It’s our favourite time of year, and I think my 17th Speciality & Fine Food Fair. This year I have cut it fine coming back from holiday, and unpacking and re-packing within 36 hours to leave again for the show, and try and deal with the 7 hour time difference from Malaysia. And my youngest daughter (aged 15) has never had me at home for the first day of the new school year which strangely always clashes with this show. I am sure they would get better attendances a week later, giving people a week to settle back after school holidays. Anyway I am sure this won’t change now!
I am trawling through my mailbox now and there must be at least 50 e-mails from potential new suppliers that will “see me at the show”. I can’t possibly see them all due to volume and they must remember that with a pavilion of over 200 sq. metres OUR main priority at the show is to see existing customers and meet new ones. In fact, a few years ago our area was so congested with potential new suppliers that customers couldn’t get near us, so we started our daily “Meet the Buyer” event to relieve the congestion, which has worked to some extent. However, every year there are some very rude people who refuse to move off the stand until they have managed to locate one of our buyers, and don’t seem to understand why we are annoyed that customers can’t get to us! Nothing will change here either.
The huge growth of this show over the years emphasizes just how much the speciality food market has grown in 17 years. The first year we exhibited, there were around 40 stands and I could drive my car into the hall and park next to our stand. Pure bliss, compared to the complete log jam around Olympia last year when it took me over 90 minutes to drive the van from the car park to the loading area. Let’s hope they have sorted that out this year with fewer officious Olympia staff around! Those who were there know what I mean. Tempers were very frayed!
Anyway back to the proliferation of brands, which is becoming difficult to deal with for both wholesalers like us and retailers. Yet most of the business within the market is done by a much smaller number of brands. Yes, you know the ones that most other wholesalers have copied form the Cotswold Fayre range, which makes all their stands look the same. I don’t see the sense in this and our priority at the show will be to find existing new brands with a decent marketing budget that aren’t planning to supply supermarkets and all our competitors. These are the brands our sales team love selling and getting their teeth into, and those are the ones I want to meet and develop relationship with at the show this year.