Angling International: There appears to be some uncertainty about whether EFTTA plans to grow the show (more exhibitors and visitors) or whether a certain size of show works better as a financial model. Can you clarify that once and for all?
Janet Doyle: I don’t know where this uncertainty is coming from. It’s ridiculous for any exhibition not to want to grow the number of exhibitors and visitors. EFTTA has always adapted to times of change in the industry. As a trade-only exhibition in a micro- based industry there is a limited number of exhibitors and visitors that we can attract. That is a fact. It must also be understood that each company has individual needs, circumstances and audiences and EFTTEX, for whatever reason, might not be the right platform or the right timing for them. What I know for certain is we do our upmost to contact as many European companies as possible to invite them to join Europe’s largest tackle trade show.
Regarding the amount of space that can be sold, again we do our best to sell as much as we can. EFTTEX 2015 in Warsaw and EFTTEX 2016 in Amsterdam were complete sell-outs with long exhibitor waiting lists. We invite the whole fishing tackle trade industry to attend EFTTEX as either exhibitors or visitors. We know how respected the show is all around the world and the value of business that takes place. If some companies can’t make it one year we trust that they will come back in the near future, because maintaining their network of contacts is very important.
How has the absence of companies Shimano, Zebco, Preston, Western Filament and Leeda affected your thinking in terms of selling the show?
Large or small, we always have exhibitors that come and go every year. We hope to welcome them back all absentees at some point. Each of the companies mentioned above have different reasons for not exhibiting at EFTTEX 2018 and it is not up to us to comments on any company’s strategy.
We have managed to attract some 27 companies in 2018 who will be exhibiting for the first time. We are also welcoming back seven exhibitors who have taken a break for a few years.
Our marketing strategy is to invite the whole trade to exhibit and we are pleased to have so many new and returning exhibitors.
Shimano says it has been considering pulling out for three years. How long ago did they make you aware?
We have been aware for a while that EFTTEX is not the right platform for the Shimano business model. They have subsidiaries almost everywhere in the world and are less and less dependent on distributors. They have always been open with us about that, so their decision not to exhibit this year was not a surprise. We are sorry not to have them, but accept their decision.
On a positive note, Shimano is hugely supportive of EFTTA and the work we do and what we represent. They are so committed that they have financially contributed to EFTTA projects this year instead of exhibiting at EFTTEX to cover the loss of revenue resulting from their absence from the show. The Association and its board would like to formally Shimano for their support and contribution.
Cor Ax, Shimano Europe Managing Director and EFTTA Board Member, has gone on record as saying: “Shimano fully supports the work that EFTTA does and the importance of what the association represents. We’re so committed that we’ve financially contributed to EFTTA’s lobbying projects. I am also very much looking forward to continuing to serve on the board of EFTTA and working on future association strategy and policy with my board member colleagues. Having a strong association representing our industry is vital in today’s world”
The presence of Chinese exhibitors has grown in recent years. Though this may not meet everyone’s approval, is it actually a growth opportunity?
There is a maximum quota of non-European companies that cannot be exceeded. This goes not for Chinese companies. EFTTEX has exhibitors from Japan, Canada, Australia, USA, China, Thailand and many more, which is very good for visitors that cannot travel overseas to other shows such as ICAST, China Fish, Osaka and the Japan Fishing Show (Tokyo).
It appears that EFTTEX is perceived largely as a distributor show, which clearly reduces its value to big brands that already have an established distributor network. What’s EFTTA’s view on this – is it time to consider changing this dynamic?
EFTTEX is not just a distributor show. It is a meeting platform where the whole industry can network. It is also the place to see new products and meet new suppliers. We endeavor to meet the needs of exhibitors and visitors by making changes to ensure the show evolves. If we didn’t we wouldn’t survive. It’s as simple as that.
Some exhibitors we have spoken to have doubts EFTTEX can ever attract worthwhile numbers of retailers? Do you share that view?
