THE latest edition of the EFTTEX show that was held in Rome last June was a reflection of the current trends in effect in our European market.
A lot of effort, time and money were spent by most of those companies exhibiting in the show. Stands were generally very nice, with many companies and brands making particular efforts for improving the presentation of their products. The venue was large and the high ceiling and the temperature inside the halls provided for an excellent business atmosphere. Attendance to the show was just under 1,600 visitors, in line with attendances of previous years.
Whether the show was truly interesting for all segments and channels in the European market is a matter of analysis:
a/ International brands with worldwide distribution networks exhibited at the show, using the venue as a once a year meeting place in order to present new products for the coming season, strengthen current relations with their distributors and establish new relations with any potential customer visiting from an uncovered market. For these companies, the show is also a good PR opportunity to promote their products with the 60 attending journalists of the specialized press. Although these groups usually complain that EFTTEX is an expensive venue; gathering all their subsidiaries and distributors in one place in a controlled environment certainly gives them a significant market advantage.
b/ Many European wholesalers were exhibiting in order to increase their customer base, meet potential and existing buyers and distributors; in many cases also looking to meet European retailers.
c/ Some of the few remaining European manufacturers were exhibiting in order to meet mostly retailers and special customers.
d/ A few manufacturers from overseas were exhibiting in order to sell their products to anyone capable of meeting the minimum production requests.
Did EFTTEX 2008 satisfy the international exhibitors mentioned in group a/? Most certainly!
Did EFTTEX 2008 satisfy the exhibitors in group b/ and c/? Well that would depend on the quality of their range and the competitiveness of their prices and service!
Did EFFTEX 2008 compete with CHINAFISH this year? By no means whatsoever!
I still believe that EFTTEX and EFTTA must be treated as two separate entities and that the EFTTEX show should be allowed to become more interesting for all segments of the market. For instance: How much business was generated from sales made between exhibitors? Exhibitors are also buyers! It would be interesting for them to be able to get some extra benefit from the show!
The disastrous state of the representation of our trade at national and European level obliges the only Pan-European body (EFTTA) to take on that responsibility and to act as the fund raiser and coordinator for the defence and development of our sport.
It is therefore crucial for EFTTEX to be the fund raiser for the representative activities of EFTTA. Only a large and healthy show can guarantee sufficient income for these activities. For this to be achieved, potential exhibitors must gain easy access to a presence at the venue. I can see an improvement in the mentality of the EFTTA board of directors, especially since the recent nomination of many board members from larger companies. They bring a breath a fresh air to what has been in the past; a bastion of European protectionism. If some members are afraid to let the few European retailers that visit the show meet up with Chinese or Indian manufacturers, then why not re-group these manufacturers into a more controlled area, where access is limited to certain colours of badges. If badge switching is an issue, then untamperable bracelets will do the job! By allowing more manufacturers to exhibit, more income will be gained from the show and the show will become more interesting for visitors, thus increasing the attendance, exhibitor satisfaction and income from the event.
Another issue to be considered is that of all the business that is conducted around EFTTEX by companies that do not exhibit for reasons of confidentiality, cost or simply because they do not require a booth. The “selling in the aisles” issue is a non-issue. EFTTEX is and will remain a great gathering of the European and worldwide fishing tackle trade; the show is not the only venue, the whole city in which the show is held is the venue. Countless impromptu meetings are still being held in surrounding hotels and many visitors gather together wherever they can in order to exchange catalogues and proceed with their business. However, having a meeting with a business relative within the EFTTEX show is just like fishing without a licence. It’s forbidden by EFTTA regulations; it is however common practice!
The organisers of the show could solve this issue by for instance, building numerous small office booths and renting them out by the hour instead of attempting to ban impromptu meetings altogether or insisting on stopping visitors from entering the show with briefcases or such.
EFFTA has to realize that what makes a great EFTTEX show is the gathering and not only the show. Of course, the event causes the congregation. If the exhibition organisers can embrace these parallel activities and not pursue to smother them, the show will only further gain in interest and that will be good for the trade as a whole.
And our trade certainly needs all the help it can get: In a market suffering from numerous negative external influences from pollution to overfishing, competition from other hobbies and lack of recognition and presence in the general media, only a concerted effort can attempt to reverse the decline our industry has been suffering in the last twenty years.
The lack of interest in matters affecting the trade in general was reflected by the very poor attendance at the annual general meeting of EFTTA. There were again unfortunately practically more board members present than attendants. The nomination of Jean-Claude Bel as CEO of EFTTA will certainly be beneficial in the medium term; it however reflects the lack of time made available for voluntary work for EFTTA and the general wellbeing of the trade. A more concerted professional approach is certainly needed as reflected in the disastrous figures of the last EFTTEX show in Prague where last minute unaccounted costs were apparently responsible for a very poor financial result ensuing a monetary loss for EFTTA in 2007. It makes me wonder what the board members did in Spring 2006, during the meeting that was held in Prague. During that meeting which is held one year before the event, the board is supposed to inspect the venue, gather general information about hotels, accommodation and transport and make sure that no stone is left unturned so as to avoid unpleasant surprises. As far as I remember, the only time the EFTTEX show ever lost money was the time the show was held in Milan and the VAT was not reimbursed to EFTTEX Ltd by the Italian government for bureaucratic reasons that should have been covered beforehand.
In front of such oversight and the devastating effect of the losses in Prague, those present at that Spring 2006 board meeting should have offered their resignations to the Annual General Assembly. Besides, I personally believe there are presently too many board members and that presence on the board should be restricted only to members who are ready to give plenty of their available time and advanced thinking for the welfare of the trade. It would also allow for some reduction in board meeting costs and reduce the communication workload for the EFTTA office.