Kick starting the Golden Quarter: Autumn Fair offers retailers a gateway for end-of-year success

  • Celebration of Britain’s best brands
  • New handicraft showcase with unique international outlook
  • Collaboration with Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday venture
  • Dedicated showcases for sector innovators
  • New buyer/supplier matchmaking app

The season’s number one home and gift marketplace kicks off this September with its unrivalled scale, variety and choice of merchandise. Autumn Fair, 2018’s only ‘Gateway to the Golden Quarter’, will help buyers stock up for the end-of-year peak sales period and discover products with the power to deliver profit.

Retailers attending this year’s event will get to experience a whole swathe of new features and areas, all dedicated to making sure that they can have the best possible golden quarter for their business. They will be able to buy the most innovative design pieces, quality British products or exotic and unique handcrafted goods.

Expert and inspirational advice will also be available for those wanting to capitalise on the Golden Quarter’s increased footfall and understand how to respond to changing consumer expectations. A full program of speakers including BBC Dragon Theo Paphitis and Holly Tucker MBE co-founder of, will be scheduled with topics such as experiential shopping, e-commerce and social media – more to be announced here!

Louise Young, managing director, Spring & Autumn Fair said: “As well as being able to order products at Autumn Fair for the busiest retail period of the year, buyers will be able to see the upcoming trends, and get ahead of the competition by seeing 2019 product launches before anybody else. Through a renewed collaboration with Pinterest we will also enable our visitors to take a glimpse of the trends to come and effortlessly take them away on ready-made digital mood boards.”

The not-to-be-missed event is ideally located for both nationwide and international buyers in the heart of central England at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and runs from the 2-5 September 2018.


The #SBS Pavillion

Autumn Fair is welcoming Theo Paphitis, of BBC Dragons’ Den fame, who’s set to host the new Small Business Sunday #SBS Pavilion, an area dedicated to celebrating new and unique products from ambitious start-ups and small businesses. Theo and Autumn Fair will be opening up the opportunity for 12 of the #SBS winners to secure free exhibition space at the show. Nominations will be assessed by a panel of retail experts from event organisers – Ascential – with 36 shortlisted and 12 being selected as Autumn Fair 2018 exhibitors.

Theo Paphitis, founder of #SBS, said: “I am thrilled to be bringing #SBS to Autumn Fair, giving 12 small businesses a free platform to showcase their wares and access a brand new marketplace.”

#SBS began in 2010 and each week hundreds of small businesses tweet Theo to secure his endorsement. Every Monday, six of these businesses are then invited to become part of the now 2,300 strong #SBS community, benefiting from boosted publicity and attendance at a yearly conference with access to motivational speakers and workshops.

Louise Young, MD of Autumn Fair said: “Each year, Autumn Fair showcases the best and most innovative ideas and products to inspire buyers throughout the Golden Quarter and beyond. It is hugely exciting for us to be welcoming Theo and 12 new #SBS businesses to the Fair, with Theo providing these small businesses with a platform that allows them to really shine and boost their order books.”


Strong handcrafted sector inspires new Global Handicraft showcase

This year Autumn Fair is also celebrating all things handicraft with a showcase for handcrafted, artisan goods from across the world. The UK craft industry is worth over £3billion a year to the UK economy and only continues to grow. Global trend forecaster, WGSN, has been tracking this trend for a long time and it is predicted it will become increasingly important across all interiors categories in the seasons to come.

The Global Handicraft showcase will offer buyers the opportunity to explore a unique area of the market, which has enthused consumers up and down the country. Within the marketplace, a number of intriguing manufacturers and their bespoke ranges of jewellery, fine ceramics, exotic textiles and quirky lighting will be available to peruse. Autumn Fair will give retailers the opportunity to be the first to stock the unique and rare products.

