Three days of trading, a glittering awards ceremony and a whole host of innovative products – spoga horse autumn 2017 had it all.
Reputed as the leading international trade fair for equestrian sports, spoga horse cemented this reputation with yet another very successful exhibition. Around 39,000 trade visitors registered at the event, which saw 425 exhibitors from 32 countries present their new products in Cologne.
The mix of exhibitors and visitors had a truly international feel, with the visitors coming from one of 113 countries – 60 percent of whom were from overseas. In terms of the number of exhibitors, this year’s event achieved a three percent increase, with 425 companies from 31 countries participating in the trade fair. Commenting on the event’s importance for the industry, Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse commented, “The companies rely on the trade fair as an industry platform and appreciate the first-class quality of the trade visitors.”
With the impressive expansion into Hall 11, spoga horse autumn had space and flexibility to its advantage. This not only allowed organisers to adapt the layout to cover the two floors of the hall, but also optimise the visitors’ quality of stay, which resulted in consistently busy stands and aisles as well as intensive discussions throughout the venue.
Hot topic: diversification
In addition to riding fashion, helmets, shoes and boots, saddles and bridles, care and feed products, through to accessories and services, spoga horse also offered an extended range of items for dogs this year. Whereby all key players of the equestrian sport industry were represented in Hall 11 and offered the trade visitors a condensed market overview.
The pavilion of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) housed a number of fresh, young and innovative companies that presented visitors with a taste of the exciting new ideas currently breaking into the equestrian market.
Organisers attribute the diversification directly to the number of international trade visitors, projecting a very healthy forecast for the global equestrian marketplace. This feeling was reiterated by members of the Germany Sports Equipment Industry Association e.V. (BSI), as committee member Monique van Dooren-Westerdaal explained, “spoga horse went very well from our point of view. The distribution over the two floors of the hall was solved extremely well with a successful mixture of all product sections. There was a high number of international customers. The members were able to hold very good discussions, also with many new international customers.”
The mood at spoga horse autumn was very positive and not just among the exhibitors – the trade visitors also agreed that spoga horse is the number one marketplace of the industry, through the comprehensive survey complete with each event. The results found that 84 percent of the visitors were satisfied or very satisfied regarding having achieved their fair objectives, while 92 percent would recommend a good business acquaintance to visit spoga horse. In addition to the positive mood, the high quality of the visitors also underlined the significance of the trade fair – 73 percent of the respondents were involved in procurement decisions, and 53 percent were even decisive in the decision-making process.
Rewarding high achievers
For the 17th time, together with its media partner equitrends, Koelnmesse distinguished exhibitors for their ideas of tomorrow with the spoga horse award in the categories: Innovations, Sales Concepts and Sustainability.
Komperdell Sportartikel secured itself first place in the category Innovations in 2018, with the safety vest Equestrian Cross Body Protection. Horseware Products Ltd asserted itself in the category Sustainability with the waistcoat Isola Gilet. The gold medal in the category Sales Concepts went to HKM Sports Equipment with a product collection for the film Wendy, while Cabasus claimed the special jury prize with an app and movement tracker.
Thoughts from the floor
Around 48 exhibitors travelled to spoga from the United Kingdom and a further 10 made the trip from Ireland to share their products with a truly international audience. With seasoned exhibitors as well as first timer making the decision to exhibit, Equestrian Business turned to the companies to share their thoughts.
Gray’s of Shenstone Ltd
It was the pull of new customers and worldwide exposure that brought Gray’s of Shenstone back to spoga autumn. “As a long time exhibitor, the process is straight forward – we always book flights and stand space well in advance,” commented managing director Nick Gray. Nick likened the exhibiting experience to shop window, which delivered the perfect platform to present the company, and proved especially successful for the recently extended leather bag and accessory ranges. When asked if he would return, Nick was particularly positive: “Yes, there are so many opportunities with so many countries and people.”
