R+T brings global industry together once again

Issue 95 March 2024

Leading roller shutters and sun shading systems trade fair R+T opened its doors again from 19 to 23 February 2024 for the first time in six years.

A total of 1,020 exhibitors from 43 countries presented their innovations at R+T 2024. The entire Stuttgart Trade Fair Center was booked up with a gross exhibition area of 120,000 square metres. And 61,232 trade visitors from 146 countries came to Stuttgart in order to experience the latest products and services in the industry in a live setting, with 734 Australian making the trip as exhibitors and visitors. 

Roland Bleinroth, President and CEO of Messe Stuttgart said R+T had reaffirmed its role as the world’s leading trade fair for roller shutters and sun shading systems, strengthening its importance as a global industry meeting point. 

“We are delighted that we were able to replicate the successes from the previous event and increase the quality of the visitors even more.

“Due to the six-year break, we admittedly had very high expectations regarding the exhibitor and visitor numbers. We are therefore now all the more pleased that these numbers were fulfilled and actually exceeded.” 

Sebastian Schmid, Vice President of Messe Stuttgart, added: “We drew very positive conclusions from R+T 2024. The global industry for roller shutters, doors/gates and sun shading systems gathered once again at Messe Stuttgart. That makes us more than proud! It would not have been possible without the loyalty of our long-standing partners and exhibitors. R+T certainly again lived up to its reputation as the highlight and innovation platform for the industry.”

Coulisse front & centre

The Coulisse stand was hard to miss. Located immediately after the entrance gates in the Messe Stuttgart Mezzanine, the booth included a holobox, immersive experience, and live demonstrations of smart devices in action within the smart home room. The stand also included a striking 26 metre video screen showcasing the future of smart living with Motionblinds.

Roy Ebbekink, product specialist from Coulisse told WFA the company wants to bring the smart home world to the window covering world. 

“This is our aim. We achieve this by connecting motion to the smart home world with our smart motors and shades. 

“There is a great potential for motorisation in our market. This is what we believe in and what we do.”

The company also had a textile booth in Hall 1 which showcased its range of fabrics as well as those by the company’s recent acquisition Lienesch. 

“On the main stand we are here with our partners, including Google, Samsung, ABB and Eve, who are developing technology for our Motors. 

“They aim to be the first in the market and connect to future technologies that have recently been brought to market by big players” 

The holobox was the box in front of the immersive room, “Our experience started with the holobox, an immersive experience and live demonstrations of intelligent devices in a smart home room.” 

“Afterwards, you arrive in the device room with four settings: morning, home office, movie, and beach (or away from home). When people enter the show floor after this experience, they really see the bigger picture.”


Ebbekink said visitors to the stand had commented that it was completely different than anything they have experienced at R+T.

“A lot of people say that it looks and feels like the Apple store. We are proud of this and would like to achieve the same feeling.”

“Compared to the last R+T six years ago, I think it’s nice to feel the energy from people gathering together again after six years.” 

“It’s a super special feeling and I think everyone is quite excited about being with the whole market together again. Everything really comes together here at a booth too.”

The main focus on the stand was the company’s showcase of smart motors featuring Matter-over-Thread technology for all product groups. 

“We now have a complete range of smart home and smart building motors for not only roller shades, but also honeycomb shades, curtains, and Venetians. The entire range is now ready with the latest technology.”

The company took out two R+T Innovation Awards at the show, the first for its Motionblinds technology and the second for the innovative Smart Frame. Making its debut at R+T, this new solution is the world’s first solar-powered motorised pleated and honeycomb blind in a magnetic frame, specially designed for drill-free installation in tilt and turn windows and doors.

Coulisse: going all in for home automation

It’s been six years since the last R+T and a lot has changed for Coulisse in that time; acquisitions, brand positioning and motorisation-led growth. Now with a global reach including a physical presence in Australia and the US WFA got to sit down exclusively with the co-founders Christiaan and Maurice Roetgering to discuss, R+T, how the company has evolved and where it is headed. 

“To be honest, we had quite a big doubt if people would continue to travel and attend fairs,” Christiaan Roetgering said. 

“When we look at our company, the team’s meetings, the external meetings we have, and work from home, everything has changed. So, we had some doubts if exhibitions would still be held.”

“We had changed the way we did business, to make it more inviting for people to come to us.” 

“However, Sebastian Schmidt, the director of R+T, really convinced me that we needed to be at the exhibition. We said, ‘OK, what will happen after the pandemic? Should we go in?’ What level should we go in at?” 

