This September over 1,400 home and gift retailers will be descending upon Birmingham's NEC for another seasonal sensation. ToyNews speaks to Naomi Barton, portfolio director of Autumn fair about what toy companies are exhibiting, what visitors can expect from the show and why it remains a vital date on the calendar.

Autumnwatch: Naomi Barton on why Autumn Fair is a toy industry must attend this year

How many companies will be exhibiting in the Children’s Gifts, Toys and Gadgets hall?

We have over one hundred companies exhibiting in this sector of Autumn Fair this year. We have a great number of new companies launching their ranges at the show for both this year and 2017.

The show presents a great opportunity for attendees to meet with current, as well as potential new, suppliers. We have some big name toy companies attending this year too, including H. Grossman, Keel Toys, Creative Models, Paul Lamond Games, TY UK, Great Gizmos and Melissa and Doug. 

What new elements will we find at this year’s show?

We have plenty of new components to the show, including a Meet the Experts panel, comprising of a line-up of industry names who will host retail clinics tackling the challenges that they face in their own businesses.

We are also introducing a new initiative in partnership with The British Independent Retailers Association and BHETA, as well as a host of new speakers to ramp up the buying experience by offering free seminars focusing on key topics around ecommerce. 

How have you seen the show grow over the last few years?

Autumn Fair has really grown and developed in line with the changes in seasonal buying patterns. 

In addition to the trend of in-season buying and stock for Christmas, multiples are using the fair to connect with suppliers even earlier than in previous years and seem to be planning from further ahead in the year.

Emphasising the fresh offering at Autumn Fair this year, there are over 200 brands across 12 show sectors who exhibit solely at the autumn edition, all in line with the current change in buying trends.

With this slate of exhibitors lined up, it looks to be a busy show. 

What does the show have to offer toy industry folk?

Buyers know that Autumn Fair is the only trade show in the season where they can see such a wide array of exhibitors in one place. 

Also, with retailers buying closer to the season, we understand that 84 per cent of toy orders are placed in Q4, further legitimising the importance of the Autumn Fair date line. 

How has the show evolved and how have you seen the toy sector embrace it over the years?

The show has evolved hugely to become an ever-more important date in the season’s calendar. 

Content, seminars and speakers have also evolved in line with the changes in buying and consumer patterns, hence the new additions. The toy sector in particular has grown over the last two years with a noticeable difference in the number of exhibitors and the types of products they are bringing.

How does the show reflect current trends and habits?

Toy trends have changed and have seemingly steered away from lower priced products, with buyers more focused on looking for contemporary toy products and many looking for wooden toys in particular. It is a necessary date in the calendar for toy buyers to see everything in one place, both short and long lead offerings.

Licences and brands such as LEGO were key for last year’s show and we expect to see this trend continue into this season. 

What does the future hold for the show?

With more buyers looking for product in the Autumn Season and the multiples working further ahead than they have previously, this only further legitimises the importance of Autumn Fair, cementing it as the number one home and gift trade show.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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