Autumn Fair preview

Autumn Fair is fast becoming a key date for the calendar, with a growing number of toy companies exhibiting and an increased focus on our industry during the show. Katie Roberts found out about this year's plans?
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The annual Autumn Fair at the NEC, Birmingham, is renowned for being one of the biggest shows of the year. The exhibition covers a total of nine sectors and is dubbed by organisers, EMAP, as the ‘first opportunity of the season to view and secure new product launches and preview for spring 2012’.

Traditionally the number of toy exhibitors appearing at the show was a little on the small side, but over the last few years, the toy area of the event has been growing at quite a pace. And this year some 140 suppliers will make up the toy and gadget sector, including ten new companies for 2011.

Greg Saint, event director, believes there are a number of reasons behind the growth: “Many toy suppliers either have traditionally had ranges that lend themselves to the wider gift market or increasingly, other suppliers are developing product ranges that are attractive to both the toy and gift retailer. Also at Autumn Fair, many of those buyers that attend do so to specifically place orders for goods to be delivered immediately, giving suppliers an immediate return on their investment.”

New exhibitors include Happy Secrets, Adventures of Robob and Melrose Kids, joining long-standing exhibitors like Paul Lamond Games, Esdevium Games, The In Thing, Cartamundi and Hippychick among others. Also new this year are a number of international exhibitors, such as Handelhaus Legler, Kidkraft and Daydream Kids.

The expanding overseas presence is something the organisers have been working to encourage.
Saint comments: “Both our UK and overseas marketing spend has increased over the last three years. Our various overseas agents are reporting increased interest from suppliers looking to expand into both the UK toy and gift markets.”

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Alongside toys and gadgets and within hall five, a new hobby and craft sector will also be introduced this year, in a 500 sqm area. The new sector is designed to further ‘maximise cross-over buying opportunities’.

Expanding the toy and gadget section this year is the toy demo area, which was debuted earlier in the year at sister show, Spring Fair.

Saint tells ToyNews: “Following the successful launch of the toy demonstration area at Spring Fair 2011, we decided to build the content further for Autumn Fair. There are more individual companies demonstrating than at Spring Fair, with our headline sponsor Bladez Toyz, demonstrating daily.

“The demonstration area also incorporates companies exhibiting in our new section, hobby and craft, which will provide added interest for both toy and gift buyers alike.”

So there is no doubt that extra investment and importance is being placed on the toy area of Autumn Fair, but what other benefits will toy retailers find at the NEC?

“The toy retailer has both the opportunity to buy new products available now, as well as in some supplier instances preview products that will be available into next year,” explains Saint. “They will also be able to cross-over to other product sectors of the fair, to source the non-toy product they also stock in their business which complements their main product offerings.”

Autumn Fair takes place from Sunday September 4th to Wednesday September 7th, 2011 at the NEC, Birmingham. Volume hall opens one day early.
To register, and for more details, please visit



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