“And If we do a show, we always do it extremely well. So, we asked should we spend this money? I told Sebastian Schmidt the only way we might be interested is to do a big booth with Motionblinds.” 

Roetgering said Coulisse was not at the show to sell a few motors. 

“We are focused on everything happening in the room and we are trying to educate.”

“We are partnering up with Eve, Samsung, and Google in the world of smart home. The blinds industry, being conservative, may not realise the changes happening in the global market.” 

“The holobox, immersive experience, and smart home settings, where our solutions seamlessly integrate, are the results of future-focused collaborations.”

With the main Coulisse presence at the entrance, there was still a focus on fabrics on its second stand in Hall 1. The ink is hardly dry on the contract to purchase Lienesch (January 1 2024) and yet branding and staff were fully aligned with Coulisse. 

“We worked with Lienesch for many years before the acquisition. To acquire and integrate the company as soon as possible, the Stuttgart show really pushed us to get ready in order to showcase our world leading textiles.”

Roetgering says that the acquisition has brought in a lot of expertise in textiles, especially in pleated blinds. 

“We integrated the collection of roller blinds and vertical blinds, making it much larger than before.” 

“We took a look at where it matched with our existing products. Now, we are even more complete. I believe this will have a global impact.”

In regards to developments in Australia, Roetgering says the biggest focus after the show will be stock and distribution. 

“We have done some business in Australia for some time now, and have our General Manager in place.” 

“Currently, product is being shipped from either the European warehouse or directly from the Far East.”

“So supply is an important step that needs to be taken. Similar to our operations in Miami and Europe, we need to establish a stock of our product in Australia.”

Roetgering added that motorisiation is going to be the driver of business into the Australian market. 

“We are in the momentum in our industry where everyone is aware that smart home motorisation is becoming key.”

Somfy previews Zigbee and TaHoma solutions

On a stand buzzing with innovation and market interest, Somfy Oceania leveraged its presence at R+T Stuttgart to launch a wave of new motorisation and automation offerings.

The Somfy stand at R+T Stuttgart, was a place to discuss, share and connect with customers; and significantly, to present the company’s new and soon-to-be-released smart shading solutions.

“Somfy has a long and proud history of exhibiting at this world leading fair, and we were so excited to be back after a 6-year break since the last show in Stuttgart,” said Mary Ladu, Marketing Manager for Somfy Oceania.

“We were proud to have plenty on offer for our local customers, previewing our Zigbee and TaHoma suite solutions before our local Product Roadshow across March and April.


“During the show, our main goal was to empower our customers and visitors on our stand to discover the benefits Somfy provides daily through our connected solutions and product innovations.”

“The impressively sized stand was split into specific zones, creating an engaging experience for visitors, with lighting, movement, video and other effects creating a stand full of energy, innovation and openness.”

Product innovations on the Somfy stand for the Australian market in 2024 included:

Zigbee motors and controls

• Interoperable, globally adopted and secure Internet of Things (IoT) solution

• Bi-directional feedback on all Zigbee motors

• Embedded Bluetooth for ease of installation

• Creates an ecosystem of Somfy and third-party products that work seamlessly together

• Reduced charging time and new ergonomic design

TaHoma switch

• Smart control to centralise and connect smart shading equipment

• Convenient control in three ways – with the smart control, with the TaHoma app or via a voice assistant

• Two scene launcher buttons on the hub to launch customised daily routines in just one touch

• Compatible with close to 300 types of products, including those from third-party partners

TaHoma pro

• Smartphone tool to quickly and reliably configure and commission all Somfy connected equipment

• Simpler management of all connected installations, directly from the app

• Combination of TaHoma pro and Bluetooth technology provides manufacturers with a streamlined setting process

• Step-by-step installation guide ensures reliable motor adjustment and error-free installation


• Online maintenance tool for Somfy connected equipment

• Clear overview of all installations, helping you diagnose problems and better prepare for customer visits

• Ability to troubleshoot and service remotely

• Receive alerts and find solutions before a customer is even aware

“The timing of the event tied in perfectly with our local launch of Zigbee 3.0 technology and the Pro tools in our TaHoma suite in Q2 2024,” Ladu added.

Ozroll: Long-term investment pays off

Ozroll has been a fixture at R+T Stuttgart since 2000 when it first presented profiles for roller shutter slats and boxes, however the company was quick to learn that this was akin to bringing beer to Germany, Ozroll’s Jack McDonald told WFA.

“We very quickly realised that we couldn’t compete with the established German and Italian companies. 

