AVEX set to return to its former glory

Paul Howard MD of Nebrak has taken over from David Hoskin as Chairman of AVEX; with plans to put a “different stamp on it” the 2013 event looks set to be an entirely different show. Vending International met with Paul at the AVA’s Head Office to find out why…

Owned by the Automatic Vending Association, AVEX was the first exhibition for vending when it started in 1969 and it has remained the showcase for the vending industry, attracting exhibitors and visitors from around the world.

In 2007, AVEX expanded to include companies providing water refreshment to businesses. AVEX 2009 and 2011 were also fairly successful despite the recession and in both cases, 93% of exhibitors reported that they would exhibit again.

The concern now however is that AVEX has decreased in size from earlier days and has to some extent ‘lost its way’; the economic climate has proved a challenge for even the most established company and this has led some to question whether the event offers sufficient return on investment. Paul has been elected as Chairman to shake things up, which means identifying new markets and making AVEX a worldwide platform for vending.

With the support of Wayne Wanklyn (Nestlé) and Gillian White (24 vend) together with the AVA’s Trish Vagg, there are now four people in the team working to “turn the show around”. The ballot which is a tried and tested AVEX tradition, was originally set up to allow AVA members to compete fairly for the best stand positions whilst securing the best available stand rates and payment terms. This year, EDWCA members and past exhibitors will also have an opportunity to take part. The ballot for 2013’s exhibition will be held at the AVA’s brand new offices in High Wycombe. “If you know which stand you want, you need to attend the ballot,” insists Paul.

Dates for the 2013 show have been confirmed; it is set to take place from Tuesday 11th – Thursday 13th June in Hall 3 of the NEC. Paul comments: “We believe after much talking and debating that the event warrants a 2 1/2 day show. The team have also decided to hold a hospitality bar which will stay open for 2 hours following the first day’s business. This will give everyone an excellent chance to network on site up until 7pm before continuing with their plans for dinner. It is vital that we use opportunities such as this to form and build on working relationships with both UK and International exhibitors and visitors and continue to spread the vending message as far and wide as possible. Vending has always been a hospitable and fun industry and we are keen to inject that back into the new style AVEX.”

On the Wednesday it will be back to the exhibition, followed by a Gala dinner in the evening where the much coveted awards will take place.

Paul promises something very different on the Thursday – four events will be running within the exhibition, giving visitors ample reason to return. Although he wouldn’t reveal too much, he promised that this year there would be no seminars or AGMs. “The Thursday morning events will be challenging and exciting,” was all he would say.

A brand new area called Café Vend is set to draw exhibitors and visitors in with its focus on the HORECA markets. Facilities managers, premises directors and specifiers will be among other key buyers and decision makers dropping in to see what products and services AVEX has to offer. Paul insists: “We need to attract this market – the Industry needs to evolve and embrace change if it is to grow.”

It’s clear that Paul wants to return AVEX to its former glory as the most important European show. In a call to action, he says: “”Please help us to rejuvenate the exhibition by supporting AVEX in 2013. Yes we acknowledge the downturn and we are trying to do something about it.”

AVEX 2013 will be managed by H2O Publishing, on behalf of the AVA. “They will organise AVEX under the guidance of me and my team to bring the show up to date. It needs that extra level of expertise – it is a professional, international exhibition after all.” The plan is to attract the traditional visitor, as well as key decision makers within other markets.

For those planning ahead, it’s worth noting, says Paul that: “We are keeping the prices the same as they were in 2009. Not only that, but exhibitors are getting an additional day for the same price they paid 5 or 6 years ago.”

“UK vending is not all doom and gloom. If you talk it down, it will go down. Yes it’s been tough, but we are still here. No other show in Europe will have the same amount of ancillaries as AVEX. No other organiser has the hospitality or events that this show will have. I want AVEX to be fun. I want people to enjoy going to the show. Please make sure you’re there – mark the dates on your calendar today – Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th June 2013.”

AVEX 2013 is just what the Industry needs and its success depends on us all backing it. We must be proactive and invest in an event that has the potential to offer enormous return on investment.