Good stuff first: the show was well planned, well dressed and well promoted. There was a strong spread of exhibitors, and plenty of worthwhile new products. And the visitor numbers were on a par with those achieved before the show left London in 2009.
Bad stuff next: it's a tough market, and exhibitor numbers were down - including some of industry's major names. Hall 16 is a venue of limited appeal. The signposting to the show from the rest of the NEC wasn't so much atrocious, as simply absent; 'atrocious' would have been an improvement. The weather... well, the weather is always a risk factor at this time of year.
But worst of all, the many benefits that were meant to come from the move to Birmingham have been whittled away. 2010 saw Totally DIY in the main exhibition complex with a direct crossover point to the adjacent hall in the Spring Fair - and visitor numbers trebled from 3,000 to 9,000. The 2011 show was still in the main complex, but with no crossover point - and visitor numbers fell by a third. In 2012 we in the DIY industry have seen 'our' show moved to a building which happens to be on the same site as a nearby and much larger building in which another and much larger show happens to be taking place at the same time - and visitor numbers have halved.
None of this amounts to a criticism of Brintex, the Totally DIY organisers; the weaknesses of the 2012 show are not of their making. But once bitten, twice shy - and in this case, several times bitten and several more times shy. Britain's DIY industry deserves a show that reflects its strengths and that creates new commercial opportunities, and the Brintex team have shown over the years that they are more than capable of delivering that show. But the relationship between Spring Fair and Totally DIY so far hasn't been a productive one for DIY suppliers or buyers. We hope the two sides can agree a more effective approach for 2013, and produce the show the industry deserves.
10 February 2012 | 18:18 |