It has been fascinating to see the varying fortunes of our industry trade shows of late. The most recent development was the former Hotelympia show, HRC, making the move to an annual event, as well as merging with sister title, the International Food & Drink Exhibition.
There are two main attitudes to take here – you can either see this as a huge positive that the whole foodservice supply chain will be exhibiting under one roof, or that the equipment segment is being further diluted in a sea of food and packaging suppliers. This move also opens up the opportunity for competitor, Diversified Communications, to now argue that its Commercial Kitchen show is the only catering equipment specialist exhibition in the country.
It is true to say that a fair number of end user executives look after the whole procurement process for all elements of their sites and would welcome making the most of their hard-pressed time by stopping by all their suppliers in a short time. But catering equipment distributors and kitchen design houses are by and large highly specialised. Any food sections in trade shows are rather irrelevant for them.
Fresh Montgomery’s show merger has also had the effect of wiping HRC Birmingham off the board too. With so much investment in hosted buyer’s clubs and keeping the Professional Kitchen Show and Foodservice Show brand strands going throughout the Birmingham and London events, it does seem a shame that the revitalised format of what was the Great Hospitality Show won’t get to have another crack of the whip. Perhaps the many rebrands over recent years have also not helped the situation – some in the industry are still confused as to what to call the shows and which event is which.
Plus with the Commercial Kitchen show also moving to London now, this means that none of the major UK catering equipment exhibitions are held outside the capital. This could disadvantage the many dealers and suppliers based in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as those located outside the Home Counties in England.
Both the re-tooled HRC and Commercial Kitchen will be in the same location (ExCeL) and the same annual frequency, and only a few months apart too. It will be interesting to see how these UK competitors measure up to each other.
More immediately though we have Host Milan coming up this week. The biennial exhibition seems to become more spectacular with each passing edition, and with stand prices often cheaper than their UK counterpart shows, I’ve heard that it can actually be economical to decamp to the rather more appealing climes of northern Italy for a few days.
The Catering Insight team will be among the thousands heading to Milan for the gigantic event starting on Friday, so we hope to see you there.