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LIWF takes new direction in 2014

Ross Carter, London International Wine Fair event director, has announced a new direction for the fair in 2014. The changes are a result of several months lobbying the UK wine industry – including current and past exhibitors – to establish their requirements for a national show.

The changes will see the show go back to its roots as the ‘London Wine Fair’, the national wine event for the world’s leading import market; essentially, Britain’s festival of wine. As part of the changes, the London Wine Fair 2014 will return to London’s Olympia. The event moved to ExCeL in 2001.

Carter acknowledged that the fair needs to make a “cultural change” to the way exhibitors take part and visitors experience the show.  Carter pointed out that, “While the new venue and name are important changes for next year, what is really core to making 2014 a success is value and relevance.”

In 2014 the Fair will launch two new areas of the event, designed to better reflect the current UK wine business. Bulk wine will have its own stand-alone section, with bespoke branding; and boutique wine will be an area for small UK wine importers. This table top tasting area will be open only to the smallest UK importers, with participation costing just £1,000 for the three days of the event. This will encourage niche importers, representing hard-to-find producers into the Fair.

With increasingly tough economic trading conditions, the issue of cost has been high on the list of exhibitor concerns.  For 2014, there will be a 20-25% decrease on the 2012 price for stand space.  Perhaps most significantly, there will be an overall stand restriction, meaning no double height stands, no banners and a maximum floor space. This will help to make the show a more level playing field and also remove the sense that stands have to be big and expensive to be eye-catching. Carter is confident that exhibitors will spend between 50% and 60% of costs in previous years.

The process of revamping features at the Wine Fair is already underway for this month’s event.  Next year’s fair will also see masterclasses and industry briefings delivered by leading voices in the trade. Key industry issues will be addressed and representatives from production, logistics, importation and government asked to debate the subjects that are changing the wine business. Workshops will be introduced that address the everyday needs and issues of on-trade and independent retail professionals – the key audience for 2014 – covering effective buying, stock management, supplier relations and credit control.  

The fair will partner with Wine Intelligence to deliver a ‘State of the Nation’ document which will offer valuable category insight into the Multiple and Independent retail sectors and on-trade. “This research will be in-depth, invaluable and available only to LWF visitors,” says Carter.

Exhibiting and visiting the fair from 2014 will require all participants to be members of MyWineFair. Launched earlier this year for 2013, this online portal aims to help visitors by providing details about all the exhibitors and their wines.

Through the development of the bottleneck collar scheme the fair will continue to provide a clear and effective method of classifying the wines on offer to visitors. Channel strategy is of increasing importance to the wine business and the fair will continue to provide the focus that buyers require.

The LIWF is also committed to improving the quality of audience, which is already underway for 2013.  2014 will see the LIWF invest over £40,000 in visitor incentives, specifically to attract buyers from the on-trade, independent retail and multiple retail sectors.  These will take the form of: travel and accommodation bursaries; channel-specific lunches; free evening social events for specific buyers; and competitions and giveaways in partnerships with select exhibitors. For the more general visitor, benefits will include an increased breadth of exhibitor, improved content, invitations to wine events and study bursaries and a great emphasis on socialising.

Catering – something which has been much maligned in previous years – will reflect the needs of the visitor and exhibitor with specialist on-site delicatessens. To build a sense of community in and around Olympia, there will be restaurant and bar partnerships offering corkage and dining deals to allow exhibitors to entertain guests with their own wine, inexpensively. There will also be an industry annual event – something that will be the highlight of the wine trade social calendar.

Finally, on the move to London’s Olympia next year, Carter acknowledged: “There has been much speculation over a possible venue change for next year’s show, and we are pleased to now be able to announce the move back to Olympia. 

“We have listened to both current and past exhibitors and also our visitor audience and the majority consensus is that this will be a better venue. Moving to Olympia will mean a refreshed show, and a sense of returning to its roots. Olympia will allow for the reduction in costs we have outlined and also faster travel times for exhibitors and visitors coming in from Heathrow and Gatwick and for UK trade professionals.  Being in Kensington will be an opportunity to build a sense of community around the show and we will partner with leading local restaurants, bars and venues to provide entertaining choices to both exhibitor and visitor.”

Next year’s London Wine Fair will take place slightly later in the year, from week commencing 2nd June 2014.  This will be the 34th London Wine Fair.

8 May 2013 - Felicity Murray