Hong Kong protests not expected to impact APLF 2020

Hong Kong
Published:  20 November, 2019

The next edition of APLF will be held on March 31 – April 2, 2020 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with a new layout and a host of fresh initiatives. In an exclusive interview with ILM, Perrine Ardouin, Director of APLF, reveals details of the next edition and addresses concerns over the current political unrest in Hong Kong and potential impact on the show. 

ILM: Do you expect the current political situation in Hong Kong to impact on the next edition of APLF?
Perrine Ardouin: APLF is the annual meeting place of the leather industry and according to ILM’s recent industry survey ranked as the number one leather trade show in the world among tanners. It is therefore a must-attend-event and the fair will go on as planned. International trade exhibitions continue to safely take place each week at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wanchai and Asia World Expo (AWE), which is situated near the international airport.

Trade show business in Hong Kong still remains strong given Hong Kong’s historic presence as a gateway to Asia and provider of world class services. Although the total number of Mainland Chinese attending trade shows has declined for the time being, exhibitor quality and numbers are still strong.

ILM: What measures are you taking to ensure a smooth running of the next edition?
PA: APLF will benefit greatly from the accumulated experience gathered by Informa Markets (managers of APLF’s fairs) in the past few months when holding other leading trade shows like the Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong, the largest Jewellery show in the world, and Cosmoprof Asia. They were held successfully in both the HKCEC and in the AWE. The following measures were implemented to ensure the safety and facilitate the transportation of exhibitors and buyers: coaches from the airport and from key manufacturing centres in Guangdong province, shuttle buses between main hotels in Hong Kong & Kowloon and the exhibition venues; increased security around and inside the venues.

The APLF team has been monitoring the developments in Hong Kong closely and working meticulously with our partners: venue management, contractors, hotels, security and services providers in order to create additional measures and plans to enable a seamless trade experience. For example, we are in the process of appointing more partner hotels to provide our attendees with preferential rates as well as organising free coaches and shuttle services. Also, to reassure our customers from Mainland China, who are the most concerned about the situation in Hong Kong, we have enhanced our programme of roadshow presentations in China so as to meet our customers face-to-face and answer all the questions they may have.

ILM: Are you expecting the same level of exhibitors and visitor numbers?
PA: Actually, the level of space sold at APLF Leather so far is already well over same time last year. All group pavilions have confirmed their participation and a number of new exhibitors have also decided to participate or return to the fair this year. At five months from the fair, it is far too early to predict the number of buyers that will attend, but we have of course already started promoting the fair and contacting new buyers we wish to invite. In view of the situation in Hong Kong we have been, for instance, increasing the spend dedicated to our hosted buyers programme and we will coordinate closely with our exhibitors to ensure their key buyers will attend the fairs. Exhibitors will be given the opportunity to nominate the buyers they wish to invite and benefit from the travel incentives provided.

ILM: The next edition of APLF will see a new structure and layout. What will this entail and why are you making these changes?
PA: The main reason for moving APLF Leather from Level 1 of the HKCEC to Level 3 is that the leather fair had outgrown the space available on Level 1. The move to Level 3 enabled us to accommodate more exhibitors and larger stands required by some of them. Moving to Level 3 allowed us to create a more accurate and efficient product segmentation across the two adjacent halls so that buyers can easily locate the exhibitors they have targeted. A wider expanse of the concourse between the two leather halls on Level 3 also allows that conferences, seminars, displays and workshops can take place nearer the actual exhibition halls, thus integrating and bringing the trade fair and fringe events closer together.
In addition to wider aisles inside the hall, the unified stand system and stand height limited to 2.5m will create more visibility and facilitate the buyers’ visit. To ensure buyers find their way easily, there will be clear signage from the Exhibition Drive Entrance and the Harbour Road Entrance where the visitor registration desks are located. These will guide visitors up the escalators to Level 3, where more signage will indicate the two leather halls on Level 3. Giant signs hung inside Hall 3E will direct buyers to Hall 3FG. In addition, giant banners will be hung outside each leather hall on Level 3, indicating countries represented by pavilions. There will also be giant banners hung on Concourse 1E and on Concourse 3E to direct visitors accordingly.

ILM: What are the latest developments with regard to Fashion Access and Materials+?
PA: All APLF fairs are now positioned as the Sustainable Sourcing Platform in the Asia Pacific region. Expanding on the concept launched last March, the core set up in the centre of Materials+ will display sustainable products from exhibitors in all fairs and meetings will be arranged with interested buyers.
Following discussions with key tanners and trade associations representatives during the last APLF fair, it was decided to dissociate even further Materials+ from APLF Leather. Not only is Materials+ located in a separate hall and different level than APLF Leather, but it has now its own image and identity rather than being a segment of APLF, which is solely dedicated to the leather supply chain.

Additional buyers’ lounges will be arranged in both Fashion Access and Cashmere World to provide buyers with educational information on the Alpaca and Cashmere fibres production and interested exhibitors will be given the chance to promote their companies through fashion presentations during the fair.

Sustainable World, a new sector dedicated to sustainable fashion and lifestyle, will be launched at Fashion Access next March. The Sustainable Fashion Conference will take place again on the morning of the second day of the fair while the well-established annual Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Conference will be held in the afternoon of April 1.

The format of both Fashion Access and Cashmere World has been expanded to include Pop-Up events organised before the fair, with the aim of introducing exhibiting brands to key markets in Asia. For fashion exhibitors the focus this year is on South East Asia with Pop-Up stores organised in department stores and concept stores in Singapore and Bangkok as well as during the Bali Fashion Week. Selected brands from Inner Mongolia exhibiting at Cashmere World had the opportunity to sell their collection in the prestigious number 1 Lotte Department Store in Seoul earlier this month and learn more about how to adapt their products to the sophisticated Korean consumer.

ILM: Is anything else noteworthy?
PA: Following on the success of its first edition last March, the Global Footwear Executive Summit will take place again on the day before the fair, March 30. It will attract key brands, manufacturers and service providers in the global footwear supply chain. Finally, the group of APLF trade events will take place again in their traditional slot at the very end of March, from the March 31 to April 2, 2020. Attendees are encouraged to mark their calendar and book their trip now.

Perrine Ardouin

Perrine Ardouin