Thousands of retailers attended Autumn Fair 2015, where they refreshed their stock from 1,400 UK and international suppliers presenting new ranges at the show. Autumn Fair is one of the most important transactional trade events taking place in the UK, with an estimated £1.2bn of orders placed as a result of attending the show.
Eighty–five per cent of visitors state that the festive period is the most important trading time, with the majority stating it is worth up to 40% of their annual turnover.
Over 150,000 new products were launched at the show, making Autumn Fair the ideal place to source hot trending merchandise ahead of the prime Christmas season, with many suppliers offering fast moving stock that’s ready for immediate delivery
Hundreds of new companies joined even more regular Autumn Fair exhibitors including Two’s Company, which has been at the show since it was launched. General Manager Patrick Newton commented: “Retailers have been buying more and placing really good orders. They are very aware of trends and fashion – more than ever before – and buying accordingly. Everything you see on our stand is on stock and ready for delivery, and we’ve seen a lot of independents restocking for Christmas.”
Autumn Fair, this season’s biggest trade event, saw an increase in the quality of attendees, with almost all of the top multiple retailers in the country sending buyers to the event, including:
Tesco, Blue Diamond Group, Toys R Us, Laura Ashley, Card Factory, BHS, Beales, Bentalls, Debenhams, Mothercare, John Lewis, Lakeland, Scribbler and The Entertainer.
Thousands of independent retailers and interior designers also attended from all around the UK and 124 other countries worldwide.
This year Autumn Fair launched Europe’s first trade event Top 100 product charts, giving buyers valuable insight into which products are trending at the show and covering: Home, Gift, Contemporary, Children’s Gifts, Toys and Gadgets, Fashion, Accessories and Jewellery and British Made Products. The trend charts are based on the most clicked website products in the lead up to the show.
In all, over 30,000 clicks created the charts across key show sectors, receiving widespread coverage across the UK’s media including the BBC, Daily Mail and leading trade titles. Furthermore, buyers are still able to use the charts, which are updated live all-year-round, giving a unique snapshot of popular products at any point.
Autumn Fair also launched the ‘Wish List’, a new website function giving buyers the chance to create a shopping list of their favourite products ahead of attending the event. The Wish List, a first for trade events in the UK, has proven a highly successful launch with over 2,000 buyers using the function prior to attending Autumn Fair. Buyers can now compile a list of their favourite items throughout the year from a vast database of new products.
One of the major new exhibitors at this year’s show was Danish home interiors and lifestyle brand IB Laursen, which chose Autumn Fair as its launchpad into the UK market. Spokesperson Karen Westegaard was very enthusiastic about their venture into new territory, saying: “We’ve had a very warm welcome from people in the UK, everyone has been really friendly and we’ve had great feedback on our products, people are very much into Scandinavian style.”
Retailers were also enthusiastic about the show. Lisa Blatch and Fenella Katsoris of Scape Interiors, which has stores in Leigh-on-Sea and Bournemouth, plus an online shop, were attending Autumn Fair for the first time to source furniture, gifts and hot trending products for Christmas.
Says Lisa: “We attended the Autumn Fair to make sure we’ve got the latest on-trend products and all our stock is completely topped up. We are especially talking to suppliers who’ve got stock ready for delivery as soon as we order, that’s really important. I also think the seminars are fantastic, it’s a really good learning opportunity, I am considering sending some of our junior staff members up here for some fast-track learning. Our time at the show has been very productive indeed.”
Cross-over buying options were abundantly available to visitors, with show sectors that included: Contemporary Gift & Home, Children’s Gifts, Toys & Gadgets, Volume Gift & Home, Table & Kitchen, Body & Bath, Retail Shop, Brands of China, The Summerhouse and – new for 2015 – The Light Show.
The inaugural edition of The Light Show provided an exciting opportunity for specialist retailers in this sector to source new products at the optimum time of year for the lighting market.
Paul Carter and Daniel Attenborough of Illuminati commented: “We’ve already seen a lot of the customers we hoped to see here and have had meetings with major stores, independent retailers, interior designers, cruise liners, department stores and hotel groups, we’ve won some significant new business. I also like the fact it isn’t a London show. Some people think design only happens in London but that’s a pretty narrow view and Autumn Fair offers a great opportunity to get people to Birmingham”.
Nicholetta Massoura-Townley of BeeARTisan agreed, saying: “It’s been a fabulous show, beyond my expectations. We’ve taken a lot of orders and have also got a lot of leads for new business, it’s lovely to see how people have embraced The Light Show”.
In the Contemporary Home and Gift section in Hall 3 business was also booming. Joyte Brown from gift and homeware supplier RJB Stone said: “We’ve exceeded our targets, people have been placing orders and the whole atmosphere has been really upbeat and positive. Even now on the last day it’s been constantly busy, I think it’s going to be a smasher, we’re very pleased!
As well as sourcing great new products, many visitors were just as keen to pick up business advice and an insight into macro trends in the lifestyle arena, which are freely available across four seminar theatres located across the show floor.
Canadian visitor Barbar Rupac of Danbar Distribution regular attends Autumn Fair, saying: “I come here to find out what the trends are and it’s the ideal place to meet with existing and potential suppliers”. Acknowledging that retailers no longer tend to bulk buy in spring, Barbara added: “retailers don’t stockpile products at one time of year anymore, they need to be more on trend.”
Key macro trends for the lifestyle sector were shared each day from presentations given at the Hall 3 Trends Theatre by global trend forecasting agency WGSN.
At the new Business and Sourcing Direct Theatre in Hall 5, Gandys and Orphans for Orphans founder Rob Forkan gave a thought-provoking speech, while other keynote speakers at the show included leading British designers Abigail Ahern and Emma Bridgewater.
Of immense importance to the trade as the primary retail exhibition taking place in the second half of the year, Autumn Fair attracted a lot of media attention at the 2015 event, its 25th anniversary edition. Along with hundreds of pages of coverage in UK and International trade press, BBC Breakfast and BBC Midlands were keen to cover an exhibition that helps generate so much revenue for the retail industry and its suppliers.
Speaking as the doors closed on another successful event, Autumn Fair Portfolio Director Naomi Barton said: “The feedback on this year’s show has been extremely positive and we’re very happy with the result. The majority of exhibitors have done very good business at Autumn Fair and we expect as much as £1.2 billion of orders to be placed by retailers as a result of their attendance here. The inaugural edition of The Light Show in particular was a resounding success, everyone was delighted to see such a stunning display of product lighting up the aisles. We would like to thank all our exhibitors and visitors for supporting the show and hope you found your time here to be well worthwhile.”
Visit the website for more details: www.autumnfair.com
image left: Autumn Fair greetings exhibitor Grass Roots International celebrates 20 years in business at the show