‘Bold and busy’ Spring Fair champions sustainability and ethical sourcing

Over 2,000 exhibitors built relationships and signed deals with the retail industry’s biggest players at Spring Fair 2019, according to show owner ITE Group. Of these, more than 600 were new to the event, which was held at the NEC in Birmingham from February 3 to February 7.

ITE Group noted that there was a strong turnout of visitors, with growth in ‘top tier retailer attendance’ including buyers from M&S, Topshop, ASOS, boohoo.com, Liberty, The White Company, Wayfair, John Lewis and Selfridges

Julie Driscoll, managing director of Spring & Autumn Fair said: “In spite of a mixed Christmas trading period and continued Brexit uncertainty, Spring Fair 2019 was an immense success.

“We enabled more connections, more sales and helped forge deeper business relationships across our sectors. We brought together thousands of buyers and exhibitors to prove that retail is indeed resilient, prepared and well-equipped in the face of the year ahead.”

At the show, a line-up of ‘the best and brightest’ from the industry took to the stage at the fair’s three live theatres. Speakers from Louis Vuitton, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Green & Black’s and Insider Trends provided ideas, insight and inspiration for the year ahead, focusing on topics including driving profit, ethical consumption, SEO and social media strategies.

Throughout the Fair, visitors were able to explore the show’s expanded First showcases, designed to support first-time exhibiting brands and spotlight the most individual and intriguing new businesses across specific sectors. TasteFirst, ToyFirst and NurseryFirst all debuted at the show alongside the returning FashionFirst and DesignFirst, which premiered at Autumn Fair 2018.

With sustainability high on the agenda, retailers and buyers were encouraged to pledge their commitment to the #Power of One campaign. This is a new initiative adopted by Spring Fair that seeks to demonstrate how a combination of small, individual changes can create a more sustainable future.

Pledge examples include ‘bringing your own’ bag, reusable cup or bottle to stop the use of single-use bottles and straws; cutting down on packaging; ‘passing it on’ by recycling and upcycling household goods and ‘turning it down’ by taking control of the thermostat at work and home. Attendees who shared their pledges on social media were awarded with a sustainable MyBento hydration bottle, donated by exhibitor Summit International.

Visitors to the main stage on Sunday also had the opportunity to hear about the #Power of One movement from Julie Driscoll and broadcaster and fashion commentator Caryn Franklin MBE, who summarised what the campaign means, and how retailers are embracing the philosophy.

Julie commented: “With this year’s show we really wanted to embrace growing consumer demand for a greater choice of sustainable and ethically sourced products, with a new commitment to supporting retailers and exhibitors who want to do more for the environment. Those retailers looking for products aligning with this trend were able to get their hands on new products which were launched at the show with this very trend in mind.”

ITE Group said that across key sectors, feedback was positive with exhibitors reporting increased interest and strong footfall. It added that many exhibitors were inspired to secure their space for next year’s show in response to the announcement of a major investment programme in Spring Fair 2020.

Julie said: “The 2020 re-edit sets up two distinct sourcing destinations for buyers, making it easier than ever for visitors to locate the right suppliers for them and for exhibitors to generate more new custom.

“We will continue to provide world-class content programmes that help visitors and exhibitors differentiate, compete and succeed, as well as introduce new product categories and sector names to create fresh inspiration for exhibitors and visitors alike.”

For more Spring Fair 2019 highlights, visit www.springfair.com/2019-highlights.

Those looking ahead to Q3 and beyond can book their place at Spring Fair’s partner show Autumn Fair now. This sourcing marketplace for the golden quarter is open for business between September 1 and September 4 at the NEC in Birmingham. Prospective exhibitors can apply for stands at www.autumnfair.com/exhibit/apply-for-a-stand.

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