After successfully launching the Perry Equestrian range at BETA International and receiving such a good response from European distributors, director Chris Perry made the call to exhibit at spoga in order to introduce the products directly to the European market. “We organised everything in advance, from logistics to flights and hotels which really helped,” Chris explained. “Being a first time exhibitor we didn’t really know what to expect when we got to Koelnmesse, but setting up went smoothly and the organisers were on hand if needed.” Noting how good the foot traffic was, Chris felt the experience “absolutely” benefitted the company: “We’ve met with some great businesses from all over Europe and look forward to increasing our export sales considerably. We will be returning to spoga horse next year absolutely. We can’t wait!”
Charles Sainsbury-Plaice (CEO of CSP Wholesale) chose to exhibit to bring the Thelwell product line to a very specific audience. “We wanted to increase exposure of our British made greeting cards and gifts to a wider audience – in particular to Australian, Canadian and American buyers where there is a large following for Thelwell,” he commented. While Charles found the halls marginally quiet, all the customers the team did see were serious buyers. “It has definitely been of benefit as we did meet a number of new buyers and managed to take orders covering our costs,” Charles added. “You always need to look at the longer picture when doing trade shows. We will return to SPOGA in 2019 – give it a break for a year and consolidate what we have, possibly using the budget for next year to travel to US and see some of the bigger customers.”
The Westgate EFI team used spoga to fulfil slightly different means – making it an opportunity to support the export sales department, which usually doesn’t get to see customers in person. Operations director Tracey Woods commented, “We always visit SPOGA but don’t usually exhibit. It was good not only to meet customers but also to have a base to meet with our suppliers, a lot of whom were there. We were also surprised by the number of UK customers that actually attended!” To ensure smooth running, the team enlisted the help of company GBH Exhibition Forwarding, which Tracey felt kept the process quite calm. Having had plenty of interest around the riding hats and footwear, Tracey commented, “We intend to book for next spring and also autumn.”
Finest Brands International Ltd
Increasing demand from consumers and retailers in Europe, the USA and other countries brought managing director Sarah-Jane Fedarb and her team to spoga autumn. “We have an amazing, dedicated team who were happy to rise to the challenge – even though they only had a few week’s notice,” explained Sarah. “The atmosphere was very upbeat, seemed very busy, and our stand was busy the whole time so it was hard to judge what was happening elsewhere but overall it was positive.” With a great deal of foreign retail interest in the range, Sarah added, “The Champion Ti22 body protector was a run-away success and literally on every order written, the comfort and fit is unparalleled. The new colours in the Air-Tech dial fit hat were also very well received, with retailer’s loving the three sizes to save on shelf space.” Due to the positive response from retailers, at this stage Finest Brands International anticipates exhibiting at spoga 2018.
Frank Baines Saddlery
Director Victoria Coleman considers spoga horse as one of the key event in Frank Baines Saddlery’s exhibiting calendar. “It’s ideal in terms of location and timing and what is key is that 95% of visitors are directly involved in procurement decisions. It is ideal for promoting our range of hand-made saddles and being able to speak to potential new stockists,” she added. With the company having attended spoga for a number of years, the team could make direct comparisons on previous experience. Fortunately, everything was very positive. “There’s always a buzz at Spoga and this year was no different,” commented Victoria. “Everyone at Spoga is very positive so there’s a good vibe in and around the show. There was a consistent flow of visitors over the three days so we hardly had any downtime! Spoga also provides an opportunity to connect with potential suppliers as well as peers in the sector. Last year, Spoga was instrumental in helping us identify a number of new stockists in the Netherlands and Belgium and we hope to repeat this success this year within other countries across Europe.” Needless to say, the Frank Baines team will be visiting spoga again in the new year.
Having visited spoga numerous times over the past few years, Nicky Fletcher, managing director of Equisafety Ltd, decided the time was right to exhibit now that the company is selling across Europe. “I felt that this was the right time to be seen there and also meet people,” she explained. “There was a very nice, relaxed feel to the halls and the footfall was good. I was able to organise meetings prior to the event enabling me to catch up with my agents, and with wholesalers. I was also pleased with the amount of people that visited the stand.” Hoping to return to spoga in order to gain further exposure in Europe, Nicky found the whole high visibility range, including the Charlotte Dujardin Collection, was extremely well received.
A date for the diary
The next event on the calendar is spoga horse spring, which is scheduled to take place from February 4 – 6, 2018. Further information is available at: www.spogahorse.com.