Who’s Next Première Classe: positive turnout, positive numbers
The trade show organiser WSN Développement is currently undergoing a deep restructuring, including for its trade show Première Classe, and the hope was that the edition of the trade show that ran from September 7 to 10 at the Porte de Versailles would bear the first fruits of this labour. Judging by the response from the various teams working at the trade fair and the generally positive tone of the event over its four days, this proved to be the case.
After its overhaul a year ago with the September 2017 edition that managed to turn around the downward trend in visitors, Who’s Next Première Classe saw an increase in visitors this September. According to the organiser, a total of 43,500 people visited the exhibition over the four days it ran for, a 3.2 percent increase compared to the year before. This is not a huge increase and certain rooms such as Hall 4, which focused on urban clothing and accessories, at times lacked an adequate number of visitors. However, this increase in visitors confirms the trend towards returning to growth.
The increase in visitors was made possible thanks to the French contingent, at the expense of the international visitors. French representatives made up 69 percent of the total visitors, compared to 65 percent in September last year. One of the reasons for this is the timing of the trade fair: by September, many export buyers have already made their purchases earlier in the summer. Out of the top five countries international buyers hail from, the top four remained unchanged from last year with Italy at the top ahead of Spain, followed by Belgium and then Japan. However, Switzerland pushed the UK out of fifth place.
“There are mixed feelings amongst exhibitors but for us internationally-focused brands, September is far too late in the buyers’ schedule… I would favour July but I know there are also those that favour September, it’s the eternal debate,” said Carole Deleuse-Gojon, director of operations for the brand Suncoo. Another contested issue for the organisers WSN Développement is if they want to follow market developments.
While still deciding whether or not to reopen the debate around the dates of the summer fair, the trade show enjoyed another increase this season. There was a 4 percent increase in the number of brands compared to the September before and over 1,400 brands in total. This increase was made possible by the widening of the product categories represented at the event. This season, new spaces were dedicated to beauty, various urban accessories, fine jewellery, and beachwear. A new “concept store” approach was well-received by both visitors and the organisers alike and proved to be the most inspiring aspect of this season and the most in tune with market trends.
"The theme “African Street”, the teams’ work to get the show off the ground… these were the factors that gave this edition the energy and the spirit that we want to continue with Who’s Next,” said Frédéric Maus, the co-director of WSN Développement. Maus also highlighted the season’s festive element as another plus point.
The event’s organisers also took the occasion to launch a new tool for this edition which could pave the way for other innovations. A new app was promoted for the trade show during the first half of September ad gave visitors a taste of what WSN calls “a unique space”. The interface allowed visitors to pre-plan their visit and to contact exhibitors before the event with meetings and conversations.
The app also allows buyers and vendors to remain in contact after the event has finished. It is also on this app that Who’s Next Première Classe will deploy the second phase of its restructuring. “After the internal reorganisation of our teams into two main groups, one for offers and one for “client success”, that we announced several months ago, the next step will now be to re-think our marketing and communications approach,” said Maus.
“Already with this edition, we estimate that the balance sheet is good because we have moved forward with our first mission, to propose a system that allows retailers to work better. For us and them, the challenge is to change our approach a little and to encourage them to make the change with us,” concluded the director, validating the work begun at the September 2018 edition which has garnered a generally positive response.
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