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EFTTEX: Is it time for change?

The European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) has had its critics over the years but its latest event in June saw a decline in numbers and more dissenting voices. What is its future?

As the curtain came down on the 38th EFTTEX show in Brussels amid a drop in both exhibitors and trade buyers, TTW identified a simmering undercurrent of concern.

On the outside, EFTTEX is THE European show to be at but, faced with falling attendances and CEO Jean-Claude Bel due to retire in October, have these issues come to a head and is it time for some changes?

TTW talked to exhibitors and visitors, asking what they want to see organising body EFTTA (the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association) put into place to safeguard the future of this historic three-day event – once the global meeting place for the industry – and attract more visitors?

Joe Meehan American Tackle President

There is always room for improvement but we had a great show overall. We attend ICAST, China Fish and EFTTEX during the year, however all the shows are compared to ICAST, which is tough to beat, but we like to have realistic expectations for each show individually.

Is June a good time of year to have the EFTTEX show? I don’t know. I’m sure I heard there was a study done where EFTTA asked exhibitors, dealers and distributors what venue and time of year was best. There was no consensus if I recollect. Maybe it’s time for a new study?

How can we make it cheaper and more attractive for visitors? Maybe the manufactures could offer lower costs for orders written at the show? Everyone has to pull together to bring customers in.

Advertising to the trade is key, and maybe EFTTA could help the exhibitors with an outreach programme to get their customers to the show?

We made a decision that we could not afford to miss the show. One customer can make or break attending. You never know who’s going to walk onto your booth and seal a big deal that more than covers the costs.

We love the shows in Eastern Europe. It gives us the opportunity to see customers and potential customers that don’t attend the western European shows. Budapest was a great show for us. We think Prague is going to be great as well. They’re less costly usually and Prague is a big draw with a great reputation and an attractive venue. We’re going to attend.

Simon Henton Zebco-Europe

EFTTEX is an exhibition I have exhibited at many times, and visited many other times, over the last 30 years. It is a shame to see an industry event like this losing its popularity and its relevance to the industry year after year. Declining visitor and exhibitor numbers seems to becoming a spiral of decline, which shows no sign of changing.

EFTTA does a lot of good work (although there is always more to do) for our industry. Without the income stream from EFTTEX this work would rapidly decrease and maybe even cease altogether.

Talking to other visitors and former exhibitors there is a clear desire to retain an industry showcase but, in its current format, EFTTEX is not delivering it. Now in its 38th year the exhibition has not evolved significantly whilst the market has changed immeasurably. The changing geographical location of the

exhibition each year does not seem to be the issue (and in fact I see it as a positive) and the organisation of the show is professional and slick.

In my mind the major issue is the timing; too late for the manufacturers who would probably prefer spring, and too early for the distributors who would prefer autumn. It is difficult to know which one to choose but, for sure, the summer is wrong for both. Other issues like how the show is promoted and whether it is paid or free entry will flow from the decision about whether it is an exhibition primarily for manufacturers or primarily for wholesalers? That will define the target audience and the rest can flow from there.

Nigel May Dinsmores 

Dinsmores was very pleased with EFTTEX. Although the visitor numbers may have been down, we saw most of the key people we wanted to.  We are a manufacturer selling predominantly to distributors in every country of Europe. We saw those people and met some potential new ones.

For us, with the possibilities of lead restrictions being adopted by the whole of Europe, we have an added amount of interest in our non-toxic range of shot and weights, as we are the leaders in this area.

EFTTEX is a show for manufacturers to build relationships with their wholesalers and distributors. This is exactly what it does. What is important is not the number of visitors but the quality. We would prefer EFTTEX to stay in just one place, preferably Amsterdam, as that is central and convenient for us and our customers. We are happy!

Hans Maasbøl CEO Svendsen Sport  

This year, Svendsen Sport participated at EFTTEX with a 221sq m stand. During the show, we had quite a lot of visitors – both customers and suppliers. The first day was our busiest, where most of the meeting tables were in action. The strategy for our company was to have plenty of space to show relevant, new product and to have implemented the big casting pool on the front of our stand to attract some attention. In other words, we wanted to give our visitors a good, entertaining experience and more awareness around our different brands.

Even though we had quite a lot of visitors to our stand, the overall experience was a little bit different if we looked overall at the exhibition. Friday and especially Saturday was missing visitors and a lot of stands were, sorry to say, missing action.

EFTTEX is vitally important for the industry and everyone that’s involved should really support this international event and EFTTA. This would benefit all companies in the tackle business, creating interest and awareness not only for the retailers but also for the end-consumers.

But for EFTTEX to stay relevant, some changes must be made. Without changing ways of organising, the show will become more and more irrelevant.  We need to introduce special events, which will create a much higher desire to visit the event. We, as exhibitors, especially need the retailers to be attending in a much higher degree.

We need to ask the question, what value does EFTTEX bring to the visitors? The show should not only be about products and Best New Product awards. Every exhibitor, large or small, should have a chance to shine and tell their story.

Why not…

– Facilitate a fishing fashion show?

– Have speakers like Jeremy Wade, Jakub Vagner, Matt Hayes, Adam Penning or Sean Wit come and talk about their fishing experiences? This is a great opportunity for journalists to get new contacts and get strong content for magazines.

– Have talks about new opportunities in the digital world. The Fishbrain app? How to work with social media? Figures on today’s consumer behaviour? Is the world going 100 per cent digital, should we hold on to printed media or perhaps a combination of medias? How well is the fish population doing in a global context?

How about bringing experts in to talk about the effects of in-store solutions and new ways of displaying products or global marketing trends?

This way it would become a more relevant as an innovative and modern show, developing the angling industry in a positive direction. We still believe in a successful industry with powerful brands and close partnerships. Bringing our forces together would definitely set the course for a prosperous future.

Finally, EFTTEX is very much relevant and we are happy to participate each year at this great event. New times just need new measures.

Jean Claude Bel EFTTA CEO 

From my own point of view, the atmosphere during the show was a positive one, business-wise. Both myself and EFTTA membership director, Jacques Prallet, visited many exhibitors who were satisfied with the quality of the contacts that visited their stands, despite the strange economic environment and the weak performances, last year and this year, of major European markets, the political situation, the Brexit wonders, the US import policy and the decline of the Chinese industry.

It could always be better however, with acquisitions and mergers, EFTTEX lost a couple of big stands. Of course we have the usual small percentage of moaners and groaners where it is usually always the same year after year. [These people] are not satisfied with various things no matter what we do because they do not generate good business at EFTTEX. Instead of accusing the show they should perhaps first of all identify what it is that they themselves could be doing better.

None of them came to the Annual General Assembly to express their constructive views and ideas, which is disappointing – however I am used to that.

I’ve been asked the same questions a number of times on how to change and improve the show. Questions such as changing the dates, opening it to the public, free entrance to increase attendance and so on. We have explored all of those matters during the last couple of years and yet no consensus has been reached justifying any major changes. It is true that business models have changed mainly for bigger companies and maybe a trade show does not suit their strategies anymore. Ultimately we respect their decisions but the question is – is it wise to take big risks in a tough economical period?

We would be interested in your views, email john.watson@dhpub.co.uk

Author: Simon Calvert

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