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High costs and market consolidation burst Bubble

High costs of exhibiting and consolidation in the kidswear sector contributed to the closure of leading trade show Bubble.

Bubble was part of trade exhibition organiser ITE, and had run for more than a decade. It said that consolidation of the kidswear industry led to the show’s closure.

However, brands and agents, while lamenting the closure of the show, told Drapers interest from exhibitors had waned in recent seasons as a result of the high cost of taking space at the show, and many opt to exhibit instead at European rivals such as Playtime Paris. The next edition of Playtime is on 30 June to 2 July.

One agent said the cost of taking space at Bubble was up to 40% higher than comparable shows in Europe: “This year we doubted whether we were getting enough benefit from Bubble in the first place. The cost of holding exhibitions in London is huge, and venues can charge almost what they want. A lot of brands were going to Playtime Paris instead.”

One brand said the show had been quieter in recent seasons: “It has been a lot quieter over the last year to 18 months, and the brand mix had changed. The Spanish and Peruvian governments had been funding brands to come, and the feedback we heard from buyers was that though the products were fine in quality, the show had become very Spanish.”

Linda Gill, sales agent for kidswear brand Kissy Kissy, was disappointed Bubble closed: “I think for us as a brand it’s a shame. We have supported the show for several years, and have always done very well there. [Bubble] couldn’t have handled the news any better. They said any money owed would be reimbursed immediately.”

Kathryn Shuttleworth, managing director of children’s outwear specialist Grass & Air said that, having attended the show for the first time in January, Bubble filled an important niche in the UK kidswear market: “It did seem like an institution and it is very sad that it is no longer.

“The knock-on effect is that the closure reduces the showcasing opportunities. It is very difficult in an independent market to get anything centrally organised. The European shows seem intended for much bigger organisations than ours, so will have to look at it a little bit more.”

In a statement, Bubble event director Lindsay Hoyes said: “The childrenswear industry has changed hugely over the last ten years, and throughout that time we’ve grown and developed the show to reflect those changes.

“Over the last twelve months, however, it has become clear that the scale of today’s industry, and the budgets available to individual brands, make it difficult for the kidswear market to support a major national event such as Bubble London. We’ve therefore made the decision to close the show rather than compromise the values that Bubble London has come to represent.”





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