Take off at FarnBorough

If it’s September, then this must be Farnborough. The site of the first ever powered aircraft flight in Britain played host to the latest edition of the UK’s main promotional media show on 12 September. Merchandise World came to the new multi-million pound Farnborough International Exhibition Centre for the first time, providing 131 promotional companies with the platform to engage with the country’s main distributors.

The one-day show, which is a joint venture between the BPMA and Sourcing City, proved the place to be for industry players. For many, the event kicked off the previous day with the BPMA Brexit Summit and Leaders Debate providing food for thought on the issues facing the sector (see reports on pages 18-19). This then morphed into a networking event where exhibitors and distributors socialised into the evening. The following day saw the show kick off with free breakfast from 8am served to the early bird exhibitors who zoomed down to Hampshire to get their stands ready for the visitors.

With more than 500 visitors pre-registered for the show, the opportunities to do business ahead of the crucial Christmas period were all too good to be missed. Goody bag stands greeted the steady stream of visitors who arrived at the custom-built venue. This year’s swag included snazzy Just Pads notebooks, sweets from Kalfany, and the must-have item, branded socks from US visitor Strideline. The company was one of a number of international visitors to the show, indicating the growing reach of the Merchandise World brand and the importance of the £1 billion UK merchandise market.

Other international exhibitors included Bellytray from the Netherlands, Turkish textiles brand RSN Exim, and Spanish reusable bag company Diseños NT. British manufacturing was represented yet again by the Briman Group, which exhibited on a joint stand. Participating companies included WCM&A, First Editions, Sow Easy and Foremost Magnets. Nearby, the Branding Zone gave visitors an up-close view of the latest branding techniques. These included clothing company Screenworks demonstrating embroidery, Ancestors showing its casting abilities, and Kalfany inviting visitors to make their own jelly sweets.

Listawood and Sharon Lee hats were also in attendance. Visitors could browse the exhibitors on the show floor and then adjourn to the food court to hold informal meetings. Free lunch and tea and complimentary cakes powered them throughout the day and free massages were also on offer for those who were finding it all a bit too stressful. Show organiser Liz Young said: “We’ve had a successful day at Merchandise World. We’ve had over 400 visitors through the door and it’s been a steady flow of new distributors for our supplier customers. What’s been really exciting has been the number of new suppliers we have been able to introduce – we’ve had 25 new suppliers. Using Farnborough International has been really well received and visitors have been well taken care of.”

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