David Cox, New Zealand Winegrowers’ European director, said the decision had been influenced by wineries wanting to see a “productive return from the investment” in tough times. Cox added: “Interestingly, we witnessed our best ever annual trade tasting at Lord’s cricket ground in January and this decision is in no way a reflection upon the desire for wineries to continue to grow their brands in the UK.”
Simon Thomas, deputy managing director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “We have decided to focus on consumer-facing campaigns and partnerships. This is to ensure we deliver premium consumer engagement delivering sales value growth in-store, which is essential. We will review our presence at the fair in 2013 in due course.”
Sopexa managing director Anne Burchett said some French regional generics would not be exhibiting, but said producers still need to reach retailers. She said: “The fair performs a useful service and I can’t imagine it going to alternate years. Even if you have fewer exhibitors, buyers will still come.
“We have had two large interprofessionals drop out this year and another which won’t be there in 2013. Businesses are having to make very tough decisions. The new mood is about engaging the consumer, forget about the trade – but it is the gatekeeper to the consumer.”
Wines of Chile European director Michael Cox added: “Prowein [Germany’s trade show] is the best European wine show by a long chalk. The Chileans were keen to come to Prowein, but less keen on London, so we reduced our space. But owing to Prowein being oversubscribed, we are now taking the same space at London as last year. Chile is supporting London and we still have big opportunities in the UK. But I hope the fair justifies that faith.”
LIWF director James Murray said while conditions in the UK market were tough, the show would deliver key retailers from across the trade, including independents. “Clearly it is regrettable when we lose any exhibitor, but companies have dipped in and out of the LIWF for many years, even when we were operating in a much more buoyant market,” he said.
“We are obviously disappointed that New Zealand will not be exhibiting as a pavilion but have already been contacted by producers from New Zealand looking for independent stands as a result. For now, 2012 is an exciting year for us and we are confident that our many new initiatives will attract more key buyers from the on-trade, retail and wholesale sectors.”