We have a small minority who complain about the quality of visitors. However, I believe the statistics on retailers speak for themselves. In 2017, 37% of visitors to EFTTEX were retailers – some 579 people out of 1,566. Wholesalers tend to top the list percentage wise (46%). The three top countries that retailers came from were Hungary, France and Russia.
In 2016, 35% of visitors were retailers – some 554 people out of 1,607. Again wholesalers topped the percentage list (53%). The three top countries that retailers came from were The Netherlands, France and Germany.
Many retailers are unable to travel or don’t speak English. Many are trying to adapt their retailer outlets to more modern entities and become less “mom and pop” style outlets. There are also a number of shops represented by groups and chains so the percentages here are fairly good.
Others point to other European outdoor shows (like the big hunting show) that attract retailers in very large numbers. Is there something EFTTA can learn from these events?
IWA in Nuremberg is approximately 12 times bigger than EFTTEX. It is a huge exhibition that brings in other hunting and related industries such as pet food, rifle wood suppliers and optics, just to mention a few. Comparing IWA to EFTTEX is comparing apples to pears. The hunting industry has greater financial resources than the fishing tackle industry. Of course, we can always learn how other shows do things and we often implement ideas that work well.
Can customers expect to see anything new at this year’s show?
Yes, this year we are delighted to present a new seminar area with presentations from fish21 on sustainability within the fishing tackle industry and Withers and Rogers representatives who will give an IP seminar. There is also a new registration/badging system and PT Central Sarana Pancing, one of our exhibitors, will organise a raffle to win a rod whilst raising money for the official charity.
A consumer day or days has been suggested by some exhibitors? Is this a realistic option for the future?
Yes, a consumer day has been mentioned and every EFTTEX we continue to ask exhibitors and visitors if they want a consumer day. The huge majority still want to keep EFTTEX a trade-only event, so for now we will continue as that.
What percentage of available space is likely to be sold for 2018?
Stand booking is still open as we speak, so I don’t have accurate numbers. But we are expecting between 90% - 95% of space sold.
What is Jean-Claude Bel’s role in the show?
Jean Claude has stepped back from overseas travel and is concentrating more time on our lobbying projects with EAA and the lobby team in Brussels. The rest of his role is unchanged and he remains involved in all decisions and strategies. So if required he is happy to step in and assist with promoting the show. We are approaching the end of the first year where he has taken this step back and, with 27 new exhibitors and seven returning companies in 2018, for now things seem to be going OK.
What would a smaller show mean to EFTTA as an organisation?
We have recognised for some time that EFTTA relies on EFTTEX profits to generate income for the Association. Continuing to do this can make us vulnerable, of course. Therefore, with the assistance of Jacques Prallet we implemented a new membership structure from December 2017. The new system puts each company into a membership fee range depending on its turnover. It is fairer to all and seems to be the preferred system when we benchmark against other similar associations. For now it is going well and we aim to even out the income from both EFTTA and EFTTEX, thus making us less vulnerable.
I think it important to say there are no visible signs of a smaller show and the companies that have withdrawn don’t represent the whole industry.
What are the risks to the industry if there is a noticeable decline in EFTTEX?
If EFTTEX were to decline the industry would not have the same platform to network, do business, meet new contacts/suppliers and see new products. Our lobbying projects would also be seriously affected as EFTTEX profits are an important source of funding.
What is your overall message to committed exhibitors and possible new exhibitors?
I’d like to thank the very loyal contingent of exhibitors that have been exhibiting with us since 1982. We appreciate their loyalty and hope the show is working well for gthem. To new exhibitors, I’d like to firstly say welcome and also that often the work that you put in to exhibiting at an exhibition may not come to fruition immediately. It can often take up to six months to a year for you to see return on investment. The first year is often a good way to see what EFTTEX can do for you and you need to return year after year for people to get to know you, your company and your brand. I’d also like to welcome back those who have taken a break. We also hope to welcome back in the future any companies that have decided not to exhibit this year.