Brintex has been compelled to explain its decision to keep the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) at Excel London following industry speculation that the exhibition would return to a central venue.
In a statement, the exhibition organiser pointed out alternative venue options have become limited over the past few months and highlighted the potential redevelopment and closure of Earls Court in 2013 as an example. Earls Court owner Capital and Counties has submitted a masterplan application to redevelop the 77-acre site that would see both Earls Court 1 and 2 close in favour of new residential and business districts. Brintex said it understood the application was at an advanced stage and that Earls Court was not accepting bookings after 2012.
A further setback to central London exhibitions is news that Transport for London plans to stop weekday tube to the Kensington (Olympia) station at the end of 2011 as part of an overhaul of the District Line. The service is expected to be dropped in December.
Brintex’s decision to communicate the limited choice of venue options to the wine industry raises the question of whether other exhibitors and visitors are aware of the changing venue landscape and the implications for attending events.
LIWF relocated from Olympia to Excel in 2001 after finding the glass roof and heat conditions in conducive to tasting wine and has since expanded in size. LIWF event director James Murray stressed the importance of venue choice to the show’s future and appeal and confirmed the next LIWF will take place at Excel from 22 to 24 May 2012.
“Bearing in mind the revelations about the future of Earl’s Court and Olympia though, it’s difficult to imagine how the show could develop at either location,” he said. “The next best option would be Birmingham’s NEC, which we don’t believe fits the profile of the show.”
Murray backed Excel’s strong facilities as a venue as key for exhibitions. LIWF saw a slight increase invisitors to its May 2011 Excel show with 13,754 attendees, up from 13,684 year-on-year.
“Its modern, air-conditioned, pillar-free halls are good for staging a tasting-driven event such as ours, and being on the doorstep of City Airport, it’s extremely popular with many of our international visitors,” he continued. “Exhibitors and visitors can be sure that we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that the venue offers the best facility possible for the Fair.”
Brintex marketing director Will Broadfoot said the organiser was also determined to better ties with the trade and is investigating ways to further develop the exhibition.
“Regardless of the venue, exhibitors and visitors expect to see more than just a trade exhibition,” he said. “We’re in constant contact with producers, retailers, importers, restaurateurs, hoteliers and the international trade at large to deliver a world-class event that works at every level. Expect some changes for 2012.”
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