Autumn Fair offered an unrivalled seasonal product showcase to the UK retail trade

alexAutumn Fair International 2013, an i2i Events Group exhibition that took place on September 1 – 4 at The NEC Birmingham, welcomed over 1,500 exhibitors with 60,000 new launches and almost 30,000 retailers from 80 countries.

Visitors praised the enormous variety of new products on offer at this essential show, which is the prime seasonal sourcing event in the British retail calendar, second only to Spring Fair International in its size and reach.  Independent retailer Ray Cambert was one of many who described Autumn Fair as an event that “you can’t afford to miss.”

As well as being the most important buying event of the season, Autumn Fair is renowned for offering a huge quantity of products that are on trend, in stock and ready for delivery. With the majority of independent retailers now buying little and often with specific occasions in mind, rather than forward planning 12 months ahead and bulk buying at the start of the year, the show has never been more relevant to the UK trade.

While retailers were spoilt for choice on the show floor exhibitors also declared themselves pleased with the event. Paul Rylatt of Global Enterprises was one of the happiest, saying: “I’ve done business here before over the years but this is the best show we’ve ever done with a new product at Autumn Fair, the response has been tremendous. We have had overseas traders, independents, multiples, we’ve got signed contracts and orders from all kinds of retailers – I can probably sit back now and retire but I like the job too much!”

Sam Hurt from Suck UK said: “We have been very busy, and it is just too much fun here. The Autumn Fair is where we show our new products and it is where customers expect to see us. We have met large retailers and small independent stores, The Spring Fair and the Autumn Fair are the best trade shows to meet potential and actual customers”.

New exhibitor Dennis Stougaard of Propaganda commented: “We had a record opening day beating Maison, NY Now and other  international  trade shows. Not only was it high volume it was also visitors / key buyers from major international stores.  This was our first time exhibiting in the UK but definitely not the last”.

500 new exhibitors and 400 overseas suppliers joined a host of UK industry bellwethers across 11 different market sectors, including: Contemporary Gift & Home, Kitchen, Dining & Housewares, Gifts, Home Interiors & Furniture, Gift, Home & Volume, Hobby, Arts & Craft, Greetings & Gift, Children’s Gifts, Toys & Gadgets, Body, Bath & Home Fragrance, Fashion Jewellery & Accessories and The Summerhouse.

An expertly put together schedule of seminars and insight into future trends provided invaluable business advice to thousands of small and medium-sized companies, while some of the UK’s most influential retailers attended a series of briefings on the current retail environment hosted by the World Retail Congress.*

Those in attendance included senior buyers from Tesco and Harrods, with Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, Hamleys, Waitrose, Clinton Cards, Amazon, BHS, John Lewis, Debenhams, TK Maxx, The Cookshop, Fenwick and The V&A also visiting Autumn Fair.

One of the biggest stars of the show was retail and hospitality guru Alex Polizzi (pictured), star of Channel 5 TV programme the Hotel Inspector, who delivered inspirational advice to a packed audience on the opening day of the event. Alex was brought to the event by one of Autumn Fair’s key sponsors, nPower, which also hosted a large refreshment zone at the centre of Hall 5.

npower’s SME sales and marketing director, Phil Scholes commented: “Autumn Fair International has provided us with an ideal opportunity to build on our knowledge of independent retailers and talk to them about their needs, so we can continue to develop the right products and services to support them”.

Also at Autumn Fair The British Travelgoods and Accessories Association presented their Fashion Accessories award from the Fashion Catwalk for the third time at Autumn Fair. BTAA Chief Executive Paul Yates and Chairman David Nathan presented five category winners with a beautiful engraved glass trophy and £500 towards a stand at Spring or Autumn Fair 2014. The runners-up received £100 towards exhibiting at Spring or Autumn Fair next year**.

The Fashion Catwalk once again included scenes in each show featuring knitwear, fabrics and yarns produced by exhibitors from Autumn Fair’s growing Hobby, Arts & Craft section, sponsored by Thomas B. Ramsden, DMC Creative World and Sirdar Spinning. Also in this part of Autumn Fair the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA-UK) hosted a fantastic seminar programme at the Craft Demo area in Hall 4.

Another important award ceremony was held by The Cookshop and Housewares Association (CHA), a division of The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), whose expert panel of judges voted the Gefu Spiralfix, Spiral Slicer distributed by Haus as Best Product at Autumn Fair in their annual awards ceremony, which took place on day 2 of the show.

Also within Kitchen, Dining & Housewares at Autumn Fair, this year’s Cook Live! featured a Dragon’s Den-style competition called Hot Plate on the opening day, where Autumn Fair exhibitors presented innovative new products to a panel of industry experts. This year’s winner was Richard Hogg of Kitchen Concepts with his unique Salt Genie dispenser.

Commenting at the end of the show, Autumn Fair Portfolio Director Nick Davison said: “I am very proud to have overseen my first Autumn Fair as Portfolio Director and pleased at the overall positive reception visitors gave to our fantastic exhibitors and insightful show content. This show is testament to both the resilience of the UK retail trade and more than 1,500 suppliers who’ve pulled out all the stops to put on such a superb showcase. I’m now looking forward to seeing their hot new products hitting the stores in time for Christmas and hope it turns out to be an excellent key trading season for all involved.”

The next edition of Autumn Fair International will take place from September 7 – 10 2014 at The NEC, Birmingham, with the Volume Hall opening one day early. Visit the website for more details and updates.

* Download the full report from the websites: /
** Forma House was winner of the Luggage & Travel category for its Convertible Picnic Bag by Built, with the British Bag Co’s Messenger Back as runner-up. The coveted Fashion Handbag award went to Smith & Canova’s Tudor Collection, followed by Mala Leather’s Abertweed. Santoro won the Small Leathergoods prize for the Scottie Dogs purse wallet, while M Golunski’s Katy Lu was runner up. Balagan’s One Wish collection was the Fashion Jewellery winner, with Miss Milly in second place for the Floria Collection. Last but not least, Powder Designs scooped the Fashion Accessories award for the Audrey Gloves in Tangerine, followed by Mag Mouch Sophos’ Harris Tweed Gloves.