The venerable event at the Chelsea Old Town Hall will now be condensed to a three-day event, rather than five, in its 70th year of operation. Running from March 18-20 next year, it will overlap with the opening of the nearby BADA fair.
Penman and her husband Ricardo celebrated their golden wedding and 75th birthdays earlier this year and she announced her retirement and the winding down of her company Penman Fairs. However, a lack of interest from anyone to take on the Chelsea fair has led to her change of heart.
She said: “I am frustrated that the old five-day formula is no longer viable, but this way I meet the needs of regular exhibitors and others unwilling to pay the demanding rents at other events. However, I cannot go on for ever, so would be keen to meet and work with anyone who might ultimately want to take the reins at Chelsea.”
Penman added that “overheads will be significantly reduced” in the new format. Prices for a fully fitted stand range from £650-1100 with previous Chelsea exhibitors to be offered first choice of the 48 potential stands.
Established in 1950, the fair ran as a 12-day event for the first 50 years of its life and then was reduced to five. Penman has run it since 1983.