In the quaint and picturesque Northamptonshire village of Whittlebury, the second annual Merchandise World was held at the exhibition center at the prestigious Silverstone Racetrack, which is the iconic building that also houses the pits for British Formula 1 Grand Prix.
With two full show days from January 31-February 1, 1,019 visitors met the 172 exhibitors as the show organizers – the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) and Sourcing City (SC) – implemented a strict visitor policy to ensure only quality professional distributors were admitted to meet with suppliers. A high number of business leaders, together with their front-line teams, attended to see the latest and hottest promotional products for the coming year, as well as to discover the Merchandise World Promotional Product Award winners.
“The show was undeniably the best and most successful show at which we have exhibited,” said Gareth Sampson, managing director, Trade Lanyards Ltd. “The quality of exhibitor and visitor was superb and Merchandise World continues to go from strength to strength, and it’s now firmly established as the show not to miss. The speakers were fascinating and the networking evening was fantastic. It’s a great forum for serious suppliers and distributors to get together and talk business in a relaxed and social environment. As much business was done at the networking event as on the floor of the show. We, like most exhibitors, have already booked up for the next two shows and cannot wait.”
The day prior to the start of the show, BPMA hosted a full day of Education Sessions on a variety of topics such as using the personality traits of buyers to be more successful when selling, how to make more sales via cold-calling, effective networking strategies and how to engage millennials. Two standout sessions included the keynote presentation on trends in the North American promo market from ASI’s president and CEO Tim Andrews and a spirited panel discussion on hot topics affecting the U.K. market, led by BMPA director general Gordon Glenister.
“Merchandise World brought together the very best the U.K. has to offer in suppliers and distributors,” said Chris Lee, managing director of top global distributor Brand Addition and Counselor’s International Person of the Year in 2013, who took part in the panel discussion. “Over 30 Brand Addition team members attended the show and returned enthused about the interactions with our suppliers. Add to this some great speakers at the Education Day and seeing our friends from ASI made the whole event a huge success.”
Glenister noted that BPMA’s partnership with Sourcing City has never been stronger and the reaction from the U.K. promotional products industry was very positive. “We’re delighted to have created Merchandise World as a joint venture with the BPMA,” said David Long, founder and chairman of Sourcing City. “Our team always aims to deliver a great experience for top industry distributors and suppliers, and we’re focussed on creating a unique event that brings true value to everyone’s business.”
Richard Pettinger, of Ignite Incentives Group commented: “Merchandise World … is now clearly the premier industry show in the U.K. It was so good to see all the top suppliers coming together and fantastic to see the response from quality visitors turning out in large numbers and bringing so many of their sales teams. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of the top distributor companies in one place. Coupling that with some really interesting seminars, and we had a magnificent new addition to the calendar. Well done to all involved for superb organization.”
Merchandise World is jointly owned by the BPMA and Sourcing City following the merger of The BPMA Show and Sourcing City Marketplace in 2017. Professional distributors are invited regardless of whether they’re BPMA or SC customers. And while sales in the U.K. promotional market are in excess of £1billion ($1.38 billion USD), the distributors in attendance at the recent show accounted for £549 million ($758 million USD) in sales, or 54% of the total U.K. promo market sales.
According to Glenister, Merchandise World is held twice a year in two key seasons: January (The New Year) and September (The Peak Season), “which are the perfect times for professional distributors to see new products, to be reminded of top sellers, to discuss trading plans and to discover new opportunities,” he said. For more information go to www.merchandiseworld.co.uk.