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Deck the halls

by Joe Gallop

The Big Christmas Press Show dropped down the BDC’s chimney with a big present for everyone

CIJ Group, which connects PRs with influencers and journalists, hosted the Big Christmas Press Show at the Business Design Centre from 15-16 September. This year saw the retail event held in September for the first time and it will now become an annual date in the media calendar.

With the first day for press and the second day for influencers, the show hosted some 100 brands and over 900 media over the two days. CIJ Group founder Courtney Rogers (pictured right) says: “It’s just over what we had in 2019. We’re delighted that the numbers were actually an improvement on previous years.”

The company has hosted 20 digital events over the past year to help the retail community stay connected, but Rogers says it feels great to return to normal: “Being back in real person for Christmas, which is obviously the biggest time in the retail calendar has been fantastic. There’s no replacement for the in-person style event and we’ve had really good feedback.”

The event, which this year partnered with Lapland UK and charities Make a Wish and Retail Trust, rebranded from the Christmas in July Festival, four years after its inception. Rogers explains the reason for moving the event back to September: “From an exhibitors perspective retail, lead times were being vastly affected by the pandemic and Brexit, and product availability in July was just not happening. We were actually seeing this quite a bit even before the pandemic that things are shifting to later in the year, but it’s been hugely expedited, and it was very similar in the media landscape as well.”

As for CIJ Group’s marketing approach against a backdrop of Covid anxiety, Rogers says: “Our core message since we launched five years ago has always been to save retailers time, resource and budget and I think this year that’s resonated more than ever, because many retailers were very nervous to host their own Christmas press events.”

The event featured several large retailers, such as arts and crafts superstore retail chain Hobbycraft, which Rogers says traditionally would host its own individual events. During the show, she and Katherine Paterson, customer director of Hobbycraft were interviewed live at the show on the Ian King, Sky News, Business Show, where Rogers commented on retail supply chains in the run-up to the retail ‘golden quarter’.

Rogers says Hobbycraft reported meeting 490 media across the two days which is “significantly more” than it would experience when hosted its own events in previous years: “I think actually the comfort of being together and working with other retailers amongst Covid anxiety has actually helped them with solutions that many retailers may not have considered in previous years.”

This article was published in the Autumn edition of EN. Read it here, and/or subscribe for free here

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