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Larger London Wine Fair ‘will sell out’ says director

London Wine Fair director Hannah Tovey is “very positive” about this year’s show, which is larger than the 2020 edition, and “will sell out”, she told db in an exclusive interview on 22 February.

While upbeat about the 2022 fair, which is the 40th since the event’s inception, Tovey admitted that this year’s event had been especially challenging to organise for a number of reasons.

One of these relates to the fact Tovey has been working with a new sales and marketing new team for this year’s fair, who joined the fair organiser towards the end of last year.

“All our team are new, and were hired between September and Christmas, which means we have around six months to work on the fair together, rather than one year,” she said of the annual event.

The other issue concerns the decision by major international drinks trade event ProWein to move its fair dates from March to May, which, as reported on by db at the time, created a clash with the London Wine Fair’s usual timing in mid-May.

To tackle the problems this would cause exhibitors and visitors planning to visit both trade fairs, Tovey managed to move the London Wine Fair to a later date, taking a three-day slot on 7-9 June, just after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee long weekend.

It wasn’t easy finding a new slot in the calendar of fairs at Olympia in Kensington, where the London Wine Fair is held, and which is undergoing refurbishment, but Tovey was delighted to find a “gap” that has, in fact, benefitted this year’s exhibition.

Not only has it “given us a few extra weeks” to plan this year’s fair, which is “helpful” said Tovey, particularly when working with a new team, but the publicity that came about due to the clash appears to have benefitted the London event.

“The assault on our timing has created a sentiment of support and solidarity towards the wine fair, and, in the past four years [since heading up the event] I have never known such a high volume of positive enquiries,” she recorded.

Continuing, she explained, “All the PR generated around the date move engendered good will and some large companies are coming back to the fair.”

She also said that the new timing following the Jubilee celebrations has “merit”, because “lots of our exhibitors travel a long way to come here, and it means that they will be here when something really exciting is happening.”

Holding the fair almost a month later than usual “should also be even safer in terms of Covid and the weather”, she added, telling db that “rain on an exhibition day can bring visitor numbers down by 20%.”

More generally, Tovey admitted that she was nervous about hosting this year’s fair after such a long period with no major face-to-face trade events due to Covid-19.

“A few months ago, it was hard to know how people would feel coming out of the pandemic, but it seems that there is a will to fill Olympia, so my feeling is that a large-scale London event for the wider global industry is wanted, and I feel very positive about it,” she said.

Tovey also told db that she was “aiming” for 350 exhibitors at the June fair, which represented a small increase on the last physical event, which was in 2020, and that the exhibition was “all but sold out”.

Continuing, she stated, “We will sell out, the hall will be full – already we have 85% of the stands reserved and there is a lot of pending business.”

Finally, she confirmed that the London Wine Fair’s digital exhibition will be taking place again this year, and will be held over two days on 21-22 June.

“Our live event will run from Tuesday to Thursday in June, then there will be a week off, and then two days of digital,” she said.

It should be stated that this meeting and interview between db and Tovey was conducted before Putin invaded Ukraine, which presents challenges for any international event in Europe, and could of course be the cause of significant disruption should the situation worsen.

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