FMO announces backing of 100% Optical and cancels Optrafair 2020 plans

Cancellation of the event provides the industry with “much-needed security and clarity” say organisers, who pledge full support for 100% Optical as the UK’s major annual exhibition

Optrafair

The Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) has announced the decision to cancel Optrafair 2020, and revealed that the event brand has been brought by Media 10, organisers of the tradeshow 100% Optical, from 2021.

Set to have been held in Birmingham between 19–21 September, FMO and event organiser, MA Exhibitions (part of the Mark Allen Group) said the decision to cancel Optrafair 2020 was taken, “due to the continued uncertainty surrounding delivery of events as a result of COVID-19.” The event began in 1978, and has been running for over 40 years.

The decision comes as the FMO and Media 10 reveal the organisations have reached an agreement that will see Media 10 take over the ownership of the Optrafair brand from 2021.

In a statement announcing the decision, the organisations said: “The joining of forces between FMO and Media 10, as well as the cancellation of Optrafair 2020, provides the industry with much-needed security and clarity.

“The industry can now be assured there is one major annual exhibition, 100% Optical at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre, which now has full industry support from the FMO and other major optical bodies,” the statement continued.

Stuart Burn, chairman of the FMO, said the association was “delighted” with the outcome of the agreement, suggesting the partnership will provide, “both tangible benefits and cost savings to our members and other exhibitors.”

“Now, more than ever, we can come together as an industry at 100% Optical and tackle the key issues facing optics today,” Mr Burn added.
The organisation added that the long-term agreement means optical suppliers can “put their event marketing plans into place to support one event in January 2021.”

The FMO and Media 10 are in discussions on how the Optrafair brand might be incorporated as part of 100% Optical, with the organisations suggesting more details will follow at a later date.

Nathan Garnett, event director for 100% Optical, commented: “We are living through uncertain times. Whilst this agreement would have been reached without the current pandemic, its importance now is magnified as the optical industry needs solidarity at this time.”

He added that with the backing of the AOP, Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), and now the FMO, there is, “huge potential for us to take 100% Optical forwards, grow our attendance levels, increase the diversity of our content, and make it an even more unmissable date in the UK and international optical calendar.”

Since the launch of the event, the AOP has supported 100% Optical as official partner and education provider, while OT is the official media partner.

Commenting on the news, Henrietta Alderman, chief executive of the AOP said, “As the official partner to the show, the AOP are pleased that the optical bodies representing the different constituent parts of this industry can come together at 100% Optical in 2021. The sector as a whole will benefit from this new collaboration and together we will continue to lead the profession through a changing landscape.”

ABDO’s general secretary, Sir Anthony Garrett, acknowledged there is “understandable sadness” at the cancellation of Optrafair, but also added that it was “good news for the whole sector that there will be just one show each year which we can all fully support.”

The event organisers assured attendees that Media 10 is working with ExCel London and local health authorities on plans for the 2021 event, to ensure it will be COVID-safe and in compliance with the latest government guidelines on running safe trade exhibitions.

“These measures will be very familiar to the optical sector, with social distancing signage, sanitation stations, one-way aisles, screens and PPE all being incorporated into the event,” an FAQ in the statement explained. There will also be greater use of pre-booking software for meetings to manage numbers, as well as longer opening hours.

Reactions to the announcement across the industry appear to have been broadly positive, with many welcoming the move as an opportunity for exhibitors to focus on one show.

In a post on social media, Hakim Group’s CEO, Imran Hakim, called the move a “great example of collaboration” and suggested this would provide a “much stronger opportunity for the show organisers as well as exhibitors, and ultimately a much better proposition for the show attendees.”

Positive Impact also reacted to the news, suggesting the uniting of the events would provide “a much-needed focus on one event,” and adding: “A major annual optical exhibition is what many of us have been asking for, for too long.”