Skin Two has announced its new venue for the 2007 Skin Two Expo, following the split with previous organisers Cathy and Paul Norris of Green Shed Events (see News, March 22).
The Rubber Ball promoter has reserved space at East London’s big purpose-built exhibition venue Excel, where shows such as the British International Motor Show and the London book Fair have been held.
The Skin Two fair will be held on Friday and Saturday October 5 and 6, on the same days as Green Shed’s revamped Xpo at the Barbican. The date of the Rubber Ball itself has now also been confirmed as Saturday October 6, and the dates for the whole weekend (Oct 5-7) indicate that it is reverting to its traditional three-day format, although no other programme details were available at press time.
The split between Skin Two’s Tim Woodward and his erstwhile expo partners, with both sides declaring that they would be running the ‘real’ show in October, surprised many and dismayed some in the fetish industry who felt that no good could come of two rival fairs battling it out for dominance in a market which has been suffering like many others from a downturn in business.
Green Shed are widely perceived in the industry as the people who made the Barbican event successful for Skin Two during their tenure. Less well known is that Green Shed also became the expo’s majority investor, called upon to finance a progressively larger share until eventually underwriting the entire show.
‘Woodward’s assurances after the split that the Skin Two Expo would continue without its old organisers created a dilemma for firms over which horse to back’
This put Tim Woodward in the position, effectively, of owning the flag that flew over the event but not the event itself. And, say Green Shed, it was Woodward who walked away from the relationship this year because he was unable, as the show’s media sponsor, to give the publishing guarantees needed of him.
However, Woodward’s assurances to the industry on the day after the split that the Skin Two Expo would continue as usual (but without its old organisers) created a dilemma for businesses over which horse to back. Should they go with the big fetish brand that had lost its expo experts and its established venue, or with the people who had the venue and the reputation but had lost their big brand sponsor?
One well known industry figure was so concerned about being put in this position that he sought industry support for an open e-mail he proposed sending to the two rivals, asking them to patch up their differences and once again collaborate on a single London fair. Others, however, have been looking for a clear winner to emerge from the debacle, rather than a revival of the old alliance.
Skin Two’s announcement of its deal with Excel seems to have put paid to any hopes of reconciliation. The famous brand is clearly gambling that its bigger and more modern venue will draw interest away from the Barbican event. But there are legitimate concerns over how a location so far from central London (it’s about 13km from the West End) will suit the work and play demands of this busy fetish weekend.
As one expo veteran commented, “The party-expo balance can be hard enough to achieve when all the weekend’s venues are quite close, so adding a relatively distant expo venue to the mix is hardly going to make life easier.”
On the upside, Excel does cater well for the professional exhibition world, with six hotels and numerous restaurants on site, and good connections to London’s public transport network courtesy of the Jubilee Line and DLR.