24/09/2021

Fitness and Sports shows

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I presented a paper at an industry event and one of my audience approached me after to ask that I meet up with he and his partner and consider grooming their events for onward sale. The two guys had created and developed a specialist magazine Sports Industry that focussed on all aspects of sporting venue facilities – sports surfaces, exercise equipment, changing room facilities, membership systems… Based upon the magazine they had launched an exhibition European Fitness Convention which was growing in size and they hoped it might be of interest for acquisition by a larger organising company.

Fitness and Sports business cards
with visitor ticket

I spent some time with their accounts and budgeting system to draw it in line with the normal approach for shows and we talked through how to proceed. The big event in their sector was Leisure Industry Week owned by a major competitive publisher. But as is often the case in these trade sectors the inter-relationship was good with both advertising with the other, and both getting contra stands from the other.

We discussed with LIW their acquiring ‘Fitness’ but we ended up getting more interest from Montgomery Exhibitions, who were on one of their acquisition quests, and they bought the event.

ASIDE: There was an interesting nexus when I became involved with their next event at Earls Court (Level Two Brompton Hall). They asked me to become their event director, my wife Jane ran the organiser office, our son Matt was, somewhat coincidentally, in charge of the security contractor and an unrelated Steve Denton worked with the registration contractor – it must have felt like something of a Denton takeover.

Gerald Ratner turned up at the show. He had, early in the 1990s, made an unfortunate speech at the Institute of Directors when he called his products ‘total crap’ adding they were ‘cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long’. Perhaps unsurprisingly he had shifted his attention more recently, and opened a health club in Henley-on-Thames.

Ratner turned up at our entrance to Earls Court with his car and essentially demanded a car-park slot to attend the show – the arrogance of the man was almost impressive if it was not so offensive.

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