Spring & Autumn Fair, sponsor of the 2022 GCA Conference and AGM have been specialising in trade fairs for over 70 years. We asked Daniel Mayhew to give us the lowdown….
How long have you been a GCA Member?
According to records held at the GCA, Spring & Autumn Fair have been GCA members for over 20 years. The GCA has been working for the greeting card industry since 1919, and Spring Fair started trading over 70 years ago and Autumn Fair over 30 years ago, so we very well may have joined earlier. We should start digging the paper archives in the ‘vault’ and find out!
What services do you provide that would be of interest to GCA members?
At Hyve, we run the largest retail trade shows/exhibitions in the industry, across Home & Gift, Fashion, Sourcing and across the Garden sector. The scale and breadth of our shows offer huge opportunities for companies and publishers of all sizes, large and small.
The events are run to serve the needs of the industry and we are offer an unrivalled platform. It’s where collaboration and relationships are formed, the buzz created at the shows is fantastic to be part of. We celebrate newness and innovation, and this is a large driver for buyers to attend.
It’s a competitive market out there, which is why being visible and active at trade shows like Spring & Autumn Fair is so integral and important to many companies marketing campaigns and business plans. We are always investing and innovating, which is reflected on our show floor through the Inspiring Retail Stage, the Power of One feature in partnership with Products of Change (more on that later), the New Product, Giftware Association – Gift of the Year and Sustainability showcases. Oh and if you look to Fashion for inspiration for your designs and trends, you can also check out the MODA Catwalk! We are the trusted platform for hundreds of Greetings & Stationery and Party suppliers and welcome new brands to launch with us.
We are proud to have the GCA Debut area, crafted for smaller designer markers and publishers to join us at the show. The opportunity to be amongst leading, established brands is invaluable and the crossover opportunities from across the whole show are vast, nearly every retailer stocks greeting cards, which is why the shows are so exciting. It’s when the whole industry comes together and our knowledgeable, personable team really do enjoy being part of your journey, no matter where you are. Remember, every brand started somewhere, even our largest exhibitors started small!
Are there any innovations in your field that you want to share?
What I love about Spring & Autumn Fair is that you are always surprised and impressed by the creativity and innovation in design. It is where new trends are showcased and marketed.
I come from a graphic design background and my first design role fresh from university was working for Hallmark cards in the small London Studio. I learnt about embossing, die cuts, creative folds and this showed me how much creativity, passion and skills goes into designing and creating cards. It was when I visited the former headquarters in Bradford (sold in 2018) that I saw the real scale of the industry and design, and when I visited Spring Fair (never knowing what I’d be doing now) I was amazed by the breadth of design and talent. It’s still a huge feast for the eyes.
The greeting card industry has embraced technology in terms of print production, quality, speed, being able to print onto wood (nice keepsakes) embed seeds into paper and is one of the most reactive markets out there. If something funny, moving, controversial happens in the world, a new greeting card can be online and in the shops in a matter of days. With all the developments in the industry, technology and how business can get done, we aren’t resting on our laurels either and are launching Connect @ Autumn Fair.
Connect @ Autumn Fair will transform how the retail community connect and do business via facilitated meetings. Buyers discover the brands and products their businesses need, and suppliers can create leads, orders and opportunities in an incredibly efficient and effective way. As we are the ‘shop for shops’ and your exhibition stand is where your brand comes to life, all the prescheduled meetings are on your stand. Never before have suppliers been able to search for retailers and buyers by geographical area and profile ahead of the show, so much is based on serendipity, and this is the real game changer to modernise and transform how business can be done.
What’s key is that over the years, we have embraced technology across websites and apps in our daily lives both personally, professionally and in business, admittedly some initially with resistance, some with now knowing the benefits, but we are all largely adoptive of making our lives easier and smarter. Never before, in over 30 years has Autumn Fair had this level of investment and I’m proud that we are launching this programme to further and smartly connect the retail trade industry.
Who would you like to meet at the GCA Conference?
The team are very excited to be attending this year, myself and Daniel Goodban cannot make it this year as we are away but am pleased to say that Yvette Marshall and James Ambrose will be there to meet as many people from the industry as possible. The highlight from last year was that our Marketing Manager, Lucy Green started chatting to a lady in the queue for lunch, discussing what the vegan options could be. This lady was Helena Mansell-Stopher from Products of Change, from this they swapped cards and throughout 2021/22 we continued the conversation and explored ways in which we could work together. I’m super proud that a simple ‘how do you do’ turned into a partnership with POC supporting our Power of One, sustainability campaign and feature at Autumn Fair. This is now an ongoing partnership and we will evolve how we work together, bringing together our communities old and new at Spring Fair. Both Yvette and James love to network at events (and awards) and are open to starting a how do you do with anyone attending. Spring & Autumn Fair celebrate brands of every size, of every age and like I said above, even our largest exhibitors to date started smaller and many have grown their presence and network with us year on year, so let’s see how we can work together to be part of your journey.