With over 50 international handicraft brands expected to be exhibiting, this is a showcase that is unmatched in its dedication and commitment to something so unique. Indeed, with confirmed exhibitors from as far afield as India, Indonesia and Morocco we’re going to be seeing some products which are unlike anything that buyers would ordinarily be able to purchase from within the UK market. Offering such products will be the likes of KAZI Goods who seek to celebrate the authenticity and creativity of African craftspeople whilst also giving their products an international platform – supporting 21,000 people in the process.

We’re also joined by the Peruvian Spectacled Bear Conservation Society, whose small soft toys are sold for the benefit not only of the endangered animal but the local communities that live in its habitat and make the endearing products.

With shoppers more in-tune with global environmental and social issues, the international handicraft industry often presents buyers with the ethically and ecologically conscious merchandise that consumers now demand.

Louise Young, said: “Consumers have made it clear they want to connect with the products they buy, and know how they were created and the story behind their purchases. With this new section, buyers can get their hands on products that are handmade, inspiring and steeped in culture, and get their orders in ahead of the competition.”


British-made: a marker of luxury, quality and sophistication

British merchandise is sought after across the globe. The enviable standards to which the best British produce is designed and manufactured is undoubtedly a source of national pride. UK retailers and manufacturers export more successfully than their international counterparts, with the sector accounting for 5.9 per cent of global exports of consumer and leisure goods[1] - this heavyweight status is in part down to the respect ‘Made in Britain’ has on the international stage. At Autumn Fair this year we’re making sure that the world knows that this dedication and drive from British manufacturers and the quality of their products isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

We’re looking forward to welcoming some of the best representatives of British manufacturing and design: amongst a plethora of great British producers, we’ll be joined by the West Midlands-based cushion makers Evans of Lichfield who use only the best fabrics to create bespoke soft furnishings for all tastes – traditional and contemporary. Also exhibiting will be Welsh designer Carrie Elspeth with her wonderfully bright and vivid jewellery pieces.

With international trade being a significant aspect of Spring Fair earlier this year, Autumn Fair is set to build on its sister show’s success be captivating the interest of international buyers seeking well-made and genuine British produce. Millions of pounds worth of export deals between British brands and global buyers were brokered at Spring Fair with the help of the Department for International Trade. At Autumn Fair we believe that we’ll likely see a similar strong interest in British-made goods from international buyers.


Innovation at heart with DesignFirst

As an entirely new platform for only the most unique and quirky manufacturers, DesignFirst will offer up to thirty innovative brands a chance to showcase their products at prime sector-specific locations in the event space for optimal visibility and footfall. The focus will be on brands that endeavour to break new ground and be unique.

The new DesignFirst sections in Contemporary Gift and Living; Body, Bath & Home Fragrance; Fashion, Jewellery and Accessories; and Home are already proving popular. Amongst the new exhibitors already confirmed for 2018 are Kushboo Soaps – soap-makers that blend traditional methods with the unusual choice of Indian spices and fragrances – and The Sugar Shed – a Lake District brand that prints images on to pieces of local hardwood, making each piece beautifully unique. Flower & Fable, a handmade floral jewellery brand, and East End Press, which creates colourful objects for the home, will also be exhibiting.

Sharing little more than a penchant for alternative ideas, the DesignFirst exhibitors are set to introduce buyers to a new world of new-to-market, original products. The showcases will run for the full length of Autumn Fair.

On DesignFirst, Louise Young, said: “Fresh and new products with a real difference are expected in the eyes of consumers. With DesignFirst, we’re hoping to open up a window into the cutting edge for all UK retailers to find this, whilst also ensuring that innovative brands are exposed to opportunities to get ahead and reach out to established retailers. It will bring new talent, new blood and new brands to Autumn Fair.

In addition to DesignFirst, new and unique brands will be a focus across Autumn Fair 2018. For instance, in our Greetings sector we’re welcoming a Greeting Cards Association (GCA) Debut area, where there will be a wonderful collection of start-up and small publishers, never before seen at Autumn Fair.”


