In July 2008, B&B co-founder Karl-Heinz Müller relaunched 14 oz, his own retail store for premium jeanswear and related brands.
TITLE UNITED NATIONS OF BREAD & BUTTER
SLOGAN Nations of Bread & Butter - unite!
DATES January 21-23, 2009
The previous incarnation had been in Cologne, but he had closed it when he relocated B&B to Berlin in the early days to concentrate on building the event. The new version of his store was in Mitte, the fashion district of Berlin.
Müller knew something others didn’t. The January 2009 event at Barcelona was to be the eighth and last to be held in the cultural capital of Spain. Rumours had been running around for some months that a move was on the cards, but confirmation did not come until the last day of the 16th edition. The new venue in July was to be the disused Tempelhof airport, back in Berlin.
Despite the recession beginning to bite, the mood at the final Barcelona show was generally upbeat. As Pan Philippou, then chief executive of Firetrap owner WDT, observed: “The show provides a group comforting session for the trade…”
While some UK retailers skipped the show, went for fewer days or sent smaller teams, for internationally minded British brands the potency of B&B was undiminished. “In terms of pushing sales on a global scale, B&B is still essential,” said Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton, who, as usual, presided over a mobbed stand at the fair.
With 800 exhibitors and almost 80,000 visits from more than 100 nationalities, the Spanish swansong was a powerful reminder of how far B&B had come since 50 exhibitors attracted 5,000 visitors to an old engineering factory in Cologne seven-and-half years before.
On the return to Germany, Müller explained: “We have grown up in Barcelona. Nothing went wrong here, but the market is boss and the market is king. This is what guides us and leads us. We were in Cologne three times, Berlin eight times and Barcelona eight times. I believe this is a life cycle.”
On the stands, buyers backed the loudest till-ringing brands such as Firetrap and Superdry, with scant interest in finding some new names to break.
I have so many memories of Bread & Butter including sporting my “England 5 - Germany 1” T-shirt in January 2002 after the win in Munich a few months earlier. My Firetrap Germany colleagues didn’t seem to appreciate the humour - nor did our customers. During the last BBBarcelona my passport was stolen and I spent a night in the British Consulate getting a replacement. Then, back in Berlin, I planned to entertain 60 Boxfresh guests on a boat tour, but my office had booked the wrong day. We ended up in a grotty pizza bar.