November is a busy month for the STAG Buying Group as they prepare for their 2017 Winter Buying Shows. The Ireland show is being held in The Heritage Killenard, County Laois, on November 7-8, with doors opening from 2pm-7pm on the Tuesday and 9am-4pm the following day.
STAG Buying Group began in 1987 and is now the largest membership-buying group in the UK and Ireland for independent sport/outdoor, shoe, corporate, promotional and team wear businesses. They currently have 400 (550 outlets) members.
STAG has 150 world-leading suppliers available to its members. In addition to that, it offers a large range of support services aimed at reducing retailer’s overheads, such as stock management/ EPOS systems, credit and debit card rates, courier rates, phone and fuel cost reductions.
The UK winter show is being held at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel, South Cerney, on November 19-20. The doors open from 9am to 6pm on the Sunday and from 9am to 4pm on Monday.
Ricky Chandler, STAG joint MD, said: “We always really look forward to the shows, even all of the preparation that goes into them. It is a great way to engage with our members and suppliers. We all get involved in speaking to members about attending the shows. We like to send out packs to the members prior to the shows with floor layouts, show deals and news on the exhibitors.”
For 2017, there will be over 20 exhibitors at the Ireland show, and 50 exhibitors at the UK show.There will also be presentations set up by individual brands for members to attend to view new A/W ranges with supporting marketing activity.
In their 30th anniversary year, STAG have a lot of experience in putting on their shows and if it isn’t broken then there is no need to fix it.
Chandler added: “There are no changes to this year’s shows, it is an incredibly easy format for our members and exhibitors to follow to ensure the emphasis is on buying and business.”
With the advance in technology and the rise of the web some have argued that the need for trade shows is on the wane.
However, Chandler believes the relevance of the shows is as strong today as it ever was.
He said: “Whilst the digital age means we can have immediate access to information, updates and brand activity you do still need to meet in person to communicate and understand what is going on in the trade. The shows are a great way for both retailers and suppliers to see a wide range of businesses and to see what is working, and what can be improved upon.”
But not only that, Chandler thinks that shows also provide a support network for the trade.
He added: “We all know that trading is never easy and it sometimes can feel like a lonely business. The STAG shows enable retailers to meet up and look at different brands together, discuss difficulties but also share success stories too. This can only have a positive impact. For the brands, it is a great way to see many retailers over two days whilst showing their new ranges off in the best possible way to express their brand message.” The market is always changing and that has its ups and downs, but for Chandler there are more positives than negatives.
He added: “It is always sad to see long established businesses come to an end due to retirement. But what is so positive is the new businesses that are coming through too, that are energised and ready to get stuck in. Whilst online is so important you cannot beat the customer service that our incredible independent businesses offer in the trade.” A difficult marketplace has seen bricks-and-mortar stores becoming more specialised in the service they offer.
Chandler said: “This is a theme that has been increasing for the past few years. Retailers are honing in on their expertise and provide specialised categories to their consumers.”
But all retailers and business have had to suffer the fall out from Brexit and the fluctuations in sterling. Chandler added: “The biggest effect of Brexit has been on price increases and how it has affected the exchange rates.
“Whilst there is uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the power of the internet, we must remain positive. People love playing sport, being in the outdoors, children will always need school wear and we always want good customer service. So we must work together to keep our trade busy.”
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, and what trends may be coming to the fore, Chandler said: “Running remains the biggest category but seeing more sales in apparel, accessories and the tri market. Teamwear remains strong with clubs going through their retailers instead of direct to brands once they realise the effort and work involved in teamwear.”
This year’s shows will see new brands Ledlenser, Fila, Sergio Tacchini, CEP Sports, Fit Dist Sports, Ful, Oofos, HJ Hall Socks and Skins attending. While guest exhibitors include Vibram, Makura and MTS Sport.