Feb 21, 2010
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British Bridal Exhibition launches retail seminars

Feb 21, 2010

As the leading trade show for the bridal industry, the British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate (BBEH) showcases the best for the coming season and attracts buyers from across the country and retailers from around the world. With the growth in competition and an increasingly sophisticated, internet-savvy audience however, retailers are finding there’s more to running a successful bridal shop than keeping ahead of the latest trends. Hence BBEH’s programme of business seminars which will launch at the March 2010 show.

Photo: www.bbeh.co.uk

The twice-yearly BBEH is Europe’s key bridal event, where retailers flock to browse and buy from the very latest in bridalwear, occasionwear, menswear and accessories. The September 2009 show saw a 5% increase in visitors, proof that despite the economic downturn and negative press regarding marriage statistics, the bridal market is in great shape.

At the upcoming March event, retailers will not only see the Autumn/Winter 2010 collections, but will also be able to take part in a series of business seminars, tailor-made specifically for retailers in the weddingwear sector.

Wendy Adams, Event Director and Head of Bridal for organisers Ocean Media, has been running BBEH since its inception, 25 years ago, and there can be few people in the industry with her knowledge of the needs of both her exhibitors and the show’s many thousands of visitors.

“Over the years the industry has changed dramatically and today it is the retailers who understand the need to invest in marketing and promotion and who approach their business as professionals - that are moving forward. Knowledge is the most valuable commodity, and our March seminars have been designed expressly to give retailers much-needed support through expert advice,” says Wendy.

At the BBEH seminars (held in the Harrogate Exhibition Centre’s Queen’s Suite on Monday 15 March), top names in the industry will tackle topics that affect the daily running of a bridal shop.

Web stalwarts, Keren Alderson and Tim Smith, founders of digital specialists I Do I Do, will discuss how to create and maintain an effective website, how to respond to comment in forums, and the benefits of social media.

“For many brides, choosing their dream dress is all about the experience. The setting must be right, from the lighting and seating, to the colour scheme and displays; get the smallest detail wrong, and that could be the deciding factor about whether a return visit is in order,” says Wendy, which is why she considered a design seminar to be crucial. She recruited Peter Cunningham of Design CLD, specialists in retail interiors and branding. In his presentation he will focus on simple low-cost design changes that will have a positive impact on sales, and will also demonstrate how to move beyond the basics to give the customer something extra in a way that that will add brand value and increase profit.

The third BBEH seminar will focus on the more on the technical side of retailing, and the necessary systems that can manage the changing needs of customers. “More often than not today, members of the wedding party are spread out geographically and have different time constraints,” Wendy explains. “Retailers need to be able to effectively track requirements and assemble them into a coherent and foolproof form before placing orders with their suppliers.” Xedo, she felt, understand this problem. The company initially developed software for ACS Clothing, parent company of Cameron Ross, to manage their grooms’ formal hire business. It included a highly advanced retail order management system which integrated into Cameron Ross’s order processing systems. Now Xedo has developed a bridal version which will allow retailers to record customer data including the dresses and accessories they have tried on or ordered and details relating to the wedding itself. The system also calculates the correct dress size (from bust/waist/hip measurements) and electronically manages all purchase orders to suppliers.

Editor of Bridal Buyer, Susi Rogol, knows why this format works for the retailers. “With all this support in place to help retailers build a better business, plus more than 250 collections to view, daily catwalk shows and the Bridal Buyer Awards 2010, Harrogate is where the industry will assemble in March. There is no question about that.”

To visit Europe’s largest bridal trade show, visit www.bbeh.co.uk where you can also enter into a prize draw to win a goody bag worth £1,500.

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