

Lovell says it is taking over the operation of the mine. It seems that Hanson Bath & Portland, which has operated the site form many years, has fallen out with the landowner, which left the lease available and the steadily expanding Lovell Group was happy to take over operation of the mine.

However, Hanson says it will continue to supply Hartham Park Bath Stone. It says it intends to create a new entrance and currently has a planning application with Wiltshire Council for the £1million development.

One of the new exhibitors this time was Greystone Masonry, where Saffi Jafri, whose father owns a white limestone quarry in Pakistan, and a college friend, Jonathan Woodcock, have set up their company in Long Marston, Hertfordshire, with two CMS Brembanas, a Pelligrini wire saw and six full-time employees. They will be selling the Pakistani limestone but say they expect to be processing mainly British stones for contractors and the conservation sector.

“This is very much the beginning of the road for us,” Jonathan told NSS. “This Show… it’s been outstanding.”