As the doors closed on the biennial AQUA show today (Thursday, October 14), there was general agreement among visitors and exhibitors that the event had proved to be a massive tonic for the aquatics and water garden industry.
Retailers revealed they had been looking forward to the exhibition for months as it gave them the chance to ‘see, touch and feel’ all the latest launches in one place.
Ryan Davis, of Charterhouse Aquatics in Hertfordshire, said: “This show has provided suppliers with the opportunity to showcase great and innovative products, and for retailers like myself to handle them. And it’s great to see the exhibitors making such a big effort in the production of some amazing stands. All this helps to create a fantastic and uplifting atmosphere.”
These sentiments were echoed by Steve Pattullo, sales director of Crawley-based wholesaler Oasis Water Garden Products, who added: “It has been a brilliant show. It’s such a relief to be able to get back to meeting with suppliers and retailers again.”
Simon Langdale, a senior partner at Maidenhead Aquatics, said: “The main success of this show is being able to meet up with people again. As a result I’ve had some really good discussions with suppliers.”
And another Maidenhead Aquatics partner, Stephen Rudd, added: “I’m impressed with the turnout of exhibiting companies. We’ve just come through a really challenging period, and it’s great to get out and spend time with the wider industry. It feels we’re getting back towards some kind of normality.”
Exhibitors were also quick to point out that having a platform like AQUA 2021 to re-unite the industry after the pandemic lockdowns had limited contact with their clients was very welcome.
Jeff Wheeler, managing director of Beaver Plants, said: “Online meetings have helped us to keep in touch with customers but I much prefer the personal touch, so to have AQUA back is fantastic. It has been a very good show for us and we’ve taken a record number of forward bookings. Generally, there has been a lot of positivity around the exhibition.”
It was an award-winning event for OASE UK, which picked up two honours in the New Product Showcase. National sales manager Andy Bond said: “We’ve had lots of positive feedback on our stand and range of products. Winning awards is good, too. All in all, its has been a very good and busy show for us.”
PM Aquatic Imports increased the size of its stand after a successful AQUA in 2019, and is thinking of taking an even bigger area in two years time thanks to the success of this year’s event. Jeremy Gay said: “This show is the best place for aquatic companies to network and develop more business.”
Steve Bolton, of Pettex, added: “I didn’t know what to expect from the show after everything that’s happened since the last AQUA two years ago. But I’m happy to report it has been a success. There has been a lot of interest in our products so I’m glad we took a stand.”
And first-time exhibitor Aqua Ceramics was more than happy with its decision to take a stand. “We started the company in lockdown and AQUA has given us the ideal opportunity to present our unique product to UK retailers,” said Macie Lysik. “We’re really happy about how it’s gone – lots of positive leads.”
The final word comes from show organiser Gordon Thomas, who said: “The positive feedback from exhibitors and visitors is proof that AQUA 2021 is a vital event in the aquatics and water gardening industry calendar.
“It has been great to see everyone again and to witness companies doing really good business.”
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