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Spring Fair: Retail and Brand Trends on Show

Spring Fair: Retail and Brand Trends on Show

Thousands of retailers flocked to the opening of the UK’s largest and longest serving retail show Spring Fair yesterday, keen to discover their store’s next bestsellers and recharge their retail know-how. The opening day welcomed a diverse variety of retail businesses including Warner Bros, Aldi UK, Toy Barnhaus, Phoenix Stores, Hallmark, The Bag Shop, Cards Galore, Alton Towers, Target Global, Costcutter, Elphicks, Nest & Flowers, Denby Retail, McElhinneys, Graham & Green, Boyd’s Stores Ireland, Trago Mills, Cards Galore, and Cavendish Hotels. Hundreds of garden centres, zoos, heritage sites, and museums also visited including Chester Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Twycross Zoo, Squires Garden Centre, Homeleigh Garden Centres, Otter Garden Centres, Newbank Garden Centre, Busy Bee Garden Centre, Gordale Garden Centre, Heligan Gardens, Cawdor Castle, Silverstone Heritage, British Garden Centres, and Bournemouth Pier.

With a myriad of globally recognised brands including Disney, Marvel, Elf on the Shelf, Barbie, Harry Potter, Peppa Pig, TikTok, Google, and B Corp, the 74th edition of Spring Fair offered an inspirational and global showcase of the best and most innovative in retail with a sense of optimism for the year ahead.

Boasting over 1000 quality brands with 120 more exhibitors than last year, over 200 exclusively showing at Spring Fair only and 450 making their debut, Spring Fair also grew its global reach with more international brands than the previous year. The growth in licensed brands was evident with an exciting array of licensed products launching across all sectors of the show.

The feeling amongst exhibitors has been upbeat on the first day. Jonny Greves, Director from Lessey and Pavey said, “We have had a busy day with a mix of existing customers, new customers, and some international export businesses visiting the stand. Overall, the show feels busy and our stand next to the doors in Hall 5 has been great.  We travelled a lot last year and did a lot of buying so we have got about 2,000 new products we have launched here and have had a positive reaction.  We license designs from a few different greeting cards designers like Macneil Studio, Jennifer Rose Gallery and Bug Art and we have new designs from all of them. We have been licensing for a long time they know the style of artwork we like. We have a good customer base for those studios and designs. Bug Art is a new one for us, which we first launched at this show last year and had a really good reaction too, so we have added a lot of new designs from them and new Christmas designs from all of them.”

In his opening address, Spring Fair’s Portfolio Director, Jackson Szabo said, “It’s my 1st Spring Fair and I’m delighted to be part of the Spring Fair family. There are many great things about Spring Fair, but the one thing I find is that it is unbelievably inspiring. What is so compelling is that of the thousands of brands exhibiting and retailer’s visiting, large or small, all of them started with a dream, and an ambition to start a business. 

“As we start the year, it’s important to remember where we’ve come from. Retail has had its fair share of peaks and troughs. There have been some big challenges in recent years, and a lot of disruption. Despite these hurdles, the resilience and adaptability of the industry have been nothing short of remarkable and there are many reasons to feel optimistic. For 74 years Spring Fair has remained a constant and we continue to look for opportunities to get better.”

Celebrating the best of the best in Gift, Spring Fair has partnered with the Giftware Association to showcase the finalists of the Gift Of The Year Awards, welcoming industry leaders to judge the awards across the four day show.

Sarah Ward, CEO, Giftware Association said, “Over the course of the 3 days we know we are expecting over 60 buyers mainly on Monday and Tuesday for the judging of the Gift Associations, Gift Of The Year, which has had over 800 entries across 20 categories. What has really surprised us is that on the first day, and within just an hour of the doors opening we have seen retailers from over 6 different countries, including England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and then from as far afield as Portugal to Australia. 

“Being able to show, and hold the judging at Spring Fair is perfect, it is excellent exposure for all shortlisted companies, not just to the judges but the many Spring Fair buyers who view their products. What has been clear is that buyers are doing their homework before they get to the show, they have made sure they look at the Gift Of The Year shortlisted products before they buy and those entrants who also have a stand here have benefited from the our showcase, with buyers going on to see them at their stands.”

Spring Fair is a hub for knowledge and inspiration, championing all things retail and buyers were invited to recharge their retail know-how with an incredible lineup of speakers, seminars and classes delivered across three exciting content stages. 

The all-new Masterclass Studio in partnership with TikTok Shop, kicked off to a packed audience on Sunday with TikTok Shop’s ‘Social Commerce: The Future of Digital Retail’ lead by Fashion E-Commerce leader Thomas Wintle. Beginning by looking at the landscape of the future of shopping and going on to delve into the rise of social commerce and how it’s shaping the future of TikTok through their spearheading growth, from the Era of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt to the evolution of TikTok Shop.

“Shopping is set for a new revolution. Whilst e-Commerce is growing, the thing to notice is that it’s evolving as well”, says Thomas, “expectations have shifted, people want commerce that entertains them, envelops them in a community, and trust is a necessity if you are to survive and grow in this market – and this growth is rapid, across the world.”

