NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, England – Two major British antiques fair promoters are competing heavily for vendors and attendees by targeting one another’s customer base and rewriting the circuit’s calendar of events.
Show promoters International Antiques & Collectors Fair (IACF) rocked the British antiques trade Aug. 21 by announcing that they were resurrecting a show at the RAF Swinderby Air Base just weeks after Arthur Swallow Fairs moved from the base to a new location five miles west.
The IACF show will be held Oct. 8 – the very same day as the Arthur Swallow Fairs’ new show on the recently developed Lincoln Showground. Arthur Swallow Fairs plans to hold its new show six times a year.
Richard Burgoin, co-director of Arthur Swallow Fairs said the move was “mandated by the eventual redevelopment of Swinderby into a sand and gravel quarry by the land owners, Cemex who had recently filed a plan with the local jurisdiction for the change in operations.
“Our lease at RAF Swinderby was to end in March 2010,” Burgoin said. “Our information and assessment was, and remains, that the entire site is to be substantially disrupted shortly afterward. We therefore took an early opportunity to relocate and upgrade the event – after all, the weather always made October to February our most vulnerable period. We just don’t see how IACF can possibly sustain the event as advertised – either physically or financially.”
Lincolnshire Showgrounds is an established show site with a new $12 million exhibition center. There is also free parking and a large area for outdoor spaces. Add that Arthur Swallow Fairs will still have their regular food vendors; the promoters believe the change will assure more success for the future.
Following the Arthur Swallow Fairs announcement, IACF, Ltd. co-owners Robert “Digger” Thomas and Keith Harris announced they will be leasing the Swinderby Field and starting its own show on similar dates as the traditional Arthur Swallow Fairs show dates. Earlier this year, IACF purchased the dmg antiques fairs, which include the very well known Newark [Newark] International Antiques and Collectors Fair held six times a year and five other venues in the U.K. (Ed.-see page 5 in this issue.)
IACF also announced that they are guaranteed an absolute minimum of two years’ continued availability of the existing base runway areas. Actual availability was expected to extend beyond that – if not on the runways then elsewhere on the site.
“dmg (Newark) spent years trying to rid themselves of the distraction of the Swinderby show,” Thomas said. “But there was always a demand for the two. It is IACF’s good fortune that, with at least two years left in the tank, Swallow Fairs handed us Swinderby on a plate.
The events now complement rather than compete, with substantial savings being introduced for anyone doing both.”
Newark is held at the Newark Show Grounds, Nottinghamshire, UK, on the Thursday and Friday prior to the first Saturday of even numbered months, except in October when it is a week later.
Swinderby was formed in 1994 by Peter and Heather Burgoin as a competitor and alternative to Newark. Burgoin, in typically dry English humor, named his company Arthur Swallow Fairs believing that for dmg the new show would be “hard to swallow.” His show is on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Newark.
The two shows, only about five miles from one site to the other, have both thrived and grown in the 15 years since the competition began. Even in the last few years of difficult sales they have continued to be the strongest market place in Europe and an especially strong market for American dealers, decorators and collectors to find inventory, and décor.
Now with the changes IACF will have the Swinderby site on Tuesday and will be continuing their Newark Show on Thursday and Friday. Arthur Swallow Fairs will have Tuesday and Wednesday at the new site in Lincoln. These will only be complicated for the exhibiting dealers who will now have to choose at which show or combination of shows to exhibit. For the customers, it will be no contest; they will surely visit all and have the luxury to shop till they drop!
Upcoming dates for IACF Swinderby are Oct. 6 and Newark Oct. 8-9. Arthur Swallow Fairs Lincoln Antiques Fair will be Oct. 6-7. A winter show will be held Dec. 1-4.