London Wine Fair may ditch Maytime slot

15th May, 2017 by Patrick Schmitt

The London Wine Fair could ditch its traditional Maytime slot in the calendar and take place at either end of the year, according to exhibition director Ross Carter.

The London Wine Fair could ditch its traditional May-time slot

Speaking to the drinks business before he announced his decision to step down as head of the UK’s largest wine trade event, Carter said that he was considering changing the timing of the fair, which is usually held in mid-May.

“I am very serious about looking into changing the dates”, he told db earlier this year, which, he admitted, would mean taking it out of May altogether.

Explaining such a shift, he said, “Having spoken to exhibitors and visitors, it is clear that their most significant trading time of the year tends to be the early months of the year – the end of January to March – then things pick up again in September to October.”

While acknowledging that both times would clash with vintages for the southern and northern hemisphere respectively, the success of other shows at either end of the year proves that this doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore.

As a result, he commented, “We are very seriously considering for 2018 moving the fair to one of the two sides of the year, although it would have to be with our clients’ blessings,” he says.

Carter, who has decided to leave his role as director of the London Wine Fair, also told db that stand bookings are down around 10% this year, and described 2017’s event as “the most challenging” of his career.

However, when asked whether stand bookings may be down because of the timing of the show, Carter said that it was not a factor.

“We are slightly down because of uncertainty in the market,” he stated.

Continuing, he said, “Exchange rates have made margins tighter, which means the funds to spend on marketing have perhaps decreased, and then ultimately the return on investment is more difficult to justify – I suspect that’s why a handful of businesses have not come to this year’s fair.”

Meanwhile, it has been rumoured that the London Wine Fair may move from its current home in West Kensington’s Olympia exhibition centre, due to the increasing cost of hiring the events space.

Olympia, which was owned by Capital & Counties, was bought by a consortium of German investors for £296 million last month, and it has since been announced that the cost of using the building will be rising by 5%, annually.

Consequently, London Wine Fair organiser Brintex has reputedly been considering other venues for future fairs, such as Evolution in Battersea Park. However, in an interview with db last week, Carter denied that the exhibition would be changing location. “The Wine Fair isn’t moving venue, that isn’t on the cards,” he stated.

Carter will be leaving the London Wine Fair following the conclusion of this year’s exhibition, which runs from 22-24 May, and he will be replaced by Hannah Tovey, the founder of Imbibe Live.

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One Response to “London Wine Fair may ditch Maytime slot”

  1. Look at how Prowein is managed, catering for both large and small growers. Not cheap but highly efficient – and now world famous. Perhaps have one of the German owners over to manage, usung the German exhibition experience and skills?
    As a small grower in the Languedoc, LWF is too expensive “for the money” when you add in hotels etc. Prowein is excellent “value for money” by contrast.

    Birmingham perhaps? Good transport there.

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