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This week, the panel discuss the impact the COVID-19 crisis will have on industry trade-shows

If you missed the first in our series of Q&A sessions please click here for a reminder of week one's panel discussion surrounding the future of retail for bricks & mortar indies...

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Q: How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected the planning of the next round of INDX trade-shows?

VC: "In a nutshell, the severity of the pandemic and the changing retail landscape means that we are planning for a range of potential scenarios including new dates, smaller scale events and digital trade shows. It is unhelpful to speculate so to prevent any knee-jerk reactions we have collectively decided not to announce any definitive decisions about our next round of shows until we can be certain of the outcome".

JC: "Fortunately, we have the advantage that we own our exhibition venue (Cranmore Park) which means that we are able to maintain a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to implementing change, even at the last minute! To reiterate what Varsha said, behind the scenes we are exploring all the options but the safety of our visitors and staff will remain paramount".

AA: "As a group of trade-shows we are renowned for our buyer and business focused approach and INDX very much operates in partnership within a strong industry network. As such, we will continue to be driven by our community and we will make any decisions about the shows in line with the AIS Membership, our suppliers and the requirements of the independent sector overall".

FD: "As buyers ourselves, we are ‘in the thick of it’ and we have a direct knowledge of the challenges our industry is currently facing. Right now, there is a huge level of uncertainty within our sector so as Amanda has said, as our main priority, we will continue to work closely with our buyers and suppliers to ensure INDX supports their needs primarily".

Q: Do you think the Pandemic will affect the future of trade-shows in general?

VC: "Trade-shows offer an invaluable overview of the industry and nothing will be able to replicate that. I’m sure going forward retailers will be appraising the relevance of the shows they visit which is why as organisers, we will continue to ensure that the INDX shows evolve to meet their requirements".

JC: "We have always been focused on ensuring the business relevance of INDX and each show is curated with buyers from the independent sector in mind. We are careful to offer an inclusive exhibitor selection which meets all market levels and maintain an exclusive admission policy which protects the integrity of the show... I’m confident that the INDX shows will continue to be an integral part of our retailers and suppliers’ businesses".

FD: "Although we may need to make short-term adjustments, in the longer- term nothing beats bringing together buyers and suppliers in a face to face capacity. INDX provides an informal and friendly environment and we have a very loyal buyer footfall for whom the shows represent an un-pressured opportunity to see new labels and meet key suppliers."

AA: "Fashion needs to be felt and, in some cases, seen on the body and there’s no better opportunity than a trade-show to compare and contrast ranges side by side. I believe that within our industry trade-shows will always be important but in the immediate future, at INDX we recognise that we will have to be flexible and that the shows may look and feel very different for a while… we have come to know our visiting buyers very well and they are quick to tell us what they want and need from the shows – this partnership will be key to our future success"