Spring Fair, the UK’s largest and most inspirational retail marketplace for Home, Gift and Fashion, closed on a high after four days of intensive buying, creativity and fun, and now looks ahead to its 75thanniversary in 2025.

Jackson Szabo, Portfolio Director, Spring Fair said, “I have been blown away by the energy, passion and community at Spring Fair during the last four days. The feedback and stories from buyers, exhibitors, and partners have highlighted just how integral this show is to the retail calendar. As well as the day job of buying, it enables the retail industry to come alive with inspiration, innovation, knowledge and networking. All of our new experiences and activations across the show floor, and the awe-inspiring content on the three stages, have been very well received and I’ve also loved the sense of fun our exhibitors bring – I’ve seen people dressed as sheep, sharks, dogs, naughty elves, and of course Peppa Pig!

We’re now very excited to look forward to 2025 as we celebrate 75 years as the Home, Gift and Fashion industry’s most established and inventive buying show.”

Many exhibitors were celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, and were all hand delivered a birthday cake from Spring Fair organisers Hyve. Lotus Imports celebrates 60years, Verma Enterprises is 40, Enesco and Garden Trading are 30, Talking Tables celebrate 25 years, Laura Darrington Designs hit 20, Berni Parker Designs celebrates its 15th year, and Academie, Raspberry Blossom, Tache, Louise Tiler, Pickmotion, and Rush Design all reached double figures.

From Sunday to Wednesday, the UK’s longest serving retail show attracted thousands of buyers from retailers including John Lewis, Asda, Fortnum & Mason, Tesco, Aldi UK, Elphicks, Cards Galore, Costcutter, TK Maxx, Mint Velvet, RAF association, NEXT, World Duty Free, Squirrels UK, Yarnton Home and Garden, Claire’s Accessories, Willows Activity Farm, Smiffy’s, Clintons, Macmillan, Wayfair, Harrods, National Trust, Blue Diamond, Fenwick, Laura Ashley, Merlin Entertainment, WHSmith, RSPCA, Warner Bros, TJX Europe, Creaseys, Hallmark, Card Factory, B&Q, Costco, Natural History Museum, and Dobbies Garden Centre, Denby Retail, McElhinneys, and many more, all sourcing for new products and looking for the competitive edge.

Sue Waterhouse, Mia James Interiors said, “The show is beautiful. I’ve seen some fabulous new products, and some new accounts opened.”

Tracy Finch from Aurora Jewellery said, “Great experience, overwhelmed with so many great stands. First visit so will definitely spend more time to look around next year.”

The buying team from Northumbrian Water said, “Spring Fair is inspirational and varied – it sets your mind for the rest of the year. We also love the human element to it, the background stories of all the businesses.”

Kate Grindal, Retail Manager, Cadw said “Great to see many of our existing suppliers returning this year, it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up in one day.”

Tina Vaudin, Buyer, Creaseys said, “Spring Fair is a yearly staple in my diary.”

The licensing business delivered a big impact on the show floor with thousands of trend-led licensed products including gifts, collectables, toys, clothing, beauty and housewares.

Some of the exhibitors who brought their licensed products to life at the show include Widdop & Co, Captivate Brands, Pure Tabletop, Riva Home, TY UK, Whitehouse Leisure, Fizz Creations, Paladone, Sting in the Tale, Half Moon Bay, Lasgo, Star Images Enterprise, Blue Sky Studios, The English Ladies Co, Heroes Inc, Rock Off Retail, The Source Wholesale, The Carat Shop, Infinity Brands, Enesco, Pyramid International, Spike Leisurewear, Heathcote & Ivory and The English Soap Company.

Stephen Illingworth, Director, Widdop & Co said, “Spring Fair 2024 has been great with such a refreshing buzz, and it has re-emphasised its role as the biggest, best and only show in the UK for exhibitors and visitors alike to source the greatest range of all products to kick start the year!”

Feedback throughout the show indicated high quality footfall, new customers, and a buzzing atmosphere, with many exhibitors reporting their best show ever.

