Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

FROM 2007, DMG’s flagship Newark antiques and collector’s fair will run on Thursday and Friday only as an event dedicated to the trade.

The announcement comes as part of a wide-ranging review to make DMG’s fairs programme leaner and fitter in an increasingly difficult market.

With the number of fairs across the country dropping by 40 per cent since 2003, all organisers have been trying to find new ways to boost business. DMG had hoped that moving Newark to the end of the week would help trade by bringing in more public buyers on the Saturday. To start off with it worked, but Saturday numbers have not held up and, in general, stallholders no longer support the third day.

“We have taken these issues on board,” said managing director Jason Franks, who has used this setback as a springboard to refocus other events too. His new package of changes also includes:

• cutting Detling from six to four fairs a year by abandoning the January and February fixtures, which have been plagued by bad weather;

• cancelling the July fair at Shepton Mallet, which has to compete with an increasing number of rival events;

• introducing the stallholder loyalty scheme at Ardingly – stallholders who book for all six fairs in 2007 will get their stands at 2006 prices; and

• setting trade entry prices for the Tuesday at the January and February Ardinglys at £10, with no need for special promotional vouchers.

Mr Franks is pleased with the performance of the Flea Market at Malvern, but says the antiques fair is suffering. Changes are afoot there, too, but have yet to be announced.

All in all, DMG want to offer stallholders and buyers what Mr Franks called a “better experience”, and he pointed out that securing their future and the possibility of further investment meant keeping them profitable.

By sweeping away, in a stroke, the problems that have taken up much of their time, he hopes his fairs team will be able to capitalise on the portfolio’s strengths, such as the increasing visitor numbers at Shepton Mallet.

“With the help of more dedicated trade marketing support we hope to be able to offer stallholders and buyers a better experience at our events in 2007,” he said.

The first test of this new approach will come at Newark on Thursday and Friday, February 1 and 2 next year.

By Ivan Macquisten