AIS welcomes non-members to Food & Gift Show

Associated Independent Stores (AIS) is preparing to open the doors of its Food & Gift Show to non-members for the first time in June.

The event will take place at AIS’ own purpose-built exhibition centre, Cranmore Park in Solihull, on Tuesday June 5 and Wednesday June 6. Day one is open to AIS members only with day two open to all independent buyers (AIS members and trade).

The independent buying group said: ‘Having cemented its place as an eagerly anticipated show by AIS members for a number of years, we will be extending the invite out to independent retailers that aren’t group members – giving the wider industry an opportunity to experience the one-of-a-kind environment of this buyer-focused show.’

More than 70 exhibitors will display their wares across 2,445sq m, with the focus on Autumn/Winter and Christmas food and gift buying season. Product categories will include gift food and confectionary from names such as Charbonnel et Walker, House of Dorchester, Cottage Delight, Maxim’s De Paris, The Snaffling Pig Company, Cartwright & Butler, Mrs Bridges and Stewarts; speciality drinks from brands such as Skinny Prosecco and 6 O’Clock Gin; and housewares and home fragrance from companies including Portmeirion and Wax Lyrical.

Several exhibitors will also offer bespoke personalised ranges, tailor-made for the independent market, as well as tasting sessions for buyers to enjoy.

Show organiser Rachel Breen said: “This show is unique in that it’s designed specifically and exclusively for independent retailers. The Food & Gift Show is organised by buyers with experience in the independent sector and this perspective creates a unique buyer-focused approach.

“We have been visiting trade shows as buyers for years, so it’s easy to identify how we like to structure our own show. High on our priority list is making the show a stress-free experience for visitors and creating a fun, friendly and relaxed environment for both buyers and exhibitors.

“We know that Cranmore Park is easy to find – and years of shuttle bus experience has taught us how important it is that visitors can park right outside the front door! We also want to lessen the expense for buyers visiting the show and the most obvious solution to that is to make everything free. So parking, admission, refreshments and even lunch is free for everyone.”

She added: “We’re also delighted to offer some new exciting initiatives to keep the show fresh and current. In addition to the great mix of ranges, we’re offering visitors visual and display concepts during the event. We all know the importance of finishing touches and how they can bring a store display alive, whilst also providing some great add-on sales for retailers. Plus, there will be some seminars open to all buyers to learn more about the market to enable them to make more informed buying decisions.”

To register for the show and an up-to-date exhibitor list, visit the website

AIS bills itself as ‘the leading independent buying group for home and fashion in the UK and Ireland’. With a buying throughput of around £500 million, its 250-strong retail membership includes department stores, garden centres and specialists such as cookshops. They are all independent and range from single stores to regional chains with a combined retail turnover of around £2 billion.

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