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Autumn Fair International invests to attract more buyers

Exhibition organiser i2i Events Group has placed significant strategic investment in Autumn Fair International 2012. This is with the purpose of attracting more buyers, keeping them at the show for longer, providing a strong return on investment for exhibitors and an inspirational hub for the retail trade that is vital to the UK economy.

NEW FOR 2012
•    The Kitchen Club (Hall 2): Business networking, café and Make & Bake workshops
•    The Craft Catwalk: Supporting AFI’s fast-growing Hobby, Arts & Crafts sector
•    Season’s Club moves to Hall 5: Putting VIP / international buyers at the heart of the show
•    Two new International pavilions in Home Interiors & Furniture
•    Buying Master Class workshops launching at Talking Point Seminar Theatre
•    The Jewellery Show Salon (Hall 4): Over 50 high-end and semi-precious jewellers
•    The Edit: Application-only, high end accessories showcase
•    Ethical Chic Product Showcase: Presentation of fairtrade and eco-friendly products
•    Body, Bath & Home Fragrance buying trail

Over 34,000 retail buyers from around 80 countries, with a combined buying budget of £6 billion are forecast to attend the show this year. They will have a prime opportunity to source from 60,000 brand new products launched by 1,600* exhibitors from 30 different countries, including 900 suppliers exclusive to Autumn Fair this season.  Visitors from as many as 80 countries are expected to attend.

AFI offers retailers from the UK and overseas an unrivalled product-sourcing opportunity ahead of Christmas and a tantalising preview of new ranges for spring. It presents the most comprehensive offering of giftware – across three halls available to the trade this season.

The show floor has been reshaped to reflect important trends and developments in the retail market. The Hobby, Arts & Craft sector, for example, successfully launched at AFI 2011, will be 300% bigger at the 2012 show.

Former Hobbycraft chief executive and industry ambassador Chris Crombie has worked with event director Roz McGuinness to generate enormous growth in Hobby, Arts & Crafts, attracting some of the most important international names in this business to AFI. New for this sector of the show will be an exciting new Craft Catwalk feature co-sponsored by Sirdar and DMC Creative World, which will sit alongside the existing Fashion Accessories Catwalk in Hall 4.

With nine different show-sectors the cross-over buying opportunities at AFI are second-to-none in the UK this season, with categories that include: Gifts (Hall 5); Contemporary Gift & Home (Hall 3), Volume Gift & Home (Hall 1); Children’s Gifts, Toys & Gadgets (formerly Toys, Games & Kids’ Gifts) (Hall 5); Home Interiors & Furniture (re-edited to include more medium to high-end exhibitors) (Hall 3); Greetings & Stationery (Hall 4); Kitchen, Dining & Housewares (Hall 2); Hobby, Arts & Craft (Hall 5); Body, Bath & Home Fragrance  (Halls 3 and 5); Fashion Jewellery & Accessories (Hall 4) and The Summerhouse (Hall 3).

Product trails buyers can follow are: New Product Creative Britain, Licensed Product, Exporter, Ethical Product, Body, Bath & Home Fragrance and Retail Services.

Managing Director Louise Young commented: “Everyone at i2i Events Group is looking forward to another great edition of Autumn Fair International, building on the success of a very strong exhibition in 2011. We have a lot of new initiatives lined up for the show and are committed to making this a truly inspirational event for the industry that will deliver a good return on investment for all our exhibitors.”

Recognising the crucial role played by both Spring and Autumn Fair as a source of business insight and intelligence for retailers, i2i Events Group has invested in a dedicated Content Manager to ensure essential feature areas such as the Talking Point Seminar Theatre deliver the quality of expertise befitting of a world-class exhibition.

Brand new for Talking Point in 2012 will be a series of Buying Master Classes run by Paul Buckle, director of Rolled up Sleeves. ‘An introduction to skills which will help you to maximise your buying potential’ will take place every day during Autumn Fair from 10.30 until 11.00 am.

