After months of planning and hard work, and plenty of anticipation from the industry, the doors opened on the newest promotional merchandise event.
The inaugural Merchandise World show at NAEC Stoneleigh on 19-20 September proved to be well worth the industry’s wait, with more than 200 exhibitors primed and ready to show their wares, discuss business, and demonstrate their creativity to the 521 visitors to the show. Many owners and senior management from professional distributors attended the BPMA and Sourcing City show, where they enjoyed focussed and meaningful conversations with exhibitors.
More than 800 pre-booked appointments took place in the exhibition hall, with many more informal conversations and networking. Fuelled by free food and drink, and pick ‘n’ mix sweets from Sweet Temptations, the atmosphere was upbeat.
The show aimed to give a dynamic portrayal of the industry, with plenty going on in all areas of the exhibition. As well as the colourful stands showing the best of promotional products, the Product Branding World allowed visitors to get up close and personal with the processes of personalisation. Companies such as Listawood and Ancestors of Dover were on hand to demonstrate a selection of branding methods in a live environment.
Chairman of the Briman group of British manufacturers, Mark Alderson, said Branding World was a highlight, demonstrating British manufacturing techniques to distributors first hand. “It was great seeing our clients engage with the different techniques on display. The pewter casting machine demonstrated by Ancestors of Dover was a great insight into traditional British manufacturing techniques,” he said.
The group ran its annual competition encouraging distributors to follow a treasure hunt around the exhibition finishing at the Briman stand. Successful distributors were rewarded with a box of British made chocolate each and the overall prize of £150 in Amazon vouchers was awarded to Naomi Scott of Reflex Marketing.
Looking to the future, and the talent that will fuel the industry, the World of British Innovation area featured great British-made products alongside creative promotional product ideas from design students.
Education and debate was also part of the equation, with a selection of seminars for visitors to attend and get involved with. Topical debate included an Ask the Experts session chaired by Globefish Consulting’s Melissa Chevin, featuring BPMA director general Gordon Glenister, BPMA chairman, Graeme Smith, Neal Beagle of Roantree, Brian Hayward of Page Partnership, and Mike Collins of Account Assyst.
The session touched on the hot topic of the demise of Dukes and how the industry could guard against similar happenings in future.
Graeme Smith said that there were no easy answers. “We pride ourselves in this industry on our openness and trust. Credit is important but trust means engaging with partners and suppliers. The shock across the industry will challenge people to think about how they engage with others.They shouldn’t stop engaging, but they have to manage the process better.”
Engagement was certainly the order of the day throughout the two days of the show. Kes Cracknell, managing director of Ram Branding said he had 70 meetings on the first day of the show alone.
Mick Humphries at TC Group said: “For us the format and size of the show was just perfect. We got to see all we wanted to see by a mixture of pre-planned appointments and just turning up on the day. This worked much better for us, we felt it gave us more flexibility.”
Colin Loughran of Goldstar-Europe added: “Having a strong peak season show is important for the UK market, and Merchandise World certainly meets that need. All the little touches like free coffee and snacks were lovely and made for a great atmosphere.”
The next Merchandise World takes place at The Wing, Silverstone Circuit on 31 January and 1 February 2018. As befits a start of the year show, the onus is set to be on the latest new products from the industry’s top suppliers. Many exhibitors have already taken the opportunity to book their stands at Silverstone.
Following that, Merchandise World will take place at the brand-new Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre from 12 September 2018.