UK – After the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) organised its own trade show for the first time last year, the British association joined ranks with the industry service provider, Sourcing City, on September 19 and 20, 2017: They staged the Merchandise World for the first time at the NAEC in Stoneleigh, England. The concept of the event was a mixture between a conventional show and the “speed-dating” for promotional products suppliers and distributors that had been successfully practiced at Sourcing City Marketplace up until 2016. According to official accounts, more than 200 exhibitors, including many suppliers from the European mainland, exhibited at stands or lounge areas, where individual discussions that could be booked in advanced were held.
Participation at the trade fair is limited: Both the exhibitors and visitors have to either be a BPMA member, member of the Sourcing City Purple Club or a Sourcing City customer. Promotional products distributors without membership, who achieve a certain minimum annual turnover can take part in return for an entrance fee or upon invitation of an exhibitor, end users are not permitted to attend. A model that keeps the attendance figure comparatively low, but at the same time ensures a certain quality level. Many exhibitors praised the intensity of the contacts and discussions as well as the quality of the enquiries. According to the official figures, in total 521 representatives of the promotional products trade attended the premiere of the Merchandise World. A result that the organisers were happy with, even more since both carriageways of the M1 motorway had been shut down for twelve hours on the first day, which prevented some from being able to make it to Stoneleigh.
The supporting programme included diverse seminars as well as the festive BPMA Awards Dinner on the first evening of the show: In front of around 350 guests, the BPMA conferred its awards. The next edition of the Merchandise World will take place from January 31-February 1, 2018.
A further report will follow in the coming issue of eppi magazine No. 119 (October 11, 2017).
// Till Barth
Photos: Till Barth, © WA Media