Simon Pykett, Country Manager, Bloomingville said, “It’s Bloomingville’s third year at Spring Fair, the first year was a phenomenal success, the second year was not quite as good but still very very good, but this year we’ve broken all records. The first day was good, the second day was absolutely out of this world, and today has also been good. We’re really hot on textiles at the show, along with vases and ceramics. Almost all of our orders are new clients which is perfect for us which is why we come.”

Richard Keel, Managing Director of Keel Toys said, “The footfall and orders across Sunday and Monday have been really good, we have opened a high number of new accounts. We are still smiling and have confirmed for Autumn Fair and Spring Fair for 2024/25.”

James Brindle, Sales Director at Fallen Fruits said, “The number of buyers who have visited us this year has been a lot better than last season, which is positive from our side because we have a lot more products to show. We are using the show as the launchpad for our new solar light brand Lumiz which we have brought here for the first time and as it has been extremely well received into the market. The show is so important as a launchpad because we have lots of different categories but also because we have a yearly cycle, we have an Autumn/Winter range and then we have our main core garden sundries for Spring Fair, so the show is perfect. We have been really surprised by the amount of new customers but we have also seen dormant customers returning to us this season.”

#SBS Village exhibitor and Pitch Live Gift winner Sally Deer from Ducky Zebra commented on how beneficial the Pitch Live experience has been to her business, “Winning Pitch Live is a huge achievement and I’m really happy. I have opened up 10-year accounts and I have also got several new genuine connections and leads so I am absolutely buzzing! These accounts range from children’s retailers who are experienced at buying childrenswear, but also very successful gifting shops, who have never tried baby clothes but saw our range and love it so much they decided to introduce it as a product type, which is exciting.”

Tom Willday, Willsow said, “It has been great, there is good footfall and we are enjoying lots of positivity at the show. We have launched our first licensed book “Shaun the Sheep ” and are displaying our new plantable calendars which we have had brilliant feedback on. Everyone loved our children’s product and wanted a more adult concept so we created it!”

Lauren Rooney, Hootyballoo by Club Green said, “We have had a really positive experience and lots of good feedback over the last few days. We are showing 10 new ranges and there has been an excitement in our buyers.”

Tracey Colliston, Owner, Ginger Betty said “The show has been really busy, there has been a good mix of international and UK buyers.  From independents to larger distributors. There has been a really positive, exciting vibe and it’s been really enjoyable.”

Jo Clarke, Owner and Creative Director, Toasted Crumpet said, “It’s been a really fantastic show, the busiest to date. A lot of our new product lines and ranges have had really good feedback. Our new product ‘Blanc’ has been particularly popular.”

Katherine Ebbs, UK Sales Manager, Joypots said, “This is the busiest Spring Fair since before Covid! There’s been a good steady flow of great quality buyers during the course of the show and the environment is friendly with good vibes. Giving free teas and coffees to exhibitors is a lovely touch.”

Sean Johnson, General Manager, Quay Traders said, “We come to Spring Fair due to the variety of buyers, from independents to the big stores we all dream of. There has been a buzzing atmosphere with lots of new clients and there are lots of smiling faces.”

Katherine Khangurra, Owner, Libra Fine Arts (#SBS Village) said, “It’s been a fantastic experience at Spring Fair. We’ve met some wonderful potential stockists, and made connections that will last a long time.”

Bella from Bella Rosa Sticker Books said “Spring Fair has been a fantastic ‘spring’ board for us a small, independent family run business. The opportunities for showcasing our products, networking, advertising, meeting potential buyers and generating leads have been plentiful! Communication and planning with the event organisers, Hyve has been seamless. We shall look forward to this exciting year ahead and will be sure to return for Spring Fair 2025!”

Innovative content partnerships with TikTok Shop, Google, and The Future Collective drew captivated crowds with an appetite to discover the next key trends and technologies impacting the retail sector. Delivering insights on topics ranging from AI and digital retail to conscious consumerism and licensing, and welcoming industry stalwarts such as Theo Paphitis, Spring Fair’s three new stages offered its most comprehensive schedule to date, across all four days all completely free to attend for all visitors.

Ginny Major, eCommerce Home & Living Category Manager, TikTok Shop Global said “Collaborating with Spring Fair has been essential in educating the industry about the value of TikTok Shop and the future of social commerce. We’ve made connections with so many remarkable businesses and eagerly await returning for Autumn Fair.”

