Three day AVEX is hailed a resounding success

AVEX, the UK’s biggest bi-annual trade show for the vending and water industries, which took place on the 11th, 12th and 13th of June at the NEC, Birmingham, has been hailed by organisers and exhibitors alike as a big success.

The show, which has been taking place for a number of decades, introduced various changes this year: The show returned to a three day format, with plenty of opportunity for networking at the Exhibitors’ Drinks Reception, hosting 300 guests, and the Vending Industry Awards, which attracted 449 party-goers, both taking place during the week. The show was also run in conjunction with the European Drinking Water and Cooler Association (EDWCA) and incorporated the FM Vending Show – demonstrating an increased synergy between the FM, water and vending industries.

AVEX13 enjoyed a greater number of visitors than expected, with exhibitors commenting that the quality of visitors was much higher than previous years, with major supermarkets, universities and FM managers all attending.

Jonathan Hilder, CEO of the AVA which is responsible for organising AVEX, is delighted with the outcome:

“We’ve had a fantastic AVEX. The numbers are better than last time, we’ve had multiple orders taken on the stands, we’ve had a seminar area (which for the first time ever has been enclosed in a dedicated marquee) and we’ve run an FM seminar and a Healthy Vending seminar. All of these have been well received and invigorated debate, as well as bringing the FM and vending industries closer together.”

AVEX13 was the chosen platform for a number of new product launches into the market, including Pure Novelty’s pick and mix vending machine. Dan Perkins from the company said:

“The pick and mix automated solution was so well received because of its uniqueness that we have been inundated with follow up enquiries and have been overwhelmed by the interest.”

One of the most eagerly awaited launches was by Douwe Egberts, which alongside Huhtamaki UK and Crane Merchandising Solutions developed the Expresso Bar vending concept which delivers coffee shop style vended beverages. Douwe Egberts Trade Marketing Manager, Martyn Bell commented:

“The show was a terrific platform for the launch of a major innovation, the first ever double walled vending cup. The great and the good of the vending world were there, and we got lots of interest both from existing customers keen to learn more, and from new prospects looking to use the Espresso Bar concept to access the growing gourmet vending opportunity.”

Other highlights of the show included the seminar sessions, which started on Tuesday with the “Bridging The Gap” event organised by the Facilities Management Association. Recently the AVA and the Facilities Management Association (FMA) became members of each other’s Associations in a carefully planned effort to bridge the gap between vending and facilities management.

AVEX provided the perfect platform, with an FM Vending Show offering advice for professionals on how to increase profits. The headline speaker at the seminar was Steve Davies, Managing Director of Compass, who then joined Chris Hoar, CEO of the FMA, and AVA’s Jonathan Hilder for a lively, refreshingly honest debate.

Steve Davies talked about food and developments in ‘steamplicity’, posing the question – ‘What does the customer want from today’s vending machines?’ A key response was – make it easier to pay. He also talked about the 17% projected growth of the FM sector in the next 5 years.

The panel and audience debated the relevance of vending to the FM sector, and Steve Davies gave some great advice on the size, scope and breakdown of today’s leading FM companies.

Another of the high points of the show was the Being Healthy Conference, which took place on the Wednesday, and was extremely well attended. The speakers, from across the food and drink industry offered insight on how healthy vending is successfully working for their businesses and highlighted just a few of the opportunities this growing trend offers vending operators and food manufacturers alike. Gillian White, The Being Healthy Conference Organiser and Director at 24Vend said:

“Healthy vending is already delivering profits and competitive edge for operators and producers at home and abroad. Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy food and drink and the industry is responding with an increasing range of high quality products.”

Following the conference was the judging of the University College Birmingham “Food Development Award” for healthy vending. The two winners, which were announced at the Vending Industry Awards were The Gail Pastry Company which won the Product Award for their innovative gluten free savoury pastries and United Katering who won the Marketing Award for their “Dog in the Box” product. Judge and award contributor, Tim Franklin-Heys, Head of Culinary Team, Unilever Food Solutions, said:

“It was a very close fought competition, with some amazing ideas and some interesting innovations in vending products. The runner up concept from United Katering, The Dog in the Box idea has far reaching potential and I can see it on a plane or train. The students took a creative and innovative approach to the venture which has led to some exciting and innovative new products unlike anything currently offered in vending at present. The future of vending is clearly about enhancing the consumer experience and these fresh innovative new products certainly meet the needs of our changing society.”

Throughout the show The AVA Technical and Operations Committee, who help to raise the standard of technical training and advice within the Vending Industry, ran an AVA Technical Awareness Video Competition in partnership with the Vending Intelligence Agency. The short video showed a service technician visiting a vending site and making lots of mistakes and missing lots of faults, which the visitors to the AVA stand had to spot. Although it was a light hearted look, it portrayed a more a serious message, as most of the mistake are things that happen every day in the vending Industry. Mike Saltmarsh the AVA Technical expert said:

“Many of the technical visitors to the stand said that the video highlighted some obvious areas which are sometimes overlooked.”

Phil Millard MD of The Vending Intelligence Agency, AVA training providers added:

“There was an unexpected outcome in using this video as we had a number of requests from our members for a copy of the video to use at a service or operations meeting as an ice breaker.”

The winners of the challenge were: 1st – Andy Skipper from NVCS, Joint 2nd
– Mark Brown from Cambridge Vending and David Hurn from NVCS, Joint 3rd – Malcolm Green from GEM Vending and Mark Fox Vending Enterprises.

Paul Howard, AVEX13 Chairman, shares his thoughts on the show:

“This year’s show has been a huge success, attracting many high quality vending industry professionals who all have a genuine interest in seeking out the latest innovations being showcased at the event. With an audible buzz around the show, our visitors not only benefitted from the new products being showcased but were also able to walk away well equipped with some critical information gleaned from the many experts on hand, in particular greater knowledge of the FM market and the developments in healthy vending. The feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike has been resounding and reinforces AVEX as the show to conduct serious business.”