“So, in 2003, we brought the prototype for the ODS drive system, then we came back in 2006, after we had launched it and that got a lot of interest. It just skyrocketed.” 

“Everybody was trying to work out what was going on and wanted to do something in the battery system, and off the back of that show, we set up our German office just outside Frankfurt.”

McDonald said it has been a tale of two shows for Ozroll.

“We have the European base, which only sells the drive system into Europe. And then out of Australia we sell everything and do quite a bit of export to the US, South Africa and other markets.” 

McDonald noted US interest coming through at the fair, as well as Israelis, Indians, and more, and that is really exciting for Ozroll Australia.” 

“From Europe, we’re lucky to have all the German staff here. There were a lot of Germans, French, Spanish, and Czech Republic. It’s been great for both sides of the business.” 

This year’s R+T was also the first time that the Slidetrack system was exhibited. 

“Everybody’s got a zip system over here, but we have a welded spline, and the European models all seem to have plastic components, whereas our system is more robust. It’s a real point of difference and people are stopping to talk about it, not just in Europe but in the US.” 

McDonald said that Ozroll’s solar panel was also attracting a lot of attention. 

“We were the original solar company and have collaborated with some bigger companies before over here, but everybody stops to check out our modular solar panel. You can detach the battery and the PCB.”

“And that was patented and that’s why you don’t see it anywhere else. There are benefits to that, like the battery can be outside of the box, making it easier to service and avoiding heat issues inside the box. For the technically minded, particularly German engineers, they like to stop and check it out.”

Ziptrak on extending its global presence

Ziptrak’s Marc de Maaijer said R+T had been great for the company, with interest from all over the world and a central meeting point for the company’s many overseas distributors. 

“We were pleasantly surprised by the number of our international distributors who came across for R+T.”

“At one stage we had at least 10 of them on our stand at once.” 

“It was very nice to see so many could make the journey. We were able to communicate with them in person, which was really great. It just shows the reach of our organisation.” 

De Maaijer said the show had been good for picking up new business and distributors and connecting with those who had expressed interest at previous exhibitions. 

“Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our distributors in their respective countries, we saw a great number of visitors to our stand who were already familiar with our product and brand.”

“There’s still plenty of interest from Europe. Our Israeli distributor has done a very good job in his region. There’s plenty of interest from that area. We’re also seeing the UK want to fire things up again.” 

A lot has changed for Ziptrak since the last show six years ago, with a new factory and new products. The company had only just launched its interior system at the last show. 

The Ziptrak Racer Bike Game
Ziptrak – Tony de Maaijer

“We were showing the interior system for the first time in 2018. We’ve had lots of very good interest in the interior system with a full block out.”

“Customers love the manual system. They also love the fact that the clear PVC works so well.”

“It was great to hear customers from different areas of the world coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve been installing your product for the last three years.’ We’ve never met them before. They said, ‘We’ve done over 400 installations, 500 installations, and we never have an issue.’ It was great to get that feedback from the network.”

With the halls filled with zip guide systems, de Maaijer said the zipless Ziptrak stands out.

“People like it. It’s different from the countless other systems in these halls.” 

“Our story is in the product. It’s difficult to tell if some of these stands are selling the same system or if they’re all unique. When people come to the Ziptrak stand, they can see it’s a unique product.” 

A new development on the stand was a joining system for a large blind, allowing high-rise installations that use service elevators, rather than expensive cranes.

“We developed this product for the Singapore market. It’s also seen interest from Australian customers who visited our stand. The blind can be completely cut in half.”

“It gets reconnected as they are installing. Most service elevators can only take two to three metres. The skin isn’t cut in half; its run the other way. All the other parts are cut in half and then rejoined. It’s interesting, it allows for a full view on a balcony as opposed to having a middle post.”

Overall de Maaijer described the show as amazing. 

“It’s been difficult for us to get off the stand sometimes to go around the halls. I think there are some brilliant companies around the world and it’s fantastic that they showcase their innovations here openly for everybody to see and play with. We’re part of that and it’s wonderful for the industry.”

Cherubini – Italian excellence

Matt Doney from Scott Free was on the Cherubini stand for the first time after the company announced its representation of the Italian motorisation company at the BMAA Super Expo in 2023.

Doney said Scott Free was proud to present and represent that product in Australia.

“We have had a number of Australian manufacturers come onto the stand. Now they’ve got to see the product as a whole.” 

“They also learn about the company and its history as a family business. The story of how Cherubini started in the manufacturing industry is also shared.”

