The United Kingdom’s trade show organizers remain upbeat, but are giving mixed reports about the success of their shows in the face of a gloomy economic climate.
“There is no doubt that the retail market is very cautious, which was reflected in the last show,” said Carole Hunter, director of Londonedge Ltd., which produces street- and urbanwear shows Londonedge, Londoncentral and London Front Cover. While Hunter would not divulge attendance figures, she did report no change in the number of exhibitors at Londoncentral and London Front Cover, and a rise in the number of exhibitors at Londonedge. The shows will be held simultaneously this season from Sept. 5-7, at West London’s Olympia 2 exhibition center and the Commonwealth Institute.
Moda U.K. spokeswoman Stephanie Mahon also said that with more than 700 exhibitors last season, it was the show’s biggest staging yet, but agreed that she sees an undercurrent of uncertainty in her dealings with exhibitors.
“We are not seeing an effect in the number of people who exhibit, as that is still on the rise,” Mahon said. “But it seems that people are being more cautious. Although they will exhibit, they are leaving it to the last minute to sign up. They are really thinking about what their priorities are, whether they need to spend on exhibiting.”
Moda U.K. reported a 25 percent increase in attendance figures year-on-year at the mainstream women’s wear show in February 2004, and a 15 percent increase season-on-season. Mahon conceded that it is only a matter of time before the difficulties in the textile industries and the general economic climate impact on trade shows, but is confident that Moda U.K. will stand up to the challenge.
“We are a no-frills commercial show, and people come back because they write so many orders here,” said Mahon.
Of those who do come back,
60 percent are overseas exhibitors, 5 percent of whom travel from North America. At this time, the show is only marketed as a show for domestic buyers, but plans are in place to market the show farther afield. Moda U.K., now in its sixth season, will be held in the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham Aug. 8-10.
Reporting a rise in those attending were sibling shows For Attention Of (FAO) and To Be Confirmed (TBC). FAO, which launched in February 2003, and TBC, which launched in February 2001, are held side by side on London’s trendy Brick Lane and specialize
in contemporary casualwear, urbanwear and accessories.
“[Last season], attendance figures were at an all-time high — double that of previous shows,” said FAO and TBC spokesman Gary Bott. “Our first day, Sunday, saw about 4,000 visitors through the door.”
The next show, which will run Aug. 8-9, will take up more than 120,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Coinciding with the ready-to-wear shows at London Fashion Week is eye2eye, a high-end accessories show, running Sept. 23-24 on Brick Lane, at the Truman Brewery and Atlantis Gallery. The eye2eye management team estimated that the 40,000-square-foot show attracted more than 2,300 visitors and 160 exhibitors last season, its third.
Meanwhile, the long-running accessories and women’s wear show Pure Womenswear will be held this season from Aug. 15-17 at West London’s Olympia.
Pure reported that attendance over three days at last February’s show was up 19 percent year-on-year, and 15 percent on the previous season, with more than 8,000 people turning up at the event. Twenty percent of visitors were from overseas.