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From post offices to high end department stores, 70,000 retailers from across the globe are flocking to the Birmingham exhibition this February. Robert Hutchins asks Spring Fair’s portfolio director Sarah McLaughlin what we can expect from the event this year, before exploring just some of this year’s toy exhibitors


IT HAS BEEN described as the ‘treasure trove for independent retailers’ comprising of 17 halls showcasing products from 13 different categories, opening its doors to 3,000 exhibitors and attracting up to 70,000 retailers from across the globe.


That’s right, it’s Spring


Fair. And this year i2i Events and the Birmingham NEC promise to host an event offering ‘cross-over buying opportunities and


dedicated content’ that the independent retailer ‘won‘t find anywhere else.’ Making up the categories


this year are products from contemporary gift and home; gifts; Christmas gifts, floral and seasonal decorations; gift, home and volume; greetings and stationery; body and bath; fashion, jewellery, accessories and luggage; home interiors and furniture; kitchen, dining and housewares; art and framing; the summerhouse and The Party Show. Icing on the cake of course will be the exhibition’s large presentation of children’s gifts, toys and gadgets all populating the centre’s renowned Hall 3. “Toys and gadgets is a fundamentally important sector of the show taking up most of Hall 3 alongside The Party Show, a dedicated event relevant to many toy retailers,” Sarah McLaughlin, portfolio director, Spring Fair tells ToyNews. “But unlike exhibitions that


focus only on toys, Spring Fair offers excellent cross- over buying opportunities and is strong in the area of


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traditional wooden toys and higher end products. Anything you could give to a child as a gift can be found at Spring Fair and you won’t find a better variety of product at any other event.” The Party Show promises to live up to its name,


and toys suppliers booked for Spring Fair 2014.” She adds: “We know that


buyers love to see new exhibitors every year so we have worked hard to secure these new brands.” With its focus solely on supporting the retail


Unlike exhibitions that only focus on toys, Spring Fair offers excellent cross-over buying opportunities. Sarah McLaughlin, Spring Fair portfolio director


celebrating toy industry favourites such as Rubie’s, Mask-arade, In Character and Rasta Imposta with sponsored catwalks running three times a day. Amy Fiddy, children’s gifts, toys and gadgets manager is “delighted with the wide selection of gifts


industry, last year the event held The Big Debate, a chance for retailers to voice their opinions and concerns about the market. This year will be no different, with the debate focusing its attentions on the rise in overheads and business rates and taking


place at the Trend Briefing and Seminar Theatre on February 2nd. “Part of our whole role as such an important trade event involves supporting the retail industry in any way that we can,” continues McLaughlin. “Among other things we


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will have a retail advice clinic, where our panel of experts will be sharing their advice on solutions to a few of the most common problems in retail.” The 2014 event will also see the return of the popular Licensing Lounge, where retailers and suppliers meet and discuss the intricacies and benefits of entering the licensing arena. Sponsored by Warner


Bros and co-sponsored by Penguin Books Licensing, participants of the


Licensing Lounge include British Museums and Marilyn Robertson. Licensing industry association, LIMA will also be present, alongside licensing consultant, Keith Pashley who will be hosting the area for the duration of the show. “Demand for licensed


properties and branded products continues to be very strong,” she explains. “For the toy industry, it’s


clearly very important, with movies and children’s TV driving a lot more of the demand for licensed product. It’s an area that can’t be ignored,” concludes McLaughlin.


January/February 101


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