It wasn’t a Farnborough, but the inaugural Big One show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire is on track to match its ‘big sister’ event in the UK in future years, according to manufacturers and retailers who attended.
Bauer Media acquired the 25-year-old Farnborough show early last year and quickly announced that it would launch a second Big One in the Midlands. Angling International was there for new show’s debut at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre at the weekend. And while attendance was short of the 20,000 that reportedly flocked to Farnborough three weeks earlier, there was widespread praise from exhibiting brands.
Retailers were also largely happy with sales, as evidenced by streams of customers making their way back to the car park laden with new products and show offers.
The only downside for the organisers was the absence of some key brands, including Preston, Daiwa, Fox, Korda and Dynamite. However, the success of the first Stoneleigh may cause them to think hard about next year.
“It’s not sensible to compare it with a long-established event like Farnborough just yet, but we couldn’t fault it for a first show,” said Ian Smith, Sales & Marketing Manager, Shimano UK. “Frankly, we didn’t expect it to be that good. We were expecting a good mix of consumers but were surprised by the number of match anglers in attendance.
“We are already planning to expand on what we did next year and that will include taking more match products. It was the ideal multi-species event. We strategically positioned ourselves opposite a retailer and I know they were very, very happy with the business they did.”
Andrew Race, Managing Director of Reuben Heaton, was impressed enough to return next year. “Despite key brands sitting on the fence, this is proof that a Midland show is viable. It was well attended and we would certainly come back and support it.
“We hooked up with a retailer and one indicator of success is the sales we did at the show. Another is the amount of people we have engaged with, while interest in our products is another. Stoneleigh was on a par with Farnborough, but on a slightly smaller scale. If other key brands had been here it would have held people for longer. I have no doubt it will work going forward.”
Leeda incorporated a sales area into its booth, in partnership with local retailer Gone Fishing, so was able to complete transactions ‘on the spot’ after talking people through their products.
“Having the retailer effectively built into the stand with stock close to hand enables them to convert more sales,” said Leeda Marketing Manager Pat MacInnes. “For us that is the ‘holy grail’ for shows; seeing end users, many of them new to the brand, walking out of the show with a deeper knowledge of your products and a product in their tackle set-up.
“Some of the brands that opted out may regret not being here. This is an exciting new initiative that has to be a benefit for the industry as a whole.
“Our expectations were tempered by the fact that this is a new show, but we’ve seen lots of visitors across both MAP and Wychwood. I expect the show to gain momentum and we will be here next year.”
Darren Cox, UK General Manager, Sert/Garbolino, said comparison to Farnborough is premature. “It was never going to be as big because it is a brand new show, but we are more than happy with the turnout. The quality of the customers is what is important and that has been very high.
“The location in a different catchment area and the popularity of match fishing in the region also means that exhibitors have seen a lot of new customers. I can see it building into a much bigger event in the future and we would certainly support it. Hopefully some of the brands that didn’t exhibit at the weekend will have taken a look and decided they have to have a presence next year. They missed out on a good show.”
Dean Rothery, Territory Manager for Sonik Sports, praised Bauer’s organisation of the show. “They did a fantastic job for a year-one event. The organisational team is to be congratulated. The only negative was that the show could have done with more of the bigger brands exhibiting. However, I know some of them had people walking the floor and I’m sure they will want to be there next year. This show has the potential to be a Farnborough with the right support.
“The majority of shows are carp dominated, but the Midlands is a strong match fishing area and this produced a different audience. Sonik had a very good weekend that exceeded our expectations and we will be back next year.”
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