“Motorisation has been part of the business for the last 25 years. The company originally started in 1946 with manual cranks; its specialty lies in the European market, and it is currently producing 80,000 motors a month in Europe. It has decided to expand its offerings to Australia and has chosen us as partners.”

There was no shortage of motorisation offerings at R+T Stuttgart, but Doney said that the Cherubini point of difference is their pride in quality.

“They make everything in-house in their factory in Bedizzole, Italy, near Lake Garda. They manufacture everything there, including their cranks and gears. They also try to source everything locally, so they have a good quality control program.”

“Their failure rates are really impressive. They’re proud of having a low failure rate, less than 0.3% across their entire motor range. We offer a variety of motors in Australia and hope to expand that.”

“We offer $125 cash back for any motor failure in conjunction with Cherubini. If a motor fails, we help facilitate replacement with the supply of a rebate and another motor. Once we receive the failed motor, we put it through a testing process to find out what has gone wrong.”

“This gives our customers an assurance that Cherubini are standing by their product. If we start writing out checks for rebates, there will be questions asked at the factory.” 

“This is a family-owned business, now in its third generation. To extend that to the customers, give them an assurance that these guys are standing by their product.”

Doney said that the company had launched a new solar external motor at the show and the company is also in the process of offering DC options. 

“After the show, we’re off to the factory to discuss options for the Australian market. We’ll also be looking at the DC options, which they’re currently doing some R&D on.”

“They’ve recognised the need for a battery product because they’re getting requests from the European market as well for a DC option.”

Doney added that he had had customers from all over Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia on the stand. 

“It’s been a mixed bag, with both manufacturers and retail customers.” 

“Some of the retail customers who have visited our stand are quite impressed with what they see, and their fitters who have come with them are also impressed.”

Gracetex vertical mill offers huge advantages

Steve Montiel from Gracetex was in Hall 1 at the stand of Ateja, the Indonesian Mill which supplies Gracetex. 

Motiel said the show had been great for not just finding new customers, diversifying within the existing customer range.

“Our focus is on diversifying within the existing customer range. So, the goal is to work on diversification within the same customer range instead of just continuously increasing the customer count.”

“The residential ranges of textured blockout are growing, and we fit into category two, which is technical commercial type fabrics.”

“The biggest volume area is very competitive. It has been really good.”

Montiel said the show had been so successful for Ateja that it was going to review its capacity.

“We are going to go through that exercise in the next few months. The last thing we want to do is over-commit and under-deliver. So, let’s make sure we are on top of things there.”

During the show, news had emerged that Vinyl Chloride may be restricted or banned for use in the USA which would have widespread repercussions for the industry. 

“Biodegradable products on our PVC fabrics serve as a stop gap between truly green fabrics (PVC-free and PVC-coated) to meet architects’ requirements for a green product. The biodegradable finish provides the necessary solution.”

“We’re quite far along in terms of exploring alternatives for PVC and conducting trials because the US is a major growth market for Asia. We need to ensure that our products meet the necessary requirements, and development has been in progress for some time.”

Montiel said sourcing out of Indonesia had become more attractive recently to many in the Australian market, preferring it over China

“We’ve had a lot of interesting experiences, some expected and some unexpected, in the market. When I get back, it’s going to be a busy time in Sydney and Brisbane as I meet with these guys and see what we can do. I think the fact that we’re growing in Australia is significant.”

“We examined supply chains and listened to people’s experiences in Indonesia.”

“It’s been a huge selling feature for us, selling our products from Indonesia to our neighbors door-to-door with a two-week lead time. The fact that there are not many mills around the world that can provide such efficient service is fantastic.”

“Window furnishing fabric from Ateja is completely vertical, which is very rare for a mill and a huge advantage for us.”

Louvolite – New Allusion and Perfect Fit Shutter Lite

Andy Burford said that there had been good turnout from Louvolite’s Australian and New Zealander customers with all the major players present.

He noted that Louvolite’s new bottom bar system had been the major attraction on the stand.

 “The uniqueness of the new bottom bar system eliminates and removes creases and puckering.”

“We have been doing ongoing demonstrations on the stand visitors and it has created significant interest from all – including major companies.”

Another major attraction on the stand was the Perfect Fit Shutter Light program, an innovative shading solution that offers a cost effective and hassle-free way to add shutters to a home.


“It works using the same principles as the Perfect Fit program that we already have in use.”

“It has simple but effective installation clips, no drilling and no screws. It’s simple and clean and can be easily removed for decorating and cleaning.”

