Autumn Fair, which takes place from 5 September to 8 September at the NEC in Birmingham, has announced that Theo Paphitis – owner of Robert Dyas and best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den – will deliver a keynote seminar at the show at 3pm on Tuesday 7 September on the theme of ‘The evolving shape of UK retail’ as part of The Inspiring Retail Stage programme.

Theo said: “Autumn Fair is always a fantastic opportunity for connecting retailers and suppliers.  After many months of making the best of the virtual world, Autumn Fair is another sign that retail is getting back on its feet and people are wanting to attend live shows. I’m delighted to be attending, anticipating the live buzz of the event, talking about retail – and of course visiting the #SBS Pavilion. I’ll see you there!”

Autumn Fair is always a fantastic opportunity for connecting retailers and suppliers.  After many months of making the best of the virtual world, Autumn Fair is another sign that retail is getting back on its feet and people are wanting to attend live shows”

Theo Paphitis – owner of Robert Dyas

Theo created the Small Business Sunday (#SBS on Twitter) concept in 2010, inviting small businesses to send him a tweet describing their venture to secure his endorsement. Every Monday, six businesses are invited to become part of the 3,000 strong #SBS community, benefiting from boosted publicity and attendance at a yearly conference.

The #SBS Pavilion is dedicated to showcasing new and unique products from ambitious start-ups and small businesses. In partnership with Small Business Sunday, Autumn Fair runs a competition to give the #SBS community a chance to compete for free exhibition stands. This year Autumn Fair is welcoming back 2020’s #SBS winners to join a super-size #SBS pavilion, totalling 15 winners.

Suzanne Ellingham, Head of Content for Autumn Fair commented: “The last 18 months have left their mark on all retailers. However, with all change comes opportunity, and the chance to change the way that consumers think about retail. We are excited to welcome retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis to the Inspiring Retail Stage to discuss some of the big questions around how independent retailers, who are potentially positioned to come out of this period stronger than ever, can take advantage of this period of change. From how they stay on top of consumers’ evolving expectations, to why they need to double-down on service, no question is off limits.”

The Inspiring Retail Stage programme kicks off on Sunday 5 September at 11am with a panel discussion focused on the future of the High Street featuring Melissa Dawkins from Made in Ashford, Dr Jackie Mulligan of ShopAppy, and Carol Pyrah from Historic Coventry Trust.

Founder and CEO of Next Big Thing William Higham follows at 1pm talking about ‘How tomorrow’s retailers can win big by going back to the future’. He will look at how customers’ changing attitudes and behaviours will impact the High Street of the future. 

Sunday also throws the spotlight on TV interior design master Paul Moneypenny, who will be taking to the stage to talk about his own design inspirations at 2.15pm.

For visitors keen to research the key trends of the season to help guide their buying decisions, day two serves up an insight into the macro-trends impacting consumers at 10.30am with Kate Usher, senior trend consultant at Trend Bible.

Ahead of Theo’s keynote, on Tuesday at 1pm Karl McKeever, founder and managing director of Visual Thinking will tackle the Christmas season with his ‘Christmas is coming: creating a showstopping store experience’ session. His presentation will cover how shopping habits have been changed for good following the pandemic, from getting more comfortable ordering online to expecting far more from experiences in-store.

On Wednesday 8 September, Autumn Fair’s charity and wellbeing partner Retail Trust will start the day with Wellbeing Hour as its CEO Chris Brook-Carter joins Julie Driscoll, managing director of UK Retail, Hyve Group for a conversation on ‘supporting colleagues in retail to thrive’.

This will be followed by a ‘Heads Together: subscribing to new models’ session with Chris Lambert, founder of ScrawlrBox, and Debi McCormack, founder of Boxcitement. They will discuss how new operating models have come into their own, with consumers looking for new ways to discover products and new experiences whilst shopping. One example is subscription retail. With record high consumer interest, low advertising costs, and a confirmed monthly revenue source, is this model the future for independents?

A Daily Digest catch-up session for visitors who may have missed any of the day’s content will take place at the end of each day, when The Inspiring Retail Stage moderator and a selection of special guests will give their thoughts on the day’s sessions and deliver a distilled look at the key topics and discussions.

For more information and to view the full programme visit Pre-register and download the official Autumn Fair App at

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