Thousands of retailers visited Autumn Fair, the UK’s leading wholesale marketplace for Home, Gift, Fashion and Sourcing, yesterday at the NEC Birmingham to source new products from hundreds of exhibitors as well as enjoy a host of insightful and educational talks and inspirational catwalk shows. The show floor was buzzing throughout the day, and feedback from exhibitors highlighted the volume of quality orders being placed while visitors were delighted to discover exciting new brands and products.
Taking place until Wednesday 7th September, Autumn Fair offers the ultimate platform for retailers to discover, network, re-connect with peers, be inspired, and source their next best sellers for the golden quarter and latest seasonal and Christmas designs. Making the journey towards new discoveries even easier, a host of new features including the New Product Showcase, Gift of the Year Winner’s Showcase in association with the Giftware Association, the Sustainable Product Showcase, and the Power of One® stand, offered curated product inspiration and created a visual and interactive space for visitors to make their sustainability pledges. Visitors also learned more about Autumn Fair’s three Power of One® pledges to make positive changes towards better sustainability and wellbeing, while watching the talented artist Saroj Patel painting a striking mural.
Retailers in attendance from across the UK and overseas including White Magic, Pamela Shiffer, SUCCUBUS, Denby, Rumbul, Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Geschenke Direkt GmbH, Gibbs & Dandy Ltd, The Snug Room, Thomas Morans, Shoe Heaven/Hand Footwear, Lorraine Fire, Kosmelita, Lark London, Landmark Group, Home Sweet Home (SW) Ltd, Barkers, Chester Zoo, Elphicks Department Store, India Jane, Jigsaw, Next, TK Maxx, Yarton Home & Garden and many more, were excited to see the breadth of product offered across the 12 sectors.
Pamela Shiffer, Owner, Pamela Shiffer; "We always come to Autumn Fair and MODA, for us it's in the in-season hit we need. This year we've found some fantastic new brands, including FIKA and Candlehand. We already stocked and did really well with FYG (candles) and they told us their sustainable clothing sister-brand FIKA were here, so it was really exciting to see them here. They're very wearable and affordable for a sustainable brand. We also love Candlehand for some fun Christmas gifting bits. We love coming here and finding pieces like these as we can see how they immediately will sit with pieces we've already bought.”
Steven Morgan, Director of Imperial Games Limited said; “It’s my first-time visiting Autumn Fair, I have been surprised by the quality and range of the exhibitors along with the organisation of the event team. I will be back next year!”
Nicky Quinn, Owner of Quinns of Thorpe Bay said; “I've been coming to Spring and Autumn Fair’s for about ten years', I love it. I come for the variety and to find new things - I've met about 6 or 7 suppliers today that I look forward to working with in the future.”
Amy Mann, Owner of Pretty Stories said; "I've been in the retail business for ten years; I have a bridal boutique, and I opened my online clothing boutique about a year ago during the lockdown because my bridal shop was closed. This year is fabulous, we've only been here for two hours but we've already got a couple of new suppliers and made some orders. We don't waste any time. We caught one of the sustainability talks earlier, it's interesting because we were actually looking at a new sustainable brand whilst it was going on.”
Angela Teasdale, Director of Emporium Gifts Ltd said; “I have been coming to Autumn Fair now for 11 years, we come to buy jewellery, gifts and fashion accessories. We always really enjoy coming to the show.”
Ahmad Salam, Director of Fazaltex UK Limited commented; "We have been attending Autumn Fair since 2017, we come back each year as during every visit we source new suppliers. We have been here a couple of hours and already have found two new suppliers we will do business with after the show.”
Emma Cable, Buyer at Alton Garden Centre said: "We have been coming to Autumn Fair for the last 5 years and find its useful to meet existing suppliers and also nice to look around each hall to see if there is anything new we can stock in our garden centre."
Marian Shaw, Owner of Marian Shaw said; “The show has been better than anticipated, there has been a lot more to see than other shows we've attended.”
Delighted by the volume and quality of visitors, many exhibitors commented on how busy the first day was. The new Jewellery & Watch space in MODA attracted huge interest.
Jo McLenaghan, from jewellery business iXXXi said; “This is our first time in MODA and by noon we had already seen more 100 new contacts and have placed 5 new stockists throughout the UK. Retailers are loving our comprehensive menswear jewellery collection and concept of endless switching with ladies rings and jewellery.”
Tom Betts from My Doris added: “Super busy morning! It feels the busiest show with have done since the pandemic. It is also great to see wider variety of international brands exhibiting.”
As part of its ongoing strategy to deliver educational and inspiring content, the Inspiring Retail Stage presented a host of talks on sustainability.
In the opening panel What is the Future for Sustainable Retail?, Helena Mansell-Stopher from Autumn Fair’s sustainability partner Products of Change was joined by Futurist Tom Savigar and Georgia Bell, Sales and Marketing Manager of Co-cre8 / Honest, to discuss the future of sustainability, unlocking the value of waste, embracing ESG values and the new definitions of retailing. Mansell-Stopher said: “We’re in one of the most evolutionary times, some say we’ve started the 4th industrial revolution.” Savigar stated that when he advises retailers on their sustainability strategy he changes their definition of retailing, “away from selling product to guiding choice, becoming a service business not a retailer so it’s not about the money as a metric for success.” They continued to discuss sustainability as better for business, offering a competitive advantage as consumers push for responsibly sourced goods, adding that communication is key. Savigar suggested resetting the speed of getting ‘sustainability’ communications out to the consumer to ensure the facts are correct, saying that “story doing not story telling”, is better for business.
Facing the Future: The Benefits of Sustainable Retail, saw Francisca Sassetti, Responsible Sourcing Consultant at SEDEX explore the benefits of sustainable retail and how sustainability is impactful across every aspect from business, from own practices to suppliers and beyond. Francisca took the audience through tools businesses large and small can implement practices that prioritise sustainability. From mapping out high-risk areas in supply chains whether it be waste, emissions or human rights issues, to opening peer-to-peer conversations and conversations with consumers for optimum transparency. The talk highlighted the importance of communication through all pillars of the sustainable journey, from visibility in the supply chain, introspective reviews of business policies, and how these expectations are embedded through suppliers and partners before being portrayed to consumers.
Sara Collins took to the Inspiring Retail Stage in conversation with Rae Adam, Founder of FWP by Rae for Sourcing Ethical Suppliers that are right for your Business. Sara and Rae discussed the journey of sourcing ethical manufacturers and suppliers, from choosing the right one for your business, building relationships, and managing expectations. Collins said: “Small businesses often think they need to do everything perfectly, but it’s not about right now, it’s about building continuum and trust between suppliers, and consumers. If you and your suppliers are working to the same goal, that’s the sweet spot. Build respect, manufacturers are an extension of your team, you have to work as partners.”
Day two will offer another packed schedule of talks and panels including trend presentations from TrendBible and Promostyl, as well as the launch of Hyve’s new responsible sourcing show Source Home & Gift taking place from 5-7pm on the Inspiring Retail Stage and featuring drinks and dancing.
Autumn Fair takes place until Wednesday 7th September 2022 at NEC Birmingham. For further information and to register at https://www.autumnfair.com/visitor-registration.