German footwear show GDS is in urgent need of a shake-up as its importance wanes, according to buyers.
UK buyers from Stead & Simpson and Jones Bootmaker visited the comfort halls at the show in Dusseldorf last week, alongside buyers from footwear independent Pavers and classic retailers such as The Natural Shoe Store.
But buyers and exhibitors agreed that the show was losing its relevance and was being usurped by Italian footwear fair Micam.
Scholl national sales manager Tony Arquimbau said: "The show needs to be brought into a new era. It has got a bit stagnant, but it still makes sense to be here. There has to be a European comfort show and this is the best place for it."
Tony Evans, sales director of Gola Classics, said GDS had become a domestic show. "It has the ability to reinvent itself, but there just isn't a buzz around GDS," he said.
However, the exodus of big brand names such as Ecco and Clarks, as well as the event's position late in the show calendar, added to buyer apathy. Simeon Marsh, buyer for Brighton indie Sole Solution, said: "Time-wise, it's two or three weeks later than we want it to be."
GDS said visitor numbers rose 5% to more than 33,000 against last year.