The proposed event would still require the government to change its current policy on mass gatherings to be able to go ahead.
Play-Room’s Miles Penhallow has confirmed to Toy World that the buying group has been working on plans to hold a buying event at the end of September, which would effectively replace the traditional trade show it runs each year. Miles told Toy World: “It is our intention to hold a focused, appointment-only, buying event at Cranmore Park in Solihull at the end of September. We appreciate that under current Government guidelines, we would not be able to hold this event, but we believe that it is prudent to plan accordingly, under the assumption that restrictions could be lifted further before the end of September. This event would provide an opportunity for our suppliers to meet with members face to face, while abiding by social distancing guidelines. Our Health & Safety team has developed a layout which ensures social distancing can be maintained, which means there would be a limit on the number of booths that we could accommodate. We would also need to limit sales people to one per booth.”
This buying event would differ significantly from the traditional show: a reduced number of companies – likely to be no more than 30 or 40 – would occupy booths measuring 4m x 4m, set 2m apart and each with a Perspex screen. A one-way system would also be in operation, while meetings would need to be pre-arranged. There would be no displays and suppliers would be advised to bring minimal product – the set-up would be more like a meeting room than the usual trade show product-led approach.
It is thought that attendance is likely be limited to Play-Room members only, although the event could potentially be opened up to other retailers if there is sufficient capacity in the schedule to allow additional attendees.
Miles also confirmed that while there is an appetite for the buying event from Play-Room’s members and its suppler base, question marks remain as to whether the event can proceed: “Trade shows are still banned under the current guidelines. We would need that guidance to change before the event can take place, and we would also need confirmation of the number of people we would be allowed to accommodate per square metre. We are working on the assumption that the government won’t allow trade shows to take place until we reach level 2, which means there would need to be no evidence that a second wave of the virus is likely to happen. However, we have set provisional dates for the event during week commencing 28th September, in the hope that the situation evolves over the coming weeks. If it cannot go ahead, we would cancel at least two weeks beforehand, and no supplier will be invoiced until we have a guarantee that the show can take place.”
Miles concluded: “We believe this could turn out to be a valuable ‘socially distanced’ face to face selling opportunity for the toy trade this autumn, and we would be proud to host this event in support of the independent trade, which needs all of our support during this challenging trading period.”