LIWF organisers Brintex will decide on whether to hold 2014’s exhibition in ExCel or Olympia in the next few weeks, with the latter location seeming increasingly likely.
The recently-renovated Olympia exhibition space in West Kensington
Speaking to the drinks business yesterday at ProWein in Düsseldorf, Paul Schaafsma, general manager at Accolade Wines, said that he understood the London International Wine Fair would be moving to Olympia in 2014.
He also told db that next year’s fair would feature only single story “shell” stands to keep prices down and increase the focus on the wine.
Meanwhile, LIWF exhibition director Ross Carter told db this morning that Olympia was “definitely a strong option”, although he stressed that the decision to move the fair to the recently-renovated west London exhibition space was not confirmed.
“We are still in discussion and we won’t make the decision until after Easter,” he stated.
He also said that although he expected to choose between either Olympia or ExCel in the next two weeks, he wouldn’t announce the decision until nearer the start date of this year’s fair on 20 May.
“Even once the decision has been taken we probably won’t make it public until the weeks leading up to the fair,” he commented.
As for the suggestion next year’s exhibition would be simpler, he admitted that the “show needs to be all about the wine and there was a period a few years ago when it was more about the look.”
Continuing, he explained that the fair needs to balance a more “modest” appearance while allowing exhibitors to brand themselves clearly.
Nevertheless, he admitted that some restrictions on exhibitors, such as ending the construction of double-decker stands, would make the fair more cost-effective for all those taking part.
The ExCel Conference and Exhibition Centre in London’s Docklands
The LIWF was historically held in Olympia – an exhibition space comprising three halls in west London – but moved to east London’s ExCel in 2001, following the completion of the new 480,000 sq ft space in 2000.
Speaking to db earlier this month, Carter said there were only two viable options for the LIWF in London – either Olympia or ExCel – with the city’s third big exhibition space, Earls Court, due to be demolished.
“If you want 18,000 m2, under floor service ducts and space for trucks to arrive at the same time, then there are only two places,” he commented.
The advantages of moving to Olympia were the “entertaining and hotel options available, nostalgia, and the fact it is closer to Heathrow,” he explained.
He also said Olympia was well served by public transport, with four tube stations within a 10 minute walk of the exhibition space.
On the other hand, in a discussion with db in late February, Andrew Hawes, managing director at UK importer Mentzendorff, described ExCel, based in Docklands, as “marooned” and the exhibition centre as “sterile”.
Summing up, Carter said, “We see it [the location of the fair] as the decision of our key clients. If we are looking to convince UK-based wine businesses to come back in 2014 it really has to be their decision as to where the event is held.”
Concluding he added, “The key issue for me in 2014 is value, and the venue is almost secondary to value… if the fair offers great value, people will still come. There are a lot of people calling for Olympia, but my first concern is making sure there is value in the event.”
Ross Carter was appointed exhibition director of the LIWF at the beginning of this year following news broken by db that James Murray was leaving after 10 years managing the fair.
Carter was previously a wine buyer at UK importer and brand owner PLB, although he had worked on the 2007 and 2008 London wine fairs.
Following this, he went to New Zealand to take up a post as assistant winemaker at Pegasus Bay and then Mudbrick Vineyard.