It may feel like ancient history already or it may feel as though it was only yesterday. Whatever. However, there's no escaping the fact the Cycle & Leisure Show 2001 is only 287 days away! And, if David Hyde's idea pays off, it will have a satellite outdoor show attached to it

Can Alfresco excite the outdoor trade?

The Cycle & Leisure Show 2001 is to be staged in Hall 9 of the NEC on 4-6

March next year. If enough exhibitors from the outdoor trade can be

attracted, there will also be a sister expo attached to the Cycle and

Leisure Show. Called Alfresco, and first announced to a waiting world in the

BikeBiz daily newspaper at this year’s show, this would be held in an

adjoining hall with separate ticketing although the two shows would share

the fashion stage.

The stand plan sent out to potential exhibitors yesterday shows Alfresco as quarter of the size of the Cycle and Leisure Show although it could be scaled back if need be.

Companies from the outdoor trade such as Vaude, and Calequip, who previously exhibited at the Cycle and Leisure Show, would be expected to either migrate across to Alfresco or book a stand in each show.

Hyde hopes other cross-over companies, such as Ronhill and Polaris, would

join them.

He told BikeBiz:

Alfresco was not designed to directly compete with any existing show. It

has been developed because the Cycle and Leisure Show now has exhibitors

whose product ranges fall both into dedicated cycle shops and the leisure

outlets. Alfresco is the natural progression of an existing show, making the overall concept much broader, without diluting either industry.

Hyde makes it clear Alfresco will not deflect him from his work on the cycle trade show:

It is very important to me that the format of Cycle and Leisure doesn’t change. We’ve worked hard to build a show which serves the cycle industry and the last thing I want to do is damage that.

The impetus for Alfresco came from COLA (formerly the Camping and Outdoor Leisure Association, now renamed as OIA, the Outdoor Industries Association), who run the highly success AutumnCOLA at Harrogate and co-organise the less successful Soltex/SpringCOLA at G-mex, Manchester.

Last year we were approached by Roger Southcott [of COLA] to look at the possibilities of running both shows concurrently, and whilst we left the door open for further discussion, we saw no benefits for our exhibition. We would have handed them nearly 4500 visitors on a plate, and gained little in return.

COLA’s main exhibition is still strong, but the spring show has a declining

attendance. From our own surveys, there is a lot of discontent with SpringCOLA [now called Go Outdoors) and that’s not a problem I want to get involved with.

A link up with COLA/OIA would have been a recognition that the bike and outdoor trades share a great deal of crossover potential.

John Traynor, editor of Outdoor Review, agrees that the gap between bike

shops and outdoor-cum-camping shops is narrowing but that the strength of both IBDs and outdoor shops is specialisation:

"Never mind outdoor equipment like sleeping bags, tents or stoves, how many bike shops stock cycle-specific clothing in depth or bike luggage? Whilst I wish Alfresco every success, long experience has demonstrated that there is a comprehensive lack of interest on the part of outdoor suppliers to participate in a bike trade show.

"The potential for David Hyde would be making Alfresco a public show and

concentrating on getting loads and loads of trekking holiday companies

involved. They will only take small stands but they are a better bet than

the big outdoor brands."

John Wright of Calequip, importer of Big Pack outdoor and cycle gear, has

yet to book for Al Fresco but he sees it as an interesting move for the

crossover companies:

"This type of show from David Hyde is exciting for companies like mine

because having had two successful cycle trade shows it would give us a

chance to exhibit an even greater range of products.

"We are in the fortunate position of having products which lend themselves

to both markets and I feel a crossover exhibition is a very positive move and one that could be very cost effective."

However, for Afresco to work there would have to be a widespread protest

vote from potential Soltex/Spring COLA exhibitors. This is the outdoor/ski

show held at G-Mex in Manchester at roughly the same time as the Cycle and Leisure Show. For many exhibitors, Soltex is too late in the year: ranging decisions have been made by the Spring.

Add to this the fact that many of the bigger outdoor brands stage their own hotel range presentations rather than exhibit at G-mex, a city venue that isn’t easy to find and where car parking spaces are at a premium, and it’s clear to see why the show has been losing visitors for years.

A successful Alfresco by no means a foregone conclusion would capitalise on the decline of Soltex/Spring COLA but Hyde doesnt want a battle.

"I’ve known COLA for years, and have always had a good relationship with Roger Southcott. I know there’s some bitterness over what he thinks is direct competition, but that really is not the case. If he had come back to me after my last correspondence, it is possible some compromise could have been reached."

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