Spring Fair Advisory Board

Spring & Autumn Fair organiser Hyve has created a new Advisory Board designed to “drive the continuous enhancement of the two shows and ensure that UK retail has a thriving marketplace in which to do business”.

The Board, chaired by Stephen Spencer, Ambience Director at Stephen Spencer + Associates, comprises 15 of the industry’s leading figureheads including trade association representatives John Halliday from Bira (British Independent Retailers Association), Sarah Ward of the Giftware Association, Karen Wilson from the Greetings Card Association, Ben Massey from the National Association of Jewellers; plus exhibitors including Stephen Illingworth from Widdop & Co, Nick Ronald from Casa Verde, Aylish Ellwood from Enesco, Tim Hollis from Talking TablesJason Bensohn from One Dot World; and retailers Kay Hutcheson of Coopers of Stortford, Samantha Gibbs from Nest, and Maggie Thornton from Alligator Pear.

The Board will provide valuable industry insight and advice assisting in the ongoing development and growth of Spring and Autumn Fair.

Jackson Szabo, Portfolio Director at Spring & Autumn Fair, said: “The new Advisory Board is a very exciting development in the shows’ history. Spring Fair has brought the retail industry together for over 70 years, and Autumn Fair for over 30 years. They have become the nucleus of the industry and enabled so much great business to be done.”

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Laura Rae, Head of Community at Spring & Autumn Fair, added: “As we look ahead to Autumn Fair in September and our 75th Spring Fair, we know how important it is to garner support and insight from our key partners and community. Together we can offer the best experiences possible and continue to develop and safeguard the shows to fully meet the needs of the industry now and for many years to come.”

With its future-proofing remit, the Board is committed to guiding Spring & Autumn Fair to achieve a host of outcomes including proactively identifying trends and opportunities within the retail industry, identifying key visitor groups and expanding the regions they come from, and optimising visitor and exhibitor experiences. It will meet regularly to provide honest and constructive participation.

Chair, Stephen Spencer, Ambience Director of Stephen Spencer + Associates,explained his outlook on the formation of the Advisory Board saying: “Having been a buyer, visitor, and exhibitor, at Spring and Autumn Fair for over 30 years, I’m excited and honoured to chair this Advisory Board. Innovation, arising out of genuine collaboration, are key not only to future-proofing these shows, but also to helping shape the future of the gift and home sectors out on the High Street. We’re fortunate indeed to have such an array of talent and experience on the Board.”

Samantha Gibbs, Director of card and gift shop retailer Nest said: “I’m a passionate advocate of Spring and Autumn Fair and a devout user of them, so I’m committed to having a voice to help ensure their future success. The creative, dynamic, and sheer wealth of inspiring products within our trade shows is something that our industry can be very proud of, and rightly so. The shows are at the very heart of our trade and how we present ourselves to the world in an ever-changing business environment is complicated, but means we need to be robust, energetic, and focused to create an exciting showcase which buyers and exhibitors can confidently commit to.”

Spring & Autumn Fair continue to work closely with the industry’s key associations and their participation in the Advisory Board ensures their members are represented. Ben Massey, CEO of the National Association of Jewellers, said: “Representing members exhibiting and attending the show, I’m keen to help shape the Fairs to deliver good value for all participants, and contribute to the annual buying calendar for the UK jewellery sector.”

Five of the shows’ longstanding exhibitors have also joined the Board, including Nick Ronald, Managing Partner of exhibitor Casa Verde, who said: “I absolutely want to ensure that in our ever-changing world, these shows not only survive but they grow and prosper. They are after all the lifeblood of our industry. I see this as a perfect opportunity to make that mission a reality, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity for our voices to be heard.”

Aylish Ellwood, Trade Marketing Manager of exhibitor Enesco, emphasised the shows’ opportunities. She said: “I truly believe that there is no greater opportunity than a trade fair to celebrate the industry: to showcase, inspire, collaborate and explore endless opportunities available to all stakeholders, from suppliers to retailers, trade publishers, artists, trade associations… the list goes on. It’s not only about the people you know, but more importantly about the people you don’t know… yet.”

Tim Hollis, Retail Brand Development Manager of exhibitor Talking Tableshighlighted the importance of face-to-face business. He commented: “I was thrilled to be asked to join the Hyve Advisory Board, combining a fantastic group of retailers and suppliers who are focused with the Hyve team on how Spring and Autumn Fair can be re-positioned so they are relevant for today. Trade shows remain the beating heart of our industry and conducting business face-to-face at these shows remains so important.”

Jason Bensohn, Managing Director of exhibitor One Dot World, added: “It remains very important for a brand like ours to continue to showcase our pieces in front of both existing and potential new clients – and Spring Fair remains the best show within our sector to do that. Clearly the world and the industry have changed a lot since my parents first exhibited at Spring Fair over 20 years ago – but it’s great to work with an organiser that is willing to listen and that is motivated to embrace the changes – as well as overcome the challenges that all shows face now and in the future.”

Spring & Autumn Fair collectively offer retailers the opportunity to source millions of products across Home, Gift, Fashion from more than 1,500 exhibitors every February and September. 

For more information, visit www.springfair.com and www.autumnfair.com

Autumn Fair takes place from September 1 to September 4  and Spring Fair returns from February 2 to February 5 2025, at NEC Birmingham.

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