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Pitti Bimbo hit by credit crunch

Visitor numbers to European kidswear event Pitti Bimbo fell slightly from 8,100 to 7,647 this season reflecting tougher trading in some parts of the continent.

International visitors numbers at Pitti Bimbo were flat at 3,062 making up 40% of the total. The number of domestic visitors to the show was slightly down according to organisers Pitti Immagine.

UK based brands and UK agents exhibiting at Pitti Bimbo reported very few UK buyers on the ground. Tony Ridewood agent for Cacherel said: "All the London department stores have been here. But I think it is fair to say that I have seen significantly less independent retailers than this time last year."

Pitti Bimbo said 134 British buyers visited the event against 155 last year. However UK brands showing at Pitti Bimbo were happy with the event. Most said it still provided the best shop window to international retail buyers.

Lucy Enfield, director of first time exhibitor I Love Gorgeous, said: "The first group on our stand when we opened up was Barneys in New York and they placed an order. We have also seen Le Bon Marche in Paris and they re-ordered and we have made some very useful international contacts so it has been well worthwhile."

Jennifer McGonigle, director of boys casualwear brand Ollie, said: "We have got two new Russian customers and found a Russian distributor as well as signing two Italian agents. I am very happy with what we have done. It's been a good business and marketing exercise which is the way you have to think of shows like this now. We will certainly be back for the forseeable future."

The biggest tranche of international buyers to Pitti Bimbo still comes from Spain which attracted 368 visitors but that was a drop from 458 last year. Germany attracted 326 visitors down from 337. The strength of the Euro was blamed for the drop in US buyers from 105 to 83 this year. The biggest growth market was Korea which attracted 68 buyers versus 34 in 2008. The number of Russian buyers held steady at 167

Pitti Bimbo is to re-align its dates next season to show on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday from January 22 to January 24. Traditionally the event has has run from Friday to Sunday. The move will align it with Pitti Uomo which already shows on those days of the week.

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