LIWF: "All UK agents will be back"

31 May, 2013

The organiser of last week’s London International Wine Fair said feedback following its most “challenging” event had been positive, with UK agents keen to sign up for 2014 despite a drop in visitor numbers.

Ross Carter, show organiser at Brintex, said although bookings were not yet open for next year’s show, which will see a move from Excel back to Olympia, the suppliers who exhibited were looking to return.

However, he admitted attendance was down to 10,200, which, although it exceeded Brintex’s 10,000 forecast, was a drop from 13,431 in 2012.

He said: “Numbers were down but we always expected them to be because as a show shrinks in exhibitors, visitors will go down as well. But the quality was really high.

“We haven’t asked anyone to commit contractually to next year yet. But the feedback has ranged from excellent to superb and all the UK agents who took part this year want to be there next year. We’ve also had meetings with several others who didn’t and we are talking about next year.”

He said priority would be given to existing exhibitors with an online booking system going live in weeks to new or lapsed exhibitors.

Exhibitors and retailers visiting the show have urged Brintex to lower costs to attract a broader range of producers.

Ayo Akintola, managing director at Oddbins, which paid for 40 store staff to attend, said: “We can all agree that it was much smaller this year. Personally I hope this isn’t a trend of things to come, but if the UK market is perceived as being a place that is difficult to make money in and it is expensive to exhibit at the fair, we shouldn’t be surprised that a significant amount of important players have decided to stay away.

“Additionally, the smaller producers who would normally attend the fair with a view to finding a potential partner for the UK were not present, as they simply could not afford it – which was disappointing to us. In terms of its worth to the business, this year it was quite limited.

“The main business reason for encouraging our staff to attend has always been twofold – to broaden their horizons and to feed back on wines that blew them away and, as such, the company should list. Alas, this was not the case this year.”

Leigh Claridge, UK & Ireland sales & marketing director at Maison Sichel, said: “Excel has been hugely overpriced and overly bureaucratic. We need to see a big reduction in cost, bureaucracy and a guarantee of the temperature inside Olympia.

“You will not see us at Olympia if the halls are not air-conditioned or cooled sufficiently. We withdrew because of the heat the last time it was at Olympia.”

But 10 International director Bill Rolfe said: “Best show ever. Great to have such good focus on attendees, and we have had many words of support from our customers and suppliers. We are already looking forward to 2014.”

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