Thousands of retail buyers, and owners of independent stores from across the UK flocked to Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham today as it opened its doors for the first time in two years. As the largest and longest running wholesale marketplace encompassing the very best in home, gift and fashion, the busy aisles and stands across all eight Halls showing that retailers are ready for a return to business as usual and in-person trading, with a palpable thirst for newness and desire to re-stock their stores with the latest products and innovations.
Open until Wednesday 9thÂ February, the show is expected to generate tens of millions of pounds worth of business, refuelling the retail industry and injecting newness.Â Julie Driscoll, Divisional Managing Director, Spring Fair & ModaÂ says; â€œThe show has been bustling all day today, exhibitors are excited to be back and retailers have flocked to the show to return to face to face business and networking. We are still on a high after winning AEOâ€™s Trade Show of the Century Award, and feel genuinely proud to continue to successfully put on the UKâ€™s largest and longest running tradeshow. We canâ€™t wait for the next 3 days, for the start of Curated Meetings tomorrow, and to see retail flourishing once again.â€
Exhibitor, Liz Ireland, Managing Director and Founder, Bigjigs ToysÂ said; â€œIt is very good to be here and to be back on the show floor talking to buyers, the visitor attendance has been extremely high for the first day and the quality of buyer has been excellent.â€
Exhibitor,Allana Holmes from Hunter Price, said: â€œThis is an exciting time for the business, with new launches on our toy, craft and stationery ranges as well as new homeware collections with Billie Faiers and Style Sisters. We have had a lot of interaction on the stand today with positive reactions and interest in the new products. The buyers we have seen are also looking for ranges with strong visual branding.â€
The much-anticipated launch of the game-changing and innovative Curated Meetings programme kicks off tomorrow (Monday 7th) with hundreds of pre-arranged meetings set to take place between buyers and brands. Exhibitors across gift, home and lifestyle categories are taking part including Tallon, Bluestem, ByMolly & Izzie, Hill Interiors, Soake and Silver Jewellery Cavern.Â Approximately 50% of brands taking part are not exhibiting this year, such as Filofax, Letts of London, Ballard & Hill, Deux Main, Fawn & Thistle, FLO London, McAlister Textiles and We Love Seasons.Â Buyers are pre-qualified for budget size, purchase responsibility and are actively sourcing, and come from national retailers Asda and Midcounties Coop, multi-store independent boutiques such as Nest and Gibbons, destination retailer Kelvingrove Museum and Ragdale Hall Spa, plus +10% travelling internationally to join the programme, including Houstons and Wallaces Homevalue & Garden Centre.Â Â
On the eve of its launch, Product Manager Monica Todd says; â€œHolding the potential to double your return on investment, taking part in Curated Meetings is a game-changing move. It speeds up the process of doing new business, it connects brands with buyers with meaningful budgets, and efficiently secures relevant connections and new partnerships. So much of the behind-the-scenes work has been done over the last 6 months and I canâ€™t wait to see and hear the buzz of it all coming to life tomorrow. The programme delivers a clear and intelligent roadmap to ROI and is the most genuinely exciting new development in facilitating efficient and productive business that compliments the brand presence of a stand and offers new suppliers for options for taking part in the show.â€
On the Inspiring Retail Stage, visitors were encouraged to hear from Karl McKeever, Founder of FutureView, about the opportunities that have arisen as a result of Covid, with many businesses unlearning and relearning behaviours, developing different ways of thinking and doing things, and becoming increasingly creative and collaborative in the process. Interior designer and finalist of TV show Interior Design Masters, Paul Moneypenny discussed his love of design, how to be brave with colour.
As the show came to a close, visitors gathered on the Stage for the Good Retail Awards 2022. Holly Worthington, Editor, Modern Retail from Modern Retail said: â€œThere is a real sense of optimism and the start of a return to normal in the retail industry. As we look back at the positives of the last year the Good Retail Awards are designed to shine a light on the retail industry, those who embraced innovation and great creativity to achieve success.â€
This year, as part of its re-launched Power of One campaign, the Good Retail Awards introduced the Power of One Award with the purpose of recognising a business that has made one small change to their business that has made a significant impact. Plastic-free beauty business Whitfords won for the creation of a sustainable, multi-purpose alternative to commonly found packaging.
Spring Fair takes place on 6th â€“ 9th February 2022 at NEC Birmingham. For further Spring Fair information please visit www.springfair.com
Anyone entering the NEC venue at Spring Fair (including those during build-up and breakdown) will need to show their valid Covid-19 Pass, or a negative result to a Lateral Flow Test taken within 48hours. More details available in the above link.