Ginny Major, Home & Living Category Manager at TikTok Shop then took to the Inspiring Retail Stage to ‘Debunk TikTok Myths’. “TikTok might be pioneered by the younger generation and Gen Z but as our users grow up, so does our content.” Says Ginny. “32% of our global audience are now 25-34, and 79% of over 35’s believe TikTok is serving content for them.” Exploring TikTok’s trends and virtual content Ginny furthered, “The myth that you need a lot of followers to go viral is incorrect. TikTok is a discovery app, and the algorithm tailors content to relevant audiences; first and foremost TikTok’s content is embedded in personalised, storytelling videos that are more informative and digestible. You can train your TikTok feed to give you the content you want. TikTok has 5 x higher engagement than any other social media platform, and 127% of Gen X are more likely to watch a live whilst considering a purchase.”

Offering a masterclass in AI, Alex Ryan from Marketing 101, delivered an insightful dive into the opportunities in adopting AI to improve the processes across the supply chain and through the customer journey. Tech Magic: An Al Masterclass for Retail provided helpful tips on what tools to use and ways to capitalise on it from everything from data and trend analysis, consumer behaviour and market shifts, Ryan said that AI has created a new era of trend forecasting, and offers unimagined time and efficiency benefits. 

In the Digital Frontier Masterclass, Google Digital Coach Glenn White, discussed how to unlock the potential of digital advertising and reach new customers online. He said, “You need to be the solution to your audiences challenge. You need to be providing all of the information your customer is looking for. Understand your customers, get to know what makes them tick. Do your keyword research. Summarising the benefits of search advertising he added, “It gives greater visibility, drives more page traffic, enables reaching people directly, and it is budget friendly.”

Nicole Higgins from The Buyer and Retail Coach Ltd hosted an insightful session at the Masterclass Studio ‘A Strategic Buying Masterclass’ to share invaluable insights garnered from her extensive experience buying for the likes of George at ASDA, Primark and M&S. Inspiring the audience to elevate their skills and empower in the dynamic world of retail, Nicole explained, “At the core, you need to plan, build and create cohesive ranges that compliment your brand and product. Newness needs to balance your core product without cannibalisation, and managing profit is invaluable; having a comprehensive understanding of your price architecture  is key. Similarly, understanding your customer is your greatest asset, analysing their priorities, needs and wants are key in your buying journey. This needs to be an ongoing process, as assuming customers behaviours and wants don’t change is a really common mistake to make.”

At the Trend Talks stage, The Future Collective presented an eye-opening talk on The Future of the Post-Commute Economy. Matt Parry said, “There is no going back. We are all now living through a new revolution. But most of us don’t even realise it. The retail sector is at a pivotal moment of transformation. As consumer habits continue to evolve in response to the changing dynamics of work and live, so too must the strategies of retailers.”

“The future of retail lies not in the hands of fate but in the ability of businesses to understand and cater to the new rhythms of their customers’ lives. In this post-commute economy, the retailers who will flourish are those who view these changes not as obstacles but as opportunities to innovate and reconnect with their communities in more meaningful ways. Leading brands and retailers will recognise this watershed moment – it’s time to play the long game, shaping enduring brand stories and experiences. For those with vision and patience, the opportunities are tremendously exciting.”

With the latest key fashion trends, this season’s newest collections came to life on the Moda Catwalk. Powder celebrated their passion for the exotic; pyjamas, gowns, dresses and kaftans are adorned with flora and fauna. From sea to forest floor, motifs take centre stage in a tropical colour palette. Goose Island defined the concept of ‘dreamy fashion’ with their everyday wearable pieces; their latest Linen Collection debuted innovative designs meticulously crafted for one-size fits all dresses, tops and trousers. Elsewhere Jessica Graaf and Lighthouse bought a host of new coat designs, whilst Mudflower and Saloos played with print and texture.

Moda also welcomed the incredible Footwear Design final year students from DeMontfort University. The ongoing partnership aims to showcase up and coming footwear designers and the winning student Wunnai Tam was awarded for his impeccable design, story and the execution of his prototype. There’s still time to vote for the People’s Choice Awards at the De Montfort University footwear showcase next to the Moda Café in Hall 2 – don’t forget to scan the QR code and vote for your favourite design. 

Day two at Spring Fair looks set to be just as inspirational, with even more trends, insights, and newness. Highlights include a keynote talk from Kris Hammer, Director of Insight at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Retail Landscape 2024: Insights from the British Retail Consortium. Don’t miss this comprehensive overview of the UK retail market with valuable insights into economic health, growth indicators, emerging opportunities and evolving consumer spending habits; and the Licensing Masterclass with Catrina O’Brien, UK Licensing Director – Hasbro Inc. 

Step into the world of strategic brand enhancement and learn directly from the stewards of iconic brands like Peppa Pig, Transformers, My Little Pony and Furby as Catrina shares best practices, do’s and don’ts and the transformative impact of licensing on your business. This session offers a comprehensive look at licensing essentials, from understanding the lifecycle of new hits and evergreen brands to mastering collaboration and product development. A must-attend for retailers and creators looking to add a new dimension to their offerings through strategic partnerships and licensing agreements.

View the full programme at

Spring Fair is open until 4pm on Wednesday 7th February, register at

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at

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