The first thing I want to say is our brands are 100% passionate about Fit. Personally, I love the show because it plays one of the most important roles in our industry to showcase innovation person-to-person, something my brands are all about. Fit is a focal point for the industry and should give the perfect environment to safely present new developments, share ideas, get market feedback and showcase the culmination of the creativity, design ideas and innovation that has been embraced since the last show. So, as one of the exhibition’s most staunch supporters, the decision to withdraw from September’s show was very difficult to say the least.
However, hand on heart, I believe life at the moment is just too uncertain and September, less than two months away, is too high-risk from a commercial and a safeguarding perspective. Albeit, and understandably, people are doing everything they can to ignore the obvious, there is a third wave on its way, with whatever restrictions come with that third wave. The government changes what is says on a daily basis. For example, its rhetoric as I write this, on the eve of ‘Freedom Day’, has moved resolutely from confidence and absolute terms, to ‘hoping’ and ‘no guarantees’. Equally worrying is the continued use of the phrase: “We will be driven by data”. The data is not looking good. The safeguarding of my team comes as a high priority, as standard.
As an MD, it’s the sensible and responsible decision for me to take. But it’s not only the legal/health backdrop that has driven my decision. As all of us know, there are massive supply chain issues. Supply within our sector is at its most fragile and unstable standing that I’ve ever seen, with mind-blowing price hikes increasingly becoming the norm. We are already seeing in the marketplace that new business, or looking at new products, is not high on anyone’s agenda.
Currently, the industry’s focus is on managing existing customers’ expectations and, ultimately, to make sure the day-to-day business flows more easily. At the moment, the appetite for new products just isn’t there, which, for us, is what the Fit show is all about. Exhibiting in eight weeks’ time would essentially be gambling and playing roulette with my brands’ finances in this climate. This is not something I’m not prepared to do.
In taking this decision, I’ve had to acknowledge that the industry has more pressing matters, like the fragility of the supply chain, and it just doesn’t sit right with me spending circa £250,000 on what is essentially marketing and education, when some companies are struggling with day-to-day operations. Brands tend to go to Fit if they have something great and new to show. And I have to ask myself: Is 2021 the right time? I just don’t feel there is a mood for new products. It’s high risk.
Most, if not all businesses are writing off 2021, and looking towards 2022 for change, confidence and a sense of conviction. I am sure this getting back to a ‘new normal’ will happen with time, resilience and even more intelligent science. However, for us, September 2021 is too early.
When people have the space, freedom and appetite to learn and embrace innovation, this is the time to show off. That, I believe will come with supporting Fit 2022, hopefully back to its regular month of May. And you can guarantee to see us there, supporting Fit.
Inventor and innovator of Smart Ready