Bold and busy Spring Fair 2019 champions sustainability and ethical sourcing

Over 2,000 exhibitors built relationships and signed deals with retails biggest players at Spring Fair 2019, as the industry continues to push to defy expectations.

Over 600 new exhibitors showcased their ranges to a growing number of top tier buyers, allowing them to get their hands on the products set to drive sales and profit throughout 2019’s major selling periods.

The show saw buyers attending from big-name, tier one brands, including the likes of M&S, Topshop, ASOS,, Liberty, The White Company, Wayfair, John Lewis and Selfridges.

“We had a constant flow of traffic throughout the day, from entry level retailers to high end luxury buyers. They loved our products, they had nothing other than wonderful things to say and most people placed orders on the spot,” commented John David Van Kirk, from exhibitor Art Brand Studios.

The quality of buyers attending the fair ensured strong results for both retailers and exhibitors alike, with more connections made and more quality products sourced than ever before. As a show of confidence in the sector as a whole, a significant number of exhibitors have already rebooked for 2020. 

Julie Driscoll, managing director, Spring & Autumn Fair, said: “In spite of a mixed Christmas trading period and continued Brexit uncertainty, Spring Fair 2019 has been an immense success. We’ve enabled more connections, more sales and helped forge deeper business relationships across our sectors. We’ve brought together thousands of buyers and exhibitors to prove that retail is indeed resilient, prepared and well-equipped in the face of the year ahead.

At the show, a leading line-up of the best and brightest from the industry took to the stage at the fair’s three live theatres. Speakers from Louis Vuitton, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Green and Blacks and Insider Trends all provided new ideas, insight and inspiration for the year ahead, focusing on topics including driving profit, ethical consumption, SEO and social media strategies. Buyers gained valuable market insights and updates on current trends that are driving consumer spending.

Throughout the event, visitors were able to explore the show’s expanded First showcases, designed to support unique and first-time exhibiting brands and spotlight the most individual and intriguing new businesses across specific sectors. TasteFirst, ToyFirst and NurseryFirst all debuted at the show alongside the returning FashionFirst and DesignFirst, which premiered at Autumn Fair 2018.

Helen Jones, from DesignFirst exhibitor Studio J1SY, commented: “I’ve been looking to get my artwork into galleries and in front of retailers so Spring Fair has been a valuable learning experience for me. I used to come to Spring Fair as a visitor and always wanted to have something to sell here. Being in the DesignFirst category has really helped me develop my brand, as well as give me a huge confidence boost. If it wasn’t for DesignFirst we wouldn’t be here.”

With sustainability high on the Spring Fair agenda, as well as the social consciousness of the public at large, retailers and buyers were encouraged to pledge their sustainable individual or business change as part of the event’s Power of One campaign. The initiative saw visitors and exhibitors commit to stopping the usage of single-use bottles and straws, cutting down on packaging, reusing shopping bags and more. Attendees sharing their pledges on social media alongside images of recycled furniture on display were awarded with a sustainable MyBento hydration bottle, donated by exhibitor Summit International.

The increased demand from retailers to identify and supply ethically-sourced and sustainable products was further confirmed with exhibitor launches of eco solutions on offer across the show in support of this growing trend.

To further the ethical discussions, visitors to the main stage on Sunday also had the opportunity to hear about the growing Power of One movement, from new Spring Fair managing director Julie Driscoll and broadcaster and fashion commentator Caryn Franklin MBE. They joined forces for a dedicated speaker session on the growing movement, summarising what the campaign means, and how retailers are embracing the philosophy.

Caryn tweeted ahead of the talk: “Thrilled to be #springautumnfair to make my #PowerofOne pledge. I’m talking about the power of each of us to commit to small changes so that collectively we can play a part on environmental justice.”

Talking about Spring Fair’s new sustainability commitments, Julie commented: “With this year’s show we really wanted to embrace growing consumer demand for a greater choice of sustainable and ethically sourced products, with a new commitment to supporting retailers and exhibitors who want to do more for the environment. Those retailers looking for products aligning with this trend were able to get their hands on new products from across the show which launched with this very trend in mind.”

Across key 2019 sectors, feedback was positive, with exhibitors reporting increased interest and strong footfall.

Katie Mann from Heaven Send’s Digital Marketing team said: “It’s the show that’s in everyone’s calendars; there’s great footfall, great travel links for attendees and it’s where we meet all our local, regional, national and international customers.”

Elaine Anderson of Bluebone said: “We launched 100 new products at Spring Fair which were very well received and we have had lots of orders placed. It’s very well attended and offers breadth and depth of products for home and gift sectors.”

Exhibitors have also been inspired to secure their space for next year’s show in response to the announcement of a major investment programme in Spring Fair, by new owners ITE Group Plc.

The first major re-edit of the show will see newly organised show sectors with a fresh look-and-feel, which will invigorate the way buyers source products and connect with exhibitors.

“The 2020 re-edit sets up two distinct sourcing destinations for retail buyers, making it easier than ever for visitors to locate the right suppliers for them and for exhibitors to generate more new custom,” Driscoll continues.

“We’ll continue to provide world-class content programmes that help the visitors and exhibitors differentiate, compete and succeed, as well as introduce new product categories and sector names to create fresh inspiration for exhibitors and visitors alike.”

For more Spring Fair 2019 highlights, visit the Spring Fair website:

Those looking ahead to Q3 2019 and beyond can book their place at Spring Fair’s partner show Autumn Fair now. The must-attend sourcing marketplace for the 2019 golden quarter is open for business between 1–4t September at Birmingham NEC. Prospective exhibitors can apply for their stands here: