London Wine Fair will return to Olympia

07 May, 2013

The London International Wine Fair will return to Kensington Olympia in 2014, with cheaper rates designed to attract exhibitors that have deserted the event in recent years.

The fair was held at Olympia until 2001, when it moved to Excel in east London as exhibitor numbers swelled and the Kensington venue could no longer cope.

But in recent years big names pulled out, complaining the east London venue lacked the buzz of the old site and the fair failed give sufficient focus to the UK market.

Organiser Brintex has listened to criticism and rebranded its event the London Wine Fair 2014 to highlight its repositioning as a national wine fair for the UK market.

The Kensington venue has since expanded, and Brintex will take more space next year than it is taking at Excel this year.

For 2014, there will be a 20-25% decrease on the 2012 price for stand space.  There will be also an overall stand restriction, meaning no double height stands, no banners and a maximum floor space.

Show director Ross Carter believes exhibitors will spend 50-60% less on the fair than in previous years.

He said the changes were made after extensive talks with leading exhibitors – past and present.

He believes the big names that will return in 2014 include Mentzendorff, Liberty, Bibendum, Enotria, Hallgarten Druitt and Ehrmanns.

Carter said: “By 2016 the UK will be the world’s biggest wine import market, despite China and the US increasing imports.

“It’s a market that deserves its own wine fair.

“People ask me all the time if I’m worried about Prowein. It’s in Düsseldorf – that’s all I have to say about Prowein.

“We are not competing with that. We are competing with smaller, more focused tastings and generic tastings happening across the UK.

“We need to make the London Wine Fair more focused and relevant to people to incentivise them to come.”

For starters there will be a standalone bulk wine section in 2014.

“It’s been seen as a dirty word but it puts food on the plates of a lot of people in this industry so we will have a one-stop shop for all bulk wine,” said Carter, who attended last year’s fair as a PLB buyer before taking over as show director in late 2012.

There will also be a boutique wine section for small exhibitors that cannot meet the £2,200 exhibitor price. This section will command a fee of £1,000 and will be exclusive to small importers.

Carter said increased technology will also help make the show more relevant by putting independent and multiple retailers in touch only with suppliers targeting their specific channels.

Brintex will also team up with local restaurants and offer exhibitors corkage deals to take customers out and create a “community feel to the event”.

Carter plans to overhaul the masterclasses to make them more relevant to independents. Instead of focusing simply on broad issues like duty, they will also discuss issues that directly affect small wine merchants on a day-to-day basis, like stock control, credit control and how to be a better negotiator.

He said he would also like to pit a government minister against an “anti-prohibition” member of the trade and let them thrash out the issues of the day, “with poor Tim Atkin in the middle trying to keep the peace”.

Independents will also be targeted with more bursaries. Brintex will triple its bursary budget – with money stripped from international advertising – and use this to offer independent retailers extra accommodation and travel bursaries.

It is also considering offering the likes of Majestic managers study bursaries, and plans to overhaul the food options to give visitors “nice, delicatessen-style foods like charcuterie, some of the less smelly cheese” and so on rather than “dodgy hot dogs” to match with their wines.

“The 2014 wine fair will be different – full of pace and energy, educational and engaging,” said Carter.

Brintex will also team up with Wine Intelligence to deliver a “State of the Nation” report which will offer “valuable category insight into the multiple and independent retail sectors”, exclusive to visitors.

Carter added: “Moving to Olympia will mean a refreshed show, and a sense of returning to its roots. Olympia will allow for the reduction in costs we have outlined and also faster travel times for exhibitors and visitors coming in from Heathrow and Gatwick and for UK trade professionals.”

The three-day fair will begin on June 2, 2014.

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