STAG Buying Group are preparing for their Winter Buying Shows.
November will be a busy month with both the Ireland and the UK Winter Shows taking place.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, November 8-9, the Ireland Show takes place at the Heritage Resort, Killenard, County Laois. The doors open at 2pm on Tuesday and close at 7pm, while Wednesday sees an earlier start at 9am with a 4pm finish.
STAG are extremely experienced in holding their shows and have been in operation since 1987.
And over those years there have been some large changes within the industry. Ricky Chandler, STAG joint MD, has reflected on those changes, over the past decades.
He said: “Back in the late eighties there were lots of what were classed as regional sports chains, 30 in fact, including the likes of Gilesports, Terry Warner Sports and Hargreaves Sports.
“There were many other examples of these sorts of businesses throughout the UK and most of the stores commanded prime, high street, locations.
“Over many years all of these businesses were swallowed up by national chains or simply ceased to trade, it seemed that they were too large for a regional business but too small to become a dominant national chain.
“The growth of JJB, JD and Sports Direct followed very quickly. “The demise of JJB has now left the UK sports industry with chains consisting of SDI, JD and DW.
“During this period the independent sports trade has survived and thrived by specialising in certain sports categories, having technical product on offer and applying great customer service.
“In more recent times the growth of online sales has changed consumers’ buying habits massively and many independent and national operations now rely on this as additional income.
“I would think that the independent businesses’ ability to re-invent themselves, adapt to new consumer buying habits and to specialise would be the largest change that has had to be dealt with in recent years.
“The business acumen of the independent retailers has also massively improved.
“From the brands’ perspective, I would say that it is their willingness to consider sports businesses that are not necessarily located as traditional high street outlets but have very good businesses, say in team kits, back to school, embroidery or online where business premises may be located on industrial sites off the high street.”
The UK Winter Show is being held at the Cotswold Water Park Hotel, South Cerney, Cirencester.
The event begins on Sunday, November 20, with doors opening at 9am and closing at 6pm.
On the final day, Monday, the day begins at 9am and finishes at 4pm.
The shows have always proved popular and are firmly established as go-to events.
Chandler added: “Our shows have evolved over the years in such a way that we are an integral part of the sports industry calendar now.
“We have improved the location and quality of our venue. “We have worked closely with suppliers to promote their offers prior to the show and worked hard to promote a show that’s professional, rewarding and also fun in a relaxed atmosphere.
“We have seen buyers coming along in recent years fully prepared to take advantage of what’s on offer over the two days because we have shared lots of information with them prior to the show.
“Shows have to be worked properly and thoroughly if you want to get the rewards from it.
“After all we are all in this industry together. If we all do our bit it can work for us all for many years to come.”
The shows offer the chance for the group’s retail members to see multiple brands over the two days
To view new ranges easily and thoroughly and to take advantage of many show special offers.
A new opportunity for the members is to attend seminars that are targeted at improving their business.
Chandler said: “Another key advantage is for our members to network with other retailers and brands.
“This is often overlooked as people spend so much time in their own businesses, but it is important to consider new suppliers or new product categories.
“It is also good to take a little time out to relax after hours and socialise. “Everyone under one roof creates a brilliant atmosphere during and after the show.”
There are 50 suppliers exhibiting this year ranging from running, football, rugby, cricket, netball, hockey, racket sports, team wear, embroidery, shoes, lifestyle, outdoor and stock management, with virtually every category represented.
There is also a strong presence for running, rugby, swim and football but this year outdoor, team kits and field sports will also feature heavily.
Chandler added: “ All of our top suppliers exhibit at the show every year and we are extremely grateful for their ongoing support. “New suppliers that will be exhibiting for the first time are TYR, Inov-8, Hoka, Dita and Feet Space.”
The shows can be really beneficial to the trade and while improvements have been made over the years they haven’t changed that much.
Chandler said: “The format of our show has not changed in principal as it has consistently worked. “We have made improvements along the way to make it what it is today.
“We emphasis to our members that so much can be gained from working the show thoroughly and effectively that it really is a no-brainer to attend.
“Every supplier can have the chance to see as many of the 150 attending retailers as is physically possible in two days and we encourage suppliers to make as many appointments as possible to make the best of their time as well. “It really does work for everyone concerned as long as all parties are willing to work at it.”