“Everything for the Shutter Light program is extruded by Louvolite in the UK, and all moulded parts are 100% injection moulded by Louvolite in the UK. Soon we shall be able to ship in manufactured products from the UK “

Burford said that on the fabric side, Louvolite is introducing a new Allusion program to Australia.

Allusion blinds have soft flowing vanes that filter daylight and retain the view when open.

“This new product will be part of our first range.”

“Following that, we will have the Vista and Shadow ranges”

Made up of a combination of sheer and opaque textured fabric, Allusion blinds fit the existing vertical blind Slimline Vogue system.

“So, from a componentry perspective, it’s exactly the same,” Burford added.

Accent Software

Exhibiting for the first time at R+T, Kerry Spero from Accent Software commented that initially he had low expectations of the show. 

“As the week went on, it kept getting better and better and better. We received really good quality leads.” 

“One of the biggest takeaways from the show was that a couple of our clients came over to see us. They weren’t just here to see us, but they specifically came to see us and expressed their interest in our product. They even recommended us to other clients, saying that we should be on their radar.”

The UK had been the target focus for Accent before the show but Spero said that leads had come from unexpected places. 

“I was surprised to learn that Romania has been showing a lot of interest in and South Africa.”

“Australia, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, and eventually the US and Canada are all important focuses for us.”

Spero said R+T was a chance to showcase new features for Accent, including the customer self-service function where quotes can be emailed to the customer and the customer can click on a link at any time of the day to open up the quote.

“Our solution is different from our competitors. When customers click on a link, it takes them to our portal where they can digitally sign the quote.” 

“This ensures two-factor identification and security. In contrast, our competitors simply put a link on their page that directs customers to a payment provider. Customers then have to manually enter the payment information back into the system.”

“With our system, No one has to key anything. Then it notifies the rep that the customer’s paid or the customer’s looking at the quote.”

Spero said that if he had his time again he would have invested in a bigger stand at R+T.

“I spent a fair bit of time with some of the customers that we came across at the expo.” 

“They wanted to talk, and it’s easier to come to an expo where everyone’s open.” 

“This way they can spend an hour or two with me, they can talk about strategy, about how we can better utilise the software in our business to become more efficient.”

Aeronaut – Global brand presence

Adam Dent from Aeronaut said the company had thought long and hard about exhibiting at R+T Stuttgart due to the costs and logistics but the response on the stand had been fantastic. 

“We are a long time exhibitor here and we ended up coming with half our original intended presence, but the response from our clients and the response from prospective customers has been amazing,” Dent told WFA.

“Our brand has been around for 30 years, it’s quite exciting for that brand to have such a strong presence in the marketplace.” 

“People recognize it and know what it stands for. They see us as a provider of great products, solutions, and amazing service.”

Dent said interest had been coming from around the world including Canada, India and Spain. 

“The language barrier has been a challenge at times, we had some Spanish guys here that are really into the machine, but trying to communicate with them was quite difficult for me. 

“So I’ve had interpreters coming from other stands to assist us. It’s been a bit of a challenge, but we’re making it work.”

Dent added it was quite amazing what a little business in Terry Hills Sydney, employing 23 people, could achieve on the global stage.

Visitors take full advantage of Stuttgart pilgrimage

With over 580 Australian visitors walking the giant halls in Stuttgart, it didn’t take long to bump into a familiar face. Fabricators, retailers and installers spent days walking around the 10 halls, taking in the stands and new products. Many also added on factory visits, family catch ups or sightseeing. 

Michelle Macready said the team from BM Blinds travelled to R+T Stuttgart keen to see what window furnishings would be trending. 

“We are seeing a renaissance of interior curves and fluid forms and there Is a trend away from a more linear look. People are stepping on board by adding layers of hues that add depth and warmth to their spaces.”

BM Blinds

“At BM Blinds we are excited about a brand-new range of vertical sheers that will hit our market soon that will help blend the lines between indoor and outdoor living spaces.”

“Australians have always loved a home interior that creates a feeling of calm. Think luxuriously soft furnishings, light and breezy colours and subtle designs that invite calmness.”

Macready said that after such a long hiatus following the lockdowns of the Covid years with travel restrictions and the cancellation of trade shows, it was wonderful to be able to bring back ideas that will benefit BM Blinds customers from the show.

 “Our customers know that we will return with many new ideas and help them keep up to date with improvements and changes within our industry. We are their eyes and ears and come back ready to report our findings with our customers.”

“After any trade show, we are always brimming with ideas, however as a smaller family run business, we can quickly implement these so we can all benefit. That’s the beauty of dealing locally with a company that thinks globally.”

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