Sizzling temperatures didn’t deter buyers from making the trip to the NEC for Footwear UK this week, despite early apprehension from some exhibitors On the hottest few days of the year, buyers looked round the air-conditioned show in comfort while thunderstorms threatened outside and the heatwave continued to boost late sales of summer shoes and sandals back home on the high street.

Nobody was grumbling about the heat on the Shoes South Afrcia stand which was buzzing with interest throughout the three days. Seven new footwear brands offering in stock were launched into the UK market at the show and Graeme Jenkins said it was certainly a good show for us with an increase in the multiple buyers there, so we’re very happy.

Merrell had their usual keen following with the stand sometimes overflowing with visitors, likewise everyone at re-vamped Scholl seemd to have been kept busy from the start, with visible enthusiasm for the new generation of the famous 1960s exercise sandals. Rombah Wallace were smiling with their new designer at the helm showing her debut range under the new Adria ownership and Gordon Smart of The Gordon Smart Partnership/Josef Seibel said he was delighted with each of the three days. ‘Timing affects different people differently; the point of this show is to enthuse and educate as early as possible in the buying season. The timing of Footwear UK for us is good and we saw a large proportion of quality and high volume retailers on the stand.’

Some exhibitors were suggesting a preference for earlier or later show dates but overall most appeared up-beat and happy with the way the show had gone for them. Mark Turner reported a ‘really good show’ with the launch of the Emotion brand, described by one buyer as ‘a breath of fresh air’ and all set to make an impact with a range of young and fashionable shoes in a wider fitting.

The extension from two days to the current three day show running alongside MODA remains an area of debate for a few brands, with the cross-over of buyers continuing to be of potential benefit to some but not all footwear brands. Show Director David Wilkins sees it as a partnership between organisers and exhibitors. ‘The decisions we make are directly the result of exhibitor feedback and the present format of the three days is showing a significantly higher attendance than when it was a two day show – even excluding MODA visitor figures over the last three shows. It is pleasing to know that a lot of the multiples attend the show on the Tuesday. After seven seasons and more than double the square metres of stands since the start, Footwear UK is now the main event in the UK industry calendar.’