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U-turn ‘damages credibility’ of B&B

Brands are worried Bread & Butter’s decision to cancel its Barcelona return has damaged its credibility, but mostly support its decision to stay in Berlin.

At Bread & Butter Berlin in July, founder Karl-Heinz Müller announced he was taking the show back to Barcelona on January 8-10, making it the season’s first event.

However, as Drapers reported last week, negative reaction from brands and buyers prompted him to cancel his plans. B&B will now run at Tempelhof Airport on January 19-21, at the same time as other Berlin shows including Seek, Premium and Panorama. Müller said the Seoul edition, pencilled in for September 3-5, 2015, will still take place.

A footwear veteran who shows brands at B&B every season said the Barcelona cancellation had damaged the event’s integrity. “This isn’t the first time B&B have changed their minds after making a poor decision.

“They haven’t done their credibility any good. What happens next time they make an announcement? Everyone will be thinking: ‘Will it happen? Best not commit yet in case they change their minds.’”

Last December the B&B founder announced plans to add two consumer-only days to the show in Berlin this July, but dropped the idea due to lack of support from exhibitors.

Ashley Cumming, UK agent for footwear brand Fly London, which exhibits at B&B, said the show was “lost” and he was delaying whether to sign for next season as a result of the uncertainty.

“I’m not sure if the move to Barcelona would have helped it, as it has already lost a lot of the big brands and its credibility. We will show somewhere in Berlin next season but we are waiting until the end of September to make our decision.”

Derek Bowen, European managing director of footwear brand Rocket Dog, said sticking to Berlin made “absolute sense.”

“When Karl-Heinz announced the move to Barcelona we were extremely surprised and disappointed. Moving would have fractured the good work done by all show organisers and brands that bring buyers to Berlin.”

However, some brands were disappointed by the cancellation. Sharon Frazer, sales manager at womenswear brand Glamorous, a B&B exhibitor, said: “For us the later dates don’t suit us as well and we are looking for a Spanish distributor so Barcelona would have been great. But I can understand why they are staying in Berlin as they may have been isolating themselves – would people really go to both?”

Ed Fife, partner at agency Index London, which represents brands including Baracuta and Spiewak at B&B, added: “B&B hasn’t been good for the last couple of seasons and the talk about Barcelona was positive as they usually put on a good show.”

Explaining his U-turn, Müller said: “Various discussions with the decision makers of our industry made clear that people rather want to stick to the current format.”

He issued an apology this week, saying: “I would like to apologise to our exhibitors, visitors and partners for the uncertainty and eventual inconveniences caused. I assure you that we will continue to work with full power on the further contemporary development of Bread & Butter.” Jill Geoghegan

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