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LWF: London Wine Fair hails successful show

Published:  23 May, 2019

The London Wine Fair (LWF) has said visitor numbers exceeded expectations for its 39th show.

It had predicted a decrease in visitors to the show after making a strategic decision to deliver a “high-quality audience” which included introducing a charge for some sections of the trade.

Numbers were down by 7% on last year, with 13,260 visitors attending the show. However, this year was up 9% on 2017. The first day was the busiest, with 6,165 visitors attending the show.

LWF also said it delivered a ratio of 26 visitors to each exhibitor, which compares favourably to last week’s Vinexpo, which had a ratio of 20 visitors per exhibitor, and ProWein, which had a ratio of nine.

“2019 was all about attracting a high-quality audience which built on last year’s strategy of delivering on higher numbers of visitors and a refreshed show,” said LWF head of fair, Hannah Tovey.

“Our massive visitor increase last year (17% up on 2017) meant that we could more than withstand a fall in numbers this year. Implementing the charging strategy for some visitors also meant we expected a slight drop this year, something which our exhibitors were on board with. All the exhibitors I have spoken to over the last three days have sighted a better quality of visitor at their stand, with a smaller audience actually being better for doing meaningful business."

Exhibitors were up 11% on last year to 516, including importers Enotria & Coe, Buckingham Schenk, C&C Wines and Felix Solis Avantis.

“We’ve been running masterclasses for 12 different premium producers on our stand,” said Jon Pepper MW, chief operating officer at Enotria&Coe. “The uptake has been amazing. We’ve had between 300-400 people applying for each of the masterclasses that we’ve done. There have been people queuing off the stand. It’s been a really good cross-section of premium to mid-level on-trade and off-trade. An amazing selection of customers. We’re really delighted with how it has gone.”

Charles Simpson, co-owner of Simpsons Wine Estates, said overall he “found the fair very busy and productive. We believe that the decision to charge for entry was the correct choice in order to reduce the amount of non-wine industry related visitors to the fair. Our impression was, whilst numbers felt a little lower than last year, that the per-capita quality of the visitors was vastly improved".

And Miles Beale, chief executive at the WSTA, said he “felt like the numbers were down but that the quality was up. Our members who spoke to us at the show were very happy".

The 2020 LWF will take place at Olympia from 18th to 20th May, where it will celebrate its 40th anniversary. “We feel that the show is in an extremely healthy position in the lead up to next year,” said Tovey.

“2020 will be all about delivering a very special edition of the London Wine Fair; the anniversary will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the very best of the UK drinks industry and we very much look forward to sharing our plans over the coming months.”