Retailers from 84 countries turned out to see 60,000 new product launches from 1,400 suppliers across 12 different market sectors at the UK’s largest and most important seasonal trade show. There was a rise in footfall compared with Autumn Fair 2013 as more visitors opted to attend on multiple days.
A buoyant atmosphere was apparent throughout the event, where 400 companies were exhibiting for the first time this year. The positivity reflected a strengthened British retail industry that is benefitting from good tourist trade and a welcome bounce back in the furniture market amidst improved housing sales.
Buyers from some of the most prestigious stores in the world attended Autumn Fair to select new ranges from the wealth of product launches on display, including: Fortnum & Mason, Liberty’s, The National Trust, John Lewis, Selfridges, The Science Museum, Harrods, Topshop, WH Smith, Laura Ashley, The Eden Project, Homebase, Heal’s, Clintons, Haskins, Toys R Us, Sainsbury’s, Haskins, Tesco, Warner Leisure Hotels, River Island and Fenwick.
Speaking during the show, independent retailer Mark Jones of Occasions Retail said: “Because it’s the last big push before Christmas you’re able to get those key items that are on trend at any particular moment that can draw people into our stores.”
Kevin Bellwood of Roobarb Retail also gave Autumn Fair the seal of approval, saying that “If you are a retailer you cannot afford to not be here.” This view was echoed by the owner of Wild Olive, Julie Holmes, who exhibited her award-winning Body, Bath & Home fragrance company within the superb Contemporary Gift & Home sector.
“It’s our fifth Autumn Fair,” said Julie, “and along with Spring Fair this is one of our most important shows. Autumn Fair is very good for Christmas and we’ve had a very high level of order taking, also picking up a lot of leads. In this industry exhibiting is absolutely vital and for retailers it’s equally important to visit, I don’t see how you can run shops without visiting trade shows, people just need to come”.
The upswing in retail markets that helped generate such a positive atmosphere at Autumn Fair also points to a strong 2015 edition of Spring Fair International. Spring Fair is the UK’s largest retail trade show, where international trade and ecommerce are high on the agenda and participants will have the perfect opportunity to maximise their profits in the year to come. 3,000 of the world’s best suppliers will use the event as their launchpad for the year ahead, with some 70,000 retailers selecting merchandise from hundreds of thousands of new products and market-leading brands.
The importance of i2i Events Group exhibitions to the wider retail industry and UK economy has been marked by a number of new or enhanced collaborations and partnerships with government agencies and trade associations, including UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), The Lighting Industry Association and Brands of China.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy, chose to launch its new e-Exporting Programme at Autumn Fair. Lord Livingston, Minister of State for Trade & Investment gave the keynote speech announcing the Programme and Dan Wagner, CEO and founder of mobile payments company Powa Technologies, shared his perspective on how technology has developed over the years in Britain to help retailers.
The initiative is aimed at encouraging UK exporters to reach out to the generation of digitally-capable consumers who are increasingly influenced through online channels. With more and more retailers now adopting a multi-channel approach to delivering goods, services and information to the consumer, the increasing importance of e-commerce as a way of tapping into new markets is a key issue for the international retail industry.
Lord Livingston commented: “The UK leads the world in cross-border online sales, but there is still much more we can do to help British business seize this huge opportunity with forecasts of three billion online consumers in just three years.”
Another important development which took place at this year’s Autumn Fair was the formalisation of an agreement between i2i Events Group and The Lighting Industry Association to put on The Light Show at Autumn Fair International 2015.
The Lighting Industry Association chief executive Peter Hunt commented: “Autumn Fair is the perfect host for The Light Show. The lighting season kicks off at the start of September so the timing is absolutely spot on, retailers are in buying mode and need to stock up for the season. The partnership between Autumn Fair and UK Trade & Investment is another very significant factor in our decision to join forces, it is a brilliant opportunity for our members. For the past 20 years we haven’t had a trade show that attracts overseas buyers, so it will be really interesting to see how things are at a big international event like Autumn Fair that’s working with UKTI”.
The Light Show will have clear synergy with the Home Interiors & Furniture sector at Autumn Fair, one of the exhibition’s strongest growth areas of the past two years. The recent event saw home interiors, furniture and lighting companies fill Hall 2 and part of Hall 3 with a beautiful display of new products that ensured Autumn Fair was an essential destination for quality buyers of all sizes from around the world.
Other industry associations and trade bodies reinforced their presence at Autumn Fair, with the Cookshop & Housewares Association (CHA) and British Travelgoods & Accessories Association (BTAA) both holding industry awards during the show. The Giftware Association displayed the Gift of the Year Award winners on its stand while the British Jeweller’s Association was present for the first time in seven years and had a product trail of its members for visitors to follow. The CHA and Brands of China also had their own product trails.
Speaking at the close of the show, Portfolio Director Nick Davison commented: “I am proud to have led a strong edition of Autumn Fair International, which has never been more relevant to the evolving retail industry. I’d like to thank all the fantastic suppliers and visiting retailers for supporting the show, which has an unrivalled reputation as the seasonal exhibition of choice for the UK market”.
Autumn Fair International 2015 will take place from September 6 – 9 at The NEC, Birmingham. Visit the website for more details: www.autumnfair.com
*pending BPA audit