The line-up for the final day included a fireside chat with British fashion and textile designer and pioneer Dame Zandra Rhodes, more masterclasses covering creator collaborations, talent retention, customer reviews and AI on the Masterclass Studio in partnership with TikTok Shop; and an all-day trend takeover from The Future Collective on the Trend Talks stage. Retail Design For Better – For People, Planet & Business will welcome a host of exciting speakers presenting invaluable case studies on the principles of designing for better.

Dame Zandra Rhodes took to the Inspiring Retail Stage to a packed audience and talked through her journey in design with a career spanning over five decades. From launching her own collection of chiffon kaftans in 1969, opening her first store on Bond Street in 1977 to her many collaborations with the likes of Ikea and Happy Socks. Talking about her favourite collection Rhodes commented, “I loved my collections in the 70s with all the beautiful flowing chiffons. I have enjoyed the adventure into fashion and being involved in whole process of design.”

When asked what her stand out career moment was Rhodes said, “I really enjoyed dressing Freddie Mercury. He came to my studio in Bayswater in 1974. I put a white pleated top on him and told him to move around the room to see how he felt in it. This later became used in an iconic image that we still see everywhere today.”

Her thoughts on future of fashion, “I think the way the world is going, we have to think of everything being adjustable and use things in different way so they last. We can’t keep using the world’s resources. We need to treasure what we have and work with it.”

Offering advice to the visitors at Spring Fair, Rhodes said, “Never give up! The world might be changing so you hope we’d adapt to it. We have to take advantage of the opportunities that come along and run with it. You should always surround yourself with positive friends who encourage you to try new things and be experimental. It is better to aim for something and you might reach for the stars than regret it for the rest of your life.”

Inspiration continued on the Trend Talks stage championing pioneers shaping the retail industry’s future, as The Future Collective hosted the day’s sessions.

Opening the stage at 11am, The Future Collective’s Matt Parry and Kate Shepherd unpacked the core guiding principles of designing for better. Delving into the essence of design beyond aesthetics, and focusing on its potential to create positive change, they talked the audience through their top 10 guiding principles for incorporating empathy, responsibility, longevity, and collaboration to elevate design; making it a tool for social and environmental betterment.

Nick Reed, Founder of Neem London shared his story about the creation of his modern menswear brand, “Neem was created as an ‘antiseptic’ for fast fashion; to produce men’s clothing that has been made with care, a result of a transparent supply chain, with the safe guarding of our environment as the focus. Neem products last longer and when they are worn, can be returned and recycled.”

On the subject of fashion seasons he said, “’The consumer isn’t driving seasonality it’s the retailer that drives it. In fashion we expect seasons. If seasons aren’t forced on business, you aren’t forced to mark down. People panic because they only have a certain time to sell product.”

British design guru Nick Munro, whose exceptional achievements have been acknowledged with prestigious awards and coveted commissions, such as crafting silverware for the 2012 London Olympics and designing a teapot for HRH the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2013, and Ali Munro, unveiled their mission to enhance the air quality and energy efficiency of buildings – an inspiring step toward a healthier and more sustainable future.

In Retail Design for Better – Re-investing Fashion Waste Back into the Business, Barry Kane from Upcycle Labs presented how Upcycle Labs’ innovation in fashion waste and retail redundant store fittings have been openly embraced by leading fashion brands including Moncler, Dr Marten, and All Saints. Stock exits and customer returns can be shipped to their Euro Hub in Nottingham and 100% of the contents can be returned to the market as interior design goods, giftware, and new shop fittings without a fibre going to landfill or incineration. The revolutionary process provides a totally green solution to a massive worldwide problem.

The overarching ethos across the day’s sessions is how designing for better can be a force for good, influencing industries and societies worldwide, and harnessing creativity for a brighter future.

Spring Fair returns for its 75th edition from 2nd – 5th February 2025.

Autumn Fair 2024 takes place from 1st – 4th September at NEC Birmingham. Visit www.autumnfair.com for more information.

 

Share this story

February 2024 issue

2023 A1 Buyers Guide