BETA International retained its rock-solid reputation as the world’s leading trade exhibition for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products when it threw open its doors at the NEC, Birmingham, from 22 to 24 January to welcome 3,531 visitors* – 4,163 including re-entries – and almost 300 exhibitors from across the UK and overseas.
This ultimate business and trade buying experience showcased some of the finest products and services available today, with many items unveiled for the very first time. Buyers ranged from small independents to large multinational chains, with retailers joining their friends and colleagues for three busy days of trade and networking.
Bit and bitting company Neue Schule announced its continued support for BETA International by signing as main sponsor for the next three years. Trade fair organiser Claire Thomas and Neue Schule CEO Sarfraz Mian shared the good news with journalists at the show's Press Lunch.
Business, information and entertainment topped the show’s leader board, with BETA International's red-hot industry debate taking centre stage in the show's new Charles Owen Hub. ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart hosted Talking Business for a second consecutive year, with a panel made up of Liz Hopper, MD of Matchmakers International, Tom MacGuinness, MD of Horseware Ireland, Tim Holderness-Roddam, a director of British Eventing, Sue Moxon, MD of R&R Country, Nikki Newcombe, MD of Bliss of London, and Sarfraz Mian, CEO of Neue Schule.
They expressed their fears caused by the current uncertainty and possible retail price rises resulting from the Brexit vote and fall in the pound, but shared their hopes for fresh opportunities that might arise with trade from other countries outside the EU. They also discussed the issue of retailers selling below recommended retail prices.
The Hub – a vibrant, new business theatre sponsored by renowned hat manufacturer Charles Owen – included sessions with the company's managing director, Roy Burek, who looked at just what makes British safety brands some of the best in the word, and Neue Schule explored the importance of informed bitting and introduced Avansce, the company's new sports performance monitoring division.
Mattie Batchelor and Marc Goldstein – aka Batch and the Pwoducer of Wocket Woy fame –brought hilarious antics and belly laughs to the hall as visitors and exhibitors gathered to hear their interview in The Hub. The two jockeys continued to spread good cheer throughout the halls and took part in a riding lesson on RoboCob, the mechanical horse, with Olympic silver medal-winning event rider Julia Krajewski.
The Hub also featured presentations from BETA International's chosen charities, the Riding for the Disabled Association and HorseBack UK, giving members of the industry a powerful insight into their work to improve the quality of human lives with the help of horses.
Visiting SQPS (suitably qualified persons) claimed eight CPD points by attending The Code in Practice – Keeping Yourself Compliant seminar, hosted by AMTRA secretary-general Stephen Dawson. BETA-trained City & Guild fitters benefited from up to five CPD points with Claire Williams’s seminar Safety Equipment Standards and Rules.
Retailers were also provided with top tips and heaps of inspiration by Kirsty Kean, of Visual Thinking, who looked at An Exploration of Sensory Customer Experience, explaining how the use of senses can influence and drive sales. Sylvia Rook, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, provided an overview of Returns, Complaints and the Law, and Blacks Solicitors gave the legal lowdown on issues affecting businesses in the equestrian trade.
The Equi-Theme Fashion Show showcased a wide range of stunningly stylish equestrian, country and outdoor clothing. Buyers took their seats at the edge of the runway as clothing from sponsor Equi-Theme, House of Montar, Covalliero, Horseware Ireland, Baleno, Derriere Equestrian, Champion, Toggi and Fits Riding revealed their forthcoming autumn/winter collections.
The spirit of competition always burns brightly at BETA International and this year's Innovation Awards were keenly contested, as usual. Sponsored by Equestrian Trade News, the show's official media partner, they attracted a large number of entries in each of the eight categories
A carefully selected panel of judges had the difficult task of deciding on the winning products. This year, the industry experts chosen for their specific skills were FEI competition vet Lesley Barwise-Munro, retailer James Edwards, of Devon-based Acorn Saddlery, international event rider Piggy French, Dr Teresa Hollands, a senior teaching fellow in veterinary nutrition at the University of Surrey, Ken Law, a horse riding safety practitioner and consultant, and Serena Jones, retail director of Millbry Hill, North Yorkshire.
Winners were presented with their awards by ETN editor Liz Benwell and advertising sales manager Nicki Lewis. They were: Musto with a women's lightweight Gore-Tex tweed jacket (Country Clothing & Footwear), Trilanco with GastroKind (Feed & Supplements), Stable & Barn for its tack trolley (General), Harry Hall with a Protechmasta infrared rug (Horsecare Equipment & [horse] Clothing, Doggy Bag with its Doggy towel (Pet Products), Kask Spa for its helmet with merino wool padding (Rider Clothing & Footwear), Neue Schule with the Turtle Tilt Weymouth bit (Saddlery & Tack) and Harry Hall for the Masta Avante hi-viz turnout rug (Safety & Security). SEE SEPARATE NEWS RELEASE FOR FULL DETAILS
BETA International is highly regarded for the quality of its exhibition stands and all the hard work it takes to create polished and professional retail environments is recognised and rewarded with the show's Best Stand Awards. Each exhibitor is automatically entered into the competition, which was judged by Jay Hare, of HorseBack UK, and Sally Atkinson, of the Riding for the Disabled Association. After touring the halls, they selected Carr & Day & Martin as winner of the Best Large Stand Award (32 sq m and over) and Danish Design Pet Products for the Best Small Stand Award (under 32 sq m).
Kari Grundwig, won The Academy by Neue Schule Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement (Equestrian Trade). A student in the company’s education and training division, she scooped the title after being judged highest achiever on its three courses. Her prize was an Avansce Synchronicity system and engraved crystal plaque.
Winners of the show’s awards were presented with their prizes in a special ceremony on the Fashion Show stage where visitors and exhibitors gathered to congratulate them as Prosecco and celebration cake were served.
The Society of Master Saddlers showcased the high standard of British saddlery with daily competitions for apprentices from the Saddlery Training Centre and students from Capel Manor College. Sunday's challenge to make a noseband was won by Corrin King, with second-year Capel Manor College student Rachel Lok securing a clear win on Monday for her pair of plaited reins and Tuesday's competition to make a bridle headpiece claimed by Grace Willsmer, a first-year student at Capel Manor College.
Trade fair organiser Claire Thomas was extremely pleased with the response to BETA International 2017. “We have had some wonderful feedback from both our exhibitors and visitors,” she said. “The show has been top-notch – a real class act from start to finish, with some simply stunning stands, great products, quality buyers and a tremendous feel-good factor throughout the halls. We would like to thank the trade for its support and help in retaining our position as the No 1 B2B equestrian show. Our thanks must also go to our sponsors – Neue Schule, Battles, Charles Owen, Equi-Thème, Equestrian Trade News, Henson Franklyn, Hy, NAF, Schockemöhle Sports, Shires Equestrian Products and Toggi – who all play an important role in the show's success.”
BETA International 2018 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 21 to 23 January. For information about exhibiting at the trade fair, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Visitor figures awaiting ABC audit