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Hyve changes its plans for Connect at Spring Fair and Autumn Fair 2024

Spring Fair and Autumn Fair show organiser Hyve Group has confirmed this morning (25 September) that it is changing its plans for Connect, its meetings initiative for the 2024 shows.

The following statement comes as welcome news for the greeting card industry:

“Spring and Autumn Fair and Glee, owned by Hyve Group, the UK’s leading creator of global events and retail shows, has announced that its connections programme Connect will not be running in 2024 shows, while the business collaborates with the industry and key partners to create better shows and experiences for the future.

Nicola Meadows, divisional managing director, Hyve Group says: “I would like to thank our exhibitors for reaching out to us with their candid feedback on this year’s Autumn Fair. As a business, our purpose is to help our customers to succeed by helping them meet with new and existing buyers. We understand better than most that face to face is the best way to make meaningful business connections, discover new products, and build relationships in the world of retail. We don’t take our responsibility – to help this community thrive – lightly. We know how important these shows are to the sector, much of which is made up of independent businesses which are the pride of the nation.”

She continued: “I recognise that, during what are increasingly challenging times for everyone in retail, the introduction of Connect did not add value in the way we expected it to. Whilst for most the Autumn Fair was successful and produced great outcomes, it is clear that Connect became a distraction and cause of disruption.

Above: Brainbox Candy’s Ben Hickman used humour to convey the frustration many greeting card exhibitors and buyers felt about Connect.
Above: Brainbox Candy’s Ben Hickman used humour to convey the frustration many greeting card exhibitors and buyers felt about Connect.

“Up to now, our shows have been highly reliant on an analogue format which has remained the same for decades. We introduced Connect with the aim of improving how buyers and sellers do business at our events in a way which makes the most of time and resources. We hold our hands up that we fell short on executing this at Autumn Fair. For that reason, we will not be running Connect in 2024 at Spring Fair, Autumn Fair or Glee.”

Added Nicola: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers again for their patience during this time and the continued support of these historic shows. We have listened to what they have to say, and we care about getting this right.”

Looking ahead, Nicola says there is an opportunity to provide the industry with a considerably better show which delivers increased return on investment through the smart use of data and technology. Committed to innovating and finding ways to improve the show while making an increased effort to keep exhibitors and visitors at the heart of its decision making, they have announced the introduction of working groups to help shape the future of the shows. Exhibitors and buyers are invited to get involved to share their views and opinions by emailing SpringAutumnFairMarketing@hyve.group.

Focusing on the future of their retail portfolio beyond 2024, Spring and Autumn Fair and Glee are committed to creating meaningful experiences and on delivering quality buyers to the shows.

Exhibitors have been contacted with full details on the adjustments to fees and contract details relating to both Spring and Autumn Fair 2024.

Above: GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson (left) with Hyve Group’s Nicola Meadows at Autumn Fair.
Above: GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson (left) with Hyve Group’s Nicola Meadows at Autumn Fair.

This decision follows on from widespread feedback from card publishers, retailers and the GCA – both during and post this month’s Autumn Fair concerning Connect, which received a largely hostile response from the greeting card and gift community.

Having invested heavily in what was hailed as a ‘game changer’ by Hyve, Connect’s premise promised to bring exhibitors and retail buyers together for mutually beneficial pre-arranged timed meetings. However, a combination of the compulsory imposed cost of Connect for exhibitors, the time-consuming preparation required by both exhibitors and retailers and, unfortunately, a poor level of retail buyers showing up for the arranged meetings, saw exhibitors feeling increasingly disgruntled by the new initiative, which culminated in a protest by over 100 exhibitors in Hall 20 at Autumn Fair show on September 6.

Recognising the strength of ill-feeling, following the protest, members of the Autumn Fair team met with a group of exhibitors as well as subsequent meetings with Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA and Sarah Ward, ceo of the Giftware Association. The Hyve team listened to the concerns and also promised a 28-day freeze during which time the key issues would be considered.

As covered on PGBuzz, Amanda Fergusson followed up the meeting with a document which pulled no punches in detailing greeting card publishers’ and retailers’ dissatisfaction with Connect.

Top: Nicola Meadows, divisional managing director, Hyve Group plc, made an announcement this morning regarding Connect.

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