Key dealers and suppliers have been reacting to the news of Trade Days’ closure, with some saying they are not surprised that the event was scrapped after just five shows.
Organisers confirmed this week that Trade Days will not return in 2019 after weeks of speculation about its future.
John Payne, managing director of Kent Mobility, said he was “sorry” to read the news that the show has closed but added that after last year he is “not surprised”.
“If you look at Medtrade in the US and Rehacare in Germany, these make our show look a little sad,” he said. “I feel the retail market is a little slow and I think we are all waiting to see if the personal wheelchair budgets do flow out the retail trade. I have my doubts in any numbers.
“I think this has depressed the retail market and has showed a lack of interest in these type of shows. Plus, smaller retail outlets are away for a day, possibly [resulting in a] loss of sales.”
Richard Holland-Oakes, managing director of specialist dealer, Recare, believes that Trade Days lost its emphasis over the years.
He said that while the initial idea of holding it over a Sunday and Monday was a good one to encourage smaller retailers to attend, in later years that cost of being there compared to what delegates got out of it did not add up.
“Last year, there was nothing really new to talk about and after walking around for half an hour you had pretty much seen anything.
“I think David Russell [BHTA Engage’s former editorial director, who set up the show] was originally trying to make Trade Days a bit like a Medtrade, where the trade came to look at medical products. I think what they need to do is to broaden the idea of Trade Days a bit. I’m not surprised it is where it is and that they’ve pulled the plug.
“I have to say this is no different to Naidex. Naidex used to be huge but we now have little shows doing little things. If you look at scooters, basic wheelchairs and rollators, a lot of people will buy those products over the internet. They’ve become consumable products. People aren’t going to travel to shows to buy products they can get over the internet.”
Despite the closure of Trade Days and complaints over the number of delegates, demand for such an event still exists.
Ableworld’s managing director, Mike Williams, said that he was “very disappointed” to see the demise of Trade Days and added that he “strongly believes” the industry needs a trade-only mobility exhibition on top of Naidex.
He said: “However, I do accept that any business needs the back-up of the trade and was disappointed at last year’s attendance by suppliers and retailers.”
Similarly, Charles Wall, managing director at Camelot Furniture, believes the industry has failed to pull together in recent years.
He said: “All of the show organisers just want it all from themselves and they should pull together in the sense of the care, the home care, the mobility industry and further afield to cater for everyone.
“This is because at the moment we have ended up with what is a watered down version of trade shows. What I would like to see is fewer shows but shows that cater for the whole industry at once as it then makes sense for people to travel and make the effort to attend.
“The other thing is that if you look at the January Furniture Show, it charges a fraction of the price in comparison to the likes of Naidex and others. Why is this? Surely the wider industry could pull together and allow everyone to benefit and get more out of trade shows in the long run.”
Gemma Hirst, director of supplier MyWren, said on social media that she felt last year’s Trade Days seemed like a “tag on” to the Pharmacy Show next door.
“This was a big problem,” she said. “There was a large number of members of the public walking through from the Pharmacy Show.
“They didn’t do enough to attract the largest scooter and wheelchair suppliers and without them it was hard to encourage the trade to travel too far or attract smaller suppliers to exhibit. I agree it was at the wrong time of year often clashing with Rehacare.”