Comment – Wehring's Way – The London International Wine Fair is Dead, Long Live the London Wine Fair
The London International Wine Fair becomes the London Wine Fair in 2014
As the curtain came down on the London International Wine Fair, not only for this year, but forever, on Wednesday, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness: No more would I have to wend my way to the veritable desert of East London. Next year, we'll be drawn to the bright lights of the centre of town for the re-named London Wine Fair. Farewell ExCeL exhibition centre, adieu 'International'.
Physically, this year's show differed wildly from previous exhibitions. Put simply, it was quite a bit smaller: One exec I spoke to likened the hall to the trash-compactor scene in Star Wars. And, with only one double-decker stand, the whole thing felt shorter as well as smaller.
The atmosphere, however, ran the gamut of emotions over the three days.
The Monday - day one - was dominated by a pessimistic feel, with many attendees taken aback at how far this once great event had fallen, size-wise. This was brought home to me at the end of the day: whereas a pint at the nearest pub to the exhibition hall would usually require a 20-minute wait at the bar, the staff almost outnumbered the punters.
Day two, however, took on a far more realistic air, with exhibitors seemingly keen to play the best hand they could with the cards they'd been dealt. Evenso, the feedback I'd heard from those on the stands was that they were actually benefiting from the boutique-y feel, gaining more share of ear than they would normally.
And so, come the end of the fair yesterday, everyone seemed somewhat optimistic about the exhibition's future. Numbers of exhibitors and attendees were both down, doubtlessly, but those that were showing their wares on the smaller stands seemed busier than in previous years, while the larger exhibitors felt less impenetrable to the likes of, well, me.
So, while this week's event had a “Let's get this over with” feel about it, as the aforementioned curtains closed on ExCeL, it felt like the London (International) Wine Fair has been overdue a revamp. And, with everyone aware of what next year's show has in store, the only way should be up for a trade fair that had had its day at ExCeL.
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