Opinion

UKTI New York trade mission diary: Day 2 – Finding out the motivation behind trade shows

7 min read

01 February 2016

Former editor

As the UKTI-led trade mission Real Business has joined begins to gather steam, we found out why British businesses have decided to journey 3,500 miles to showcase products to a US audience.

In the first instalment from our trade mission diaries, Real Business revealed what the purpose of the trip was and what we are hoping to share with our readers over the coming days and weeks. If you missed day one, then please head over and have a read.

Day two was all about the NY NOW trade show, held twice a year in the Javits Convention Center in New York. It is centred on the home, lifestyle and gift market in the US, and over 400 product categories and in excess of 2,500 companies are on display.

Figures from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) indicate that the US accounts for almost 30 per cent of the world’s consumer market, and has an expenditure of $10tn. On top of that, the US is the UK’s largest export market and demand for British products in the US continues to be strong.

The ten exciting SMEs Real Business has joined on the trade mission are not presenting at NY NOW, but are using it as a way to see what is going on in respective sectors and forge new partnerships. However, there was an opportunity for products to be showcased at the British Jewellery and Giftware International stand – part of the NY NOW British Pavilion.

The trade delegation as one walked over to the Javits Convention Center, in the west side of Manhattan and located by the Hudson River. All were armed with product samples and demos, ready to meet with possible partners and stockists.

Trade shows are often a fairly daunting place when you first walk in, a sea of booths staffed by people eager to show of their wares. If you’re simply visiting a show, Real Business suggests you go with a realistic plan of what you’d like to see – and more importantly focus on.

We were keen to go and meet all of the businesses displaying at the British Pavilion. Knowing what you want to achieve from investing your time and money in appearing at a trade show is pivotal, and over the next week or so we’ll be revealing just what motivated British firms to do just that at NY NOW. We’ll also be asking what each suggest is the best way to make sure that investment is worthwhile.

We chatted with Emma Jones and her business MyBunjee, a company which appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2012 and secured an investment from Peter Jones. Despite it only being day one of NY NOW, Jones was dealing with lost of interested individuals – hopeful that her time at the show would provide some new buyers.

There was also Chrissie Probert-Jones and Eat Sleep Doodle. The business is a veteran of trade shows like NY NOW, and Probert-Jones knows all about carving out business in US. Her best piece of advice was to make sure you have a US warehouse, as most buyers won’t be interested if that hasn’t yet been set up.

Brighton-based Paladone has a US office in Florida, and the 21 year-old wholesale gift supplier is now turning over £20m. Speaking with marketing manager Alex Ryan, he explained how busy the Christmas period had been for the company and how well the company’s products resonate with the US market.

Victoria Eggs and her self-entitled business have made use of UKTI, using the organisation’s financial and logistical support to make trade shows like NY NOW more feasible.

It was fascinating to see the great range of gift and jewellery businesses on display at the British Pavilion. The powerful Made in Britain brand was evident in many, showing how much value is placed on products produced within our shores.

Read more about New York:

From the show on the west side of Manhattan, it was off to the top of the Empire State Building. It was here that Real Business was able to see how big the New York market is. Stretching across five boroughs (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan), the population totals nearly nine million.

It is an increasingly multicultural city, with great spending power and a recognition of the value associated with British products.

Having left the trade mission SMEs alone in the afternoon, Real Business had the chance to sit down with Norwegian Air and its head of sales in the UK Dominic Tucker. The airline is keen to inform the business community in the South East of England about its low-cost and flexible offering. Our interview with Tucker will be available next week and include much more detail about the offering.

The evening provided an opportunity for the trade delegation to unite. We sat down for dinner at our hotel, the New Yorker A Wyndham, and everyone caught up on what they’d achieved that day.

Real Business sat next to Tony Brown, founder and managing director of Sportpax. His business produces sport-themed kids backpacks – with american football offerings sure to resonate well with US buyers. Brown had already set up meetings with lots of promising buyers, but was ready to hit the major retailers cold the next day.

Day three of the trade mission will see us visit the British consulate and chat with Martin Cook, US director at UKTI. We’ll also get a chance to quiz Chancellor May from Bank of America and John Gordon from USA Corporate Services.

Be sure to tune in for more details!