Demand for British-made and locally sourced drives Home sector growth

Finding the right coffee table, sofa throw or dressing table can be a difficult and protracted process for many. Our home furnishings are invariably an expression of our personalities – it’s key that we get them right. As such the home and furniture sector in one in which consumers demand abundant choice and variety. Autumn Fair seeks to make things easier for our retailers’ customers by giving buyers a comprehensive overview of some of the UK’s most exciting contemporary homewares manufacturers.

This year we welcome a number of new exhibitors showcasing all-manner of products that, each in their own unique way, make for welcoming and comforting homes. Amongst them will be handmade lamp makers Copper Fish, who restore salvaged, reclaimed and storm-felled timber to handcraft a range of lighting accessories; unusual and industrial-inspired furnishings from Soho Vintage and eclectic wholesalers of everything from Chinese Porcelain and reproduction antiques to exquisite hand-painted trinket boxes, Minster Stylish Living.


New AF Product Match

Autumn Fair is also launching a new product matching service that gets to know you and your business needs, and intuitively recommends the best suppliers to visit to find exactly what you’re looking for at Autumn Fair.

The AF Product Match app will learn about your preferences the more it is used to ensure all Autumn Fair attendees have the most productive and streamlined Fair experience possible. The platform will also include schedules for all four of the Fair’s theatres, letting attendees know exactly what’s going on and at what time. It will be available as an app and as a web-based platform to ensure accessibility for all. There is more to be announced on this soon too!


Who can attendees look forward to meeting?

Autumn Fair will this year play host to four exciting theatre and workshop spaces each delivering their own unique and dedicated area of retail insight. Each individual stage will deliver a myriad of speakers and workshops, affording attendees some excellent opportunities for networking and connecting with potential buyers or suppliers. Irrespective of the size and ambition of attending businesses, there’ll be something for everyone.

  • Main Stage: Our Main Stage is set to be a central hub for buyers and retailers of all kinds, with only the highest profile speakers addressing attendees with inspirational messages and with advice on how to make an impact online, and how networks can help drive sales.

Holly Tucker MBE, co-founder of internet retail sensation and UK ambassador for Creative Small Business, will be speaking on Monday 3 September at 2pm, where she will share insights on working with creative small business’ and inspiration platform Holly & Co. Topping the bill will be entrepreneur and small business champion, Theo Paphitis who will be on hand to tackle the retail issues that matter the most to you and your business. Attendees can see him speak on the Tuesday of conference at 2pm.

  • Master Online Retail Theatre: Elsewhere, for our online retailers we are introducing a Master Online Retail Theatre, where they’ll be able to find all the information and advice they need to help their digital shops stand out and succeed. All content will have the online indie retailer in mind while looking at the objectives of buyers from larger online retailers, where topics such as, “What do buyers from multiples look for online?” and “How to maximise your profit this Christmas 2018” are explored. Speakers will include experts from Ecommerce Masterplan, and
  • Master the High Street Theatre: From last-minute tips for a successful final quarter of the year, to bigger themes such as ‘What does your shopper want from you?’, to unseen trend-led video content aimed to help retailers buy smarter, this high street focussed stage is a must-visit for indies who wants to master the high street and see their bricks and mortar or online shop come out on top among the competition.

We’re looking forward to welcoming Pinterest and Google Digital Garage who will both talk about how high street retailers can make themselves more visible online.

  • Fashion Talks: An in-depth look at the trends and retail insights through a series of unique fireside-style chats and discussions. Within this small intimate setting, attendees will get a chance to really delve deep into everything retailers need to know as buyer in the fashion and accessories market.

Among the speakers will be Beaulagh Brooks, of the Birmingham school of Jewellery and Amy Hobson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert/Trainer, SocialB.

We’ll also be wrapping up day one of the Fashion Talks theatre with the The BTAA (British Travelgoods & Accessories Association) Awards Ceremony.

To register click here.