The capital is due for a new adventure in bridal: London Bridal Week at the ExCel exhibition centre. We spoke to event director Wendy Adams about organiser Ocean Media’s plans…
Why the decision to bring London Bridal Show and White Gallery together under one roof?
“The move came from an increasing demand from the exhibitor and the retailer community. They wanted to consolidate the events, and provide a destination where retailers could access everything, from mid-range collections to designer names, from leading UK and international brands. By combining the shows in an exciting and accessible venue, we have the opportunity to create the first bridal ‘super-show’ in the UK and the ultimate spring buying destination for retailers across the globe.
“It was essential for us to rebrand the event to London Bridal Week, because we’re creating an event that’s unlike anything the bridal community has seen before. Significant emphasis will be placed on curating our exhibitor base as well as attracting new talent to the show, to ensure that the event is a true representation of the best manufacturers and designers that the industry has to offer.
“We’ve signed a three-year commercial deal with ExCel London that will enable us to focus on creating a show with longevity. We want this to become the ultimate meeting place for the entire bridal community, and we’ve invested significantly to ensure that the networking and learning opportunities at this show will provide real benefit to our attendees.”
So a switch to ExCel London – what can you tell us about the venue?
The ExCel is one of the world’s leading exhibition venues, and the perfect platform to launch London Bridal Week on an international stage. The venue is ideally located a mere five minutes from London City Airport, and has two on-site Docklands Light Railway stations, which connect the venue with key London locations, including Canary Wharf and Westfield shopping centre. 500 free car parking spaces have been secured for exhibitors and visitors to use while attending the event, and nine hotels are within close proximity of the venue with preferential hotel rates already secured by the concierge team.
Do buyers need to register for both shows or can they simply move between the two?
While the shows will be taking place in the same venue, there will be significant focus on ensuring that they retain their own individual identity. Over the past eight years, White Gallery has become synonymous with luxury, and has established itself as the premium buying event. We’re committed to retaining the exclusivity that is integral to the White Gallery proposition, and are confident that we’ll deliver a stronger event for the designer community than ever before.
We want to make attending the event as easy and enjoyable an experience as possible for our visitors, from the time that they register to the moment they set foot in the show. Visitors will only need to complete one application form and will then be able to move freely between the two shows – which will be located in side-by-side halls with shared feature areas. The Fashion Show Theatre will seat an audience of up to 250 retailers and press, hosting up to four different shows each day, with dedicated designer and manufacturer showcases.
At the 2017 London Bridal Show at Olympia, you ran a number of seminars – are you planning something similar this year?
A number of exciting fringe events will take place during the three days, including a retailer-focussed seminar programme and networking events that will bring the exhibitor and retailer community together. The Bridal Retail Success Academy will run two educational seminars a day at the beginning and close of the show, with sessions led by industry experts, designed to advise retailers on all aspects of running a successful business.
This will be a fantastic addition to the event. Visitors can also attend the Seminar Theatre to hear thought-provoking talks from industry experts, get one-to-one advice in the Business Advice Clinic, and watch live interviews with Bridal Buyer Content Editor Zoe Burke, as she quizzes designers, manufacturers, retailers and press on a range of hot topics.
How are you promoting London Bridal Week?
We’re working with all of the UK bridal press, as well as the leading bridal publications and associations in Europe and the USA, to secure significant coverage for our exhibitors before, during and after the event. This year, as part of the international media partnership agreements, we’ve asked them to invite the top retailers from their respective countries to the show on our behalf. In addition to promoting the show and its exhibitors editorially, and to their database of international buyers, each publication will be required to nominate an agreed number of retailers for complimentary accommodation during show.
Similarly, through our VIP programme, we’re working with our exhibitors to engage their key UK and international buyers, and have approximately 600 complimentary room nights allocated to this purpose. We’ve found that by working in partnership with our designers, it enables us to ensure that we attract the right quality of buyers to the event. Data research has been a big project for us over the past six months – we’ve recently invested in a data research project that has given us a clean database of 3,500 international retailers. Every one of these retailers should have already received a copy of the show-dedicated magazine.
Can you tell us a bit more about this concierge operation?
Another addition this year is the partnership with MICE concierge, a dedicated concierge agency that is on hand to assist our visitors and exhibitors with anything from securing the best accommodation rates, arranging transport to and from the show and assisting with restaurant bookings. This, coupled with the move to ExCeL (a considerably more accessible venue for International visitors) will mean that we now have the opportunity to position ourselves as a major buying event on the international calendar.
What do you see as the effect London Bridal Week will have on Harrogate in September? Are you looking at having one show per year, only?
The Harrogate Bridal Show is the longest-running UK bridal trade event. It’s the sheer wealth of choice that sets it apart, with over 180 exhibitors showing more than 350 collections. Harrogate has built a reputation as the home of UK bridal – the town comes alive during those three days, with parties and celebrations. We run a sell-out exhibition, but one with limited room to expand. The focus will be, instead, on maintaining the quality and standard that has made the show a success for the past 30 years!