All quiet on the HBA front


Timing blamed for slow show

Moving the event from September to June, the 4 July holiday weekend, and proximity to Luxe Pack New York and Suppliers\' Day were all cited by exhibitors at this week\'s HBA in New York as reasons for a very quiet show. The majority of people cosmeticsbusiness spoke to complained about the smaller exhibition size, with fewer exhibitors, smaller stands, bigger companies missing and a general lack of innovation, but above all about the quantity of visitors.

Organisers have not yet issued visitor figures but HBA Global brand director Jill Birkett hopes the final tally will equal last year\'s 16,000. “A few people have said it\'s quieter but I hope they find they\'re seeing the right people,” she said yesterday, the last day of the show. “Some of the bigger companies not exhibiting say they\'ve changed their business mission and some like to hold private events off-site during the show. Obviously I\'d like them to tie it into HBA – even if not a stand then some sort of activity. My ears are open.” For example this year it co-organised a suite deal with Joko whereby Joko had a suite at the Marriott and HBA organiser UBM Live arranged invitations and limo transportation to and from the show. “They wanted to do something different so we suggested this,” said Birkett. “We want to provide new access to the market so it\'s something we might offer on a wider basis in future.”

As for the future timing of the show, for 2012 it will be June again (26-28 June). “The show used to be in June before it moved to September and over the years some people have said \'we should go back to June\', so we did a survey with visitors and the majority said they\'d prefer the first half of the year. We moved to the end of June to work around Jewish holidays and construction work at the venue. It remains to be seen how well it works and if we need to go earlier or later we will. The key is to have visitors come and if they come the exhibitors will come,” said Birkett.

According to one exhibitor, Naturex, it wasn\'t just the timing of the show that was a problem but also the communication of the change to visitors. “A lot of people in the US weren\'t aware of the date change,” commented Nicolas Meyrial, US national account executive for the company. It was the company\'s third year at the show and it is still considering whether to return next year. Campo has been exhibiting for 13 years but said this will be its last.

In fact a lot of the companies we spoke to are yet to decide whether they\'ll be at the show in 2012.

That said there were others who were full of enthusiasm for this year\'s event. “Crazy, busy, good,” enthused Qosmedix. “The networking and reconnecting at HBA means it\'s always a good one for us,” added Anisa. “Some people have reduced their investment in the show which we don\'t like – we\'re maintaining ours.” And LadyBurd felt the change in time of year was actually a good thing. “People get too used to something happening at the same time of year.”

Moving to June this year meant it was only nine months since the last event. Maybe having a full year before the 2012 show will give people the time they feel they need.