LWF drops DISTIL in direction change

UK show organiser Brintex has dropped the spirits exhibition Distil from the 2014 London Wine Fair as part of a set of changes and a renewed focus on wine and the UK market.

The 2014 show - stands of which are almost sold out, Brintex told the drinks press at a briefing in London today - will return to London Olympia in the capital’s West End for the first time since 2001.

The June 2-4 show will take place in conjunction with London Wine Week, which will be run by organiser of London Cocktail Week, ABV Global, from June 2-8.

Ross Carter, event director at Brintex, told journalists that under its new guise the show will be the "leading event" for the export wine market and - though the show will refocus on the needs of the UK market, it will continue to act as a “shop window” for international buyers, which are expected to make up 15% of the target 11,500 visitors.

On the decision to move the show away from spirits Carter said: “Distil had niche spirits – the big brands with the big budgets were not there. The look of the fair this year will be very different. We did not want big glitzy stands. We have Brew House [a new exhibition for craft beer] but that is smaller scale [than Distil]. We wanted wine to stand out as the key product.”

Brintex said the 2014 show will increase from 15,500sqm of exhibition space at last year’s Excel show to 17,250sqm at Olympia, a rise of 11%. By setting a stand size cap, exhibitor numbers will grow from 565 to 670, an 18% rise.

Stand prices have dropped 25%  in price from last year, a strategy that “could have backfired, if the show had not grown” said Carter.

The show director also claimed the 2014 show is a “success on paper” but that ultimately success will be judged on the number of visitors and the reaction of exhibitors to the show’s new format.

Among this year’s exhibitors are Accolade, PLB, Metzendorf, Bibendum, Australian Vintage and generic bodies WOSA, Wines of Turkey, Lebanon and Slovakia.

Those not returning are Pernod Ricard, Liberty, Alliance, New Zealand, California and Australia (although Wine Showcase will feature some Australian wines).

Carter said companies that opted out did so because of the show’s timing – which will change to May 18-20 next year - funding cycles and a wait-and-see attitude to the 2014 show.

Alongside the new 20-brewer craft beer exhibition, the show will feature Esoterica – an exhibition of 1,000 niche wines – bulk wine producer stands, service providers, 66 seminars and tastings, plus another 70 held by the likes of WSET and Riedel.

The first 1,000 visitors will receive Carpe Vinum, a report produced by Wine Intelligence.

Carter emphasised the good transport links to London Olympia, which is accessed by the London Overground, a south London tendril of the capital’s Underground network.

In order to attract the right visitors, around £40,000 has been pledged by Brintex to spend on travel and hotels for key buyers.

Visitors to the show will also benefit from meeting rooms, free WIFI and three on-site delis offering fresh British and continental food.