The programme will also include an interview with the multi-award winning Oliver Bonas founder, Oliver Tress. Liberty’s Learning & Development manager Jane Leadbetter will offer advice on how to achieve excellent customer service from the very top of the trade, visual merchandiser Janine Tanner of Robert Dyas will provide Basic tips to improve your visual merchandising and increase sales and Zak Edwards, founder and creative director of Prezzybox.com will talk visitors through the free online tools to help grow your business. Mavericks will appreciate the Sex, Mugs and Rock and Roll delivered by Ideas Man Shed Simove, who’ll show where ideas can lead and how you can make anything you desire come to life! (For full seminar details see attached schedule).

In the re-edited Home Interiors & Furniture zone of AFI, located in Halls 2 and 3, two new international pavilions representing South Africa and Morocco will bring even more vibrancy and choice to this stylish part of the show. Visitors to this area can look forward to sourcing from a more carefully edited selection of medium to higher-end home interiors, accessories and furniture suppliers, with a trend-driven focus on the aspirational lifestyle.

The exceptional Contemporary Gift & Home offering of AFI will be located in Halls 3 and 4, where buyers can choose from an incredibly diverse array of market-leading brands and niche designer-makers, offering beautiful gift products to suit all shop styles. Hall 3 will also be home to The Summerhouse, one of the most delightful design-led gift collectives operating in the industry today. This altogether represents the most extensive contemporary gift offering available to the trade this season, second only to Spring Fair in the annual buying calendar.

The popular Trend Bar showcasing key trends forecast by style gurus WGSN will once again be located within the Contemporary Gift & Home offering in Hall 3. The three concepts pinpointed to shape home and gift retailing for spring/summer 2013 are: Wonderlab, The Story of Now and Idiomatic. (See press packs for more details, including colourways).

The Season’s Club has been relocated to Hall 5, where it will sit alongside a stylish refreshment area, the Giving Café. The strategic move will enable VIP and international visitors to remain immersed in the show atmosphere while they recharge their batteries, also offering the ideal environment to conduct business meetings.

Another new initiative for Hall 5 is an Ethical Chic Product Showcase, designed to support the many excellent fairtrade, organic and eco-friendly suppliers exhibiting at AFI this year. The Ethical Chic feature will also be promoted to buyers pre-show, to outline Autumn Fair’s commitment to exhibitors in this category.

An integral part of the Gift and Contemporary Gift offering is Body, Bath & Home Fragrance, which for the first time will have its own product trail. Located across Halls 3 and 5, Body, Bath & Home Fragrance offers a superb selection of indulgent and luxurious beauty and home fragrance brands, ideal for both Christmas gifts and personal pampering.

If Body, Bath & Home Fragrance is the ideal place to source gifts for grown-ups, Children’s Gifts, Toys & Gadgets will include everything you can imagine might be given as a present to a child. From traditional toys, plush and pocket money ranges, to games and high-tech gadgets, this is an essential and distinct component to the central giftware offering in Hall 5 of AFI.

Fashion Jewellery & Accessories – another vital market sector for gift retailers as well as specialist fashion boutiques – welcomes 67 ne exhibitors and two new feature areas: The Jewellery Show Salon, featuring over 50 hand-chosen jewellers and The Edit, which is an application only section for higher end brands. The Brand Boulevard leading to the stunning Fashion Accessories Catwalk is back for a second year. Both The Brand Boulevard and The Edit are already sold out.

Greetings & Stationery (Hall 4) is one of the most versatile product categories on offer at the exhibition, where retailers of almost any specialism can find something that will add interest and value to their stores.  Around 100 top-flight designers will present their latest products in this part of the show, and exclusive to Greetings & Stationery at AFI this season is the Cardgains Village (4E30-F31), where some of the biggest and best names in the trade come to do business.

New for 2012 in Kitchen, Dining & Housewares is a partnership between AFI and the Cookshop and Housewares Association (CHA) and brand new feature, the Kitchen Club. The decision to launch this stylish new business networking area in Hall 2 was created following feedback from exhibitors and visitors indicating that more areas were needed for people to sit down, rest and get refreshments in Kitchen, Dining & Housewares.  The CHA will have its own area within the Kitchen Club for its members to liaise and conduct their business. The ever-popular Cook Live! will also return to the show in 2012, with a fabulous series of demonstrations lined-up. This year’s programme will include Masterchef finalist James Nathan appearing on behalf of I.O. Shen, Justin Capp for Creative Topps and Mark Newbold for Metalex.