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Quality buyers turn out in force for Autumn Fair International 2012

Autumn Fair International 2012 proved to be a strong retail exhibition showcase despite wider economic challenges that have seen the high street struggling over the summer. The show attracted considerably more department store buyers (up 28%) and other big budget visitors compared with the 2011 show.

First class product selection, improved content and enhanced feature areas made the show an essential destination for UK and international retailers.

While high street trading remains tough, however, many retailers have worked hard to remain buoyant and the entire trade is now galvanised and looking forward to Christmas, with online sales especially expected to increase.

The rise in quality buyers reflects the increasingly strong selection of product on offer at Autumn Fair, particularly in the Contemporary Gift & Home sector, where careful editing plus input from global trend forecasting experts and interior designers has made a big impact on the look and feel of the exhibition.

The director of long-time exhibitor Black Ginger, Annie Paddison, commented: “We were thrilled with business on Sunday and Monday, where 30% of orders were from new customers – coming straight on and ordering. And the ones that came in the morning were then coming back at the end of the day. We have seen international visitors from America, Ghana and Nigeria. We have always loved Autumn Fair. This is our twentieth year – it’s always good for us”.

The MD of Blue Eyed Sun, Jeremy Corner, also had a great show, saying: “Sunday was the best-ever opening Sunday at an Autumn Fair. So far, on the third day, it’s the best-ever Autumn Fair we have had. We have opened lots of new accounts, which is fantastic, and seen lots of returning customers. There has been good international traffic and we are now in key stores such as David Jones – Australia’s equivalent of John Lewis”.

Big budget retailers including Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, John Lewis, Fenwicks, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Amazon, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Liberty, were all out in force and sourcing from every sector of the exhibition. Thousands of independent retailers also attended Autumn Fair with a view to discovering their next big seller and replenishing for Christmas 2013.

A major investment in content ensured the various seminar theatres and feature areas were constantly packed with visitors seeking business insight and inspiration.  Experts from Liberty department store, Robert Dyas, Prezzybox.com, Oliver Bonas, The Giftware Association, IMRG, Conlumino, Retail Birmingham, Intelligent Retail, Gloople and Crafters Companion shared countless strategic tips and gems of advice for the benefit of Autumn Fair visitors.

One of the star presenters was Anthea Turner, on hand to Get Britain Crafting at the new Craft Seminar Theatre in Hobby, Arts & Crafts, a vibrant and buoyant sector that grew 300% for this year’s show. Anthea commented: “For a retailer it’s so easy to come here, Autumn Fair is a one-stop-shop. You have great representation from all the major companies, it’s a mecca for the craft industry.”

A series of extremely popular seminars was also given by Steve Emecz of  POWA Technologies, who showed hundreds of small and medium sized business owners how to Start Selling Online in less than 30 Minutes at the Talking Point Seminar Theatre. This will help them to take a slice of approximately £8 billion forecast to be spent online in the five weeks before Christmas.

The next major retail trade exhibition to be held in the UK is Spring Fair International, due to take place on February 3 – 7 2013.