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UK’s biggest exhibition is going ahead as planned

by Emily Wallin

The UK’s biggest trade show has said they are confidently planning to go ahead in February.

Hyve told EN that their Spring Fair will be joining the raft of exhibitions in January and February that are ready to open their doors.

Spring Fair, the wholesale marketplace for home, gift, sourcing, and fashion destination Moda will be going ahead as planned from 6-9 February at NEC Birmingham.

The National Running Show is also on track to open the NEC on 22-23 January and the Toy Fair at Olympia on 25-27 January.

Julie Driscoll, divisional managing director for retail, engineering and manufacturing at Hyve Group told EN: “You absolutely have to adhere to government guidelines . You absolutely have to understand what’s going on. We’re all human beings. What is fantastic is our customers have been rock solid. That’s the barometer. Customers need this show to go ahead.

“We knew we had the support of our customer base. We are lucky that we are the number one trade show within retail in the UK. That means there has been a rush of confidence. What we are seeing is second and third tier trade shows have disappeared. But we are seeing an influx every day, even with international customers. If they can get on a plane, they will.”

Driscoll added that not only are exhibitors keen to return, they are spending more.

“What we are seeing on like for like basis exhibitors are spending more with us than previous years,” she said. “That is a sign of confidence. That means they are believing in the largest trade shows and organisers.”

“We feel really excited about the year ahead at Hyve.”

Anyone entering Spring Fair, including during build and breakdown, will need to show a valid Covid-19 Pass, or negative lateral flow test, and wear a mask – but Driscoll said their exhibitors and visitors would be safer than in their local supermarket.

Driscoll said that the NEC’s research into customer attitudes to safety measures had helped reassure them that visitors felt safe at exhibitions, but added that there had been some moments of doubt over whether they would be able to go ahead as new restrictions were introduced last month to tackle the Omicron variant.

“If you walked around with a bag on your head and your eyes closed you could be fully confident the whole time,” said Driscoll.

“We know those that have major corporate exhibitors are challenged more because many of those corporates are saying ‘we’re not letting you in the office, so we’re not letting you go to trade shows. Whereas our customer base is not big corporates and it’s 90% domestic. They want the show and we want to run it.

“Retailers have been working in stores full time and they are our visitors. They are really keen to come for face-to-face interaction. They have told us they tried buying products virtually and it didn’t really work. They made big mistakes. As a consumer you can buy something online and if it’s not right send it back but if you’re buying thousands of products its not that easy.

“We are lucky because our sector has that confidence.

“The excitement and emotional relief to be together is palpable. “

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