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Busy show buzzes

Spring Fair closes on a high after four days of ‘energy, passion and community’

 

Busy, buzzing, and full of buyers, the four days of Spring Fair 2024 saw the show close on a high at Birmingham’s NEC this week.

With big name interviews including Theo Paphitis and Zandra Rhodes, new releases across the greetings exhibitors and other categories, competitions, birthday celebrations and plenty of orders, show organiser Hyve Events is already looking forward to the next edition – Spring Fair’s 75th anniversary.

Above: Having heard Theo Paphitis’ inspiring retail talk, PG’s Jakki Brown (right) and GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson took the opportunity to meet him backstage
Above: Having heard Theo Paphitis’ inspiring retail talk, PG’s Jakki Brown (right) and GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson took the opportunity to meet him backstage

“I’ve been blown away by the energy, passion and community,” the show’s portfolio director Jackson Szabo said. “The feedback and stories from buyers, exhibitors, and partners have highlighted just how integral this show is to the retail calendar.

“As well as the day job of buying, it enables the retail industry to come alive with inspiration, innovation, knowledge and networking. All of our new experiences and activations across the show floor, and the awe-inspiring content on the three stages, have been very well received and I’ve also loved the sense of fun our exhibitors bring – I’ve seen people dressed as sheep, sharks, dogs, naughty elves and, of course, Peppa Pig!”

Above & top: Ellie Fitzgerald launched Say It With Songs’ collaboration with Widdop And Co
Above & top: Ellie Fitzgerald launched Say It With Songs’ collaboration with Widdop And Co

Among the big reveals was the announcement of publisher Say It With Songs’ licensing partnership with giftware company Widdop And Co, as founder Ellie Fitzgerald showed off the start of the stationery, gifts, prints, wrap and bags as she continues her mission to “bring the dancefloor to the shopfloor”.

In keeping with the cards’ USP of including a qr code to scan and stream the perfect song whatever the occasion, the range will have the same feature and will be fully launched at PG Live in June.

“I’m so excited!” Ellie told PG Buzz, and Widdop director Stephen Illingworth added: “Spring Fair 2024 has been great with such a refreshing buzz, and it has re-emphasised its role as the biggest, best and only show in the UK for exhibitors and visitors alike to source the greatest range of all products to kick start the year.”

Above: Stand neighbours Sarah Kelleher (left) and Tracey Colliston found they had matching frocks
Above: Stand neighbours Sarah Kelleher (left) and Tracey Colliston found they had matching frocks

Ginger Betty owner Tracey Colliston spent Sunday’s opening day playing twinnies with her stand neighbour Sarah Kelleher in the greetings and stationery hall as the pair had somehow managed to turn up wearing exactly the same floral dress!

Tracey laughed: “What are the chances of that – it was certainly a good talking point! The show has been really busy, there has been a good mix of international and UK buyers from independents to larger distributors. There has been a really positive, exciting vibe and it’s been really enjoyable.”

On Alljoy Design’s stand, buyers placing orders went into a prize draw for credit against their next orders, with The Cabin, Lee On Solent, winning gold and a £200 credit, silver £100 credits went to The Little Shop Of Seasons in Honiton, and Ferrers Gallery from Ashby de la Zouch, while the three £50 bronze winners were Caractacus, Clun; Village Crafts, Betws Y Coed; and Papyrus, Glasgow.

Toasted Crumpet owner Jo Clarke said: “It’s been a really fantastic show, the busiest to date. A lot of our new product lines and ranges have had really good feedback. Our new product Blanc has been particularly popular.”

Above: Alljoy sales agent Richard Pass helps PG’s editor and GCA council member Jakki Brown with the prize draw
Above: Alljoy sales agent Richard Pass helps PG’s editor and GCA council member Jakki Brown with the prize draw

Innovative content partnerships with TikTok Shop, Google, and The Future Collective drew captivated crowds with an appetite to discover the next key trends and technologies impacting the retail sector.

Delivering insights on topics ranging from AI and digital retail to conscious consumerism and licensing, and Spring Fair’s three new stages offered its most comprehensive schedule to date, welcoming industry stalwarts such as entrepreneur and former tv dragon Theo Paphitis, who owns card and stationery retailer Ryman which has just entered the print-on-demand card market.

Above: A packed audience heard all about Dame Zandra Rhodes’ glittering career
Above: A packed audience heard all about Dame Zandra Rhodes’ glittering career

And on Wednesday, the final day, British fashion and textile design pioneer Dame Zandra Rhodes spoke to a packed audience about her five-decade career, talking about dressing rock icon Freddie Mercury, her signature chiffon collections, and her collaborations with the likes of Ikea, Happy Socks, and Museums & Galleries.

Zandra finished with: “Never give up! The world might be changing so you hope we’d adapt to it. We have to take advantage of the opportunities that come along and run with it. You should always surround yourself with positive friends who encourage you to try new things and be experimental. It is better to aim for something and you might reach for the stars than regret it for the rest of your life.”

Spring Fair returns for its 75th edition over 2-5 February, 2025, at the NEC in Birmingham.

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