DEW Events, which has been organizing two of the UK’s main footwear exhibitions, has been acquired by ITE Group, an international group that runs numerous British fashion exhibitions including Moda UK, Moda Menswear, Moda Accessories. It publishes the WWB, MWB, Fashion Extras and CWB trade magazines and organizes a number of other fairs, particularly in the emerging markets.

As a result of this acquisition, Footwear UK, the successful show in Birmingham, will now be called Moda Footwear. It will run as a combined show with Moda UK, Moda Menswear and Moda Accessories, making it the largest fashion trade show in the UK. For the last three years, all these events ran parallel to each other and without any barriers between them, sharing the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham in February and August.

In 2006, the newly combined Moda events will take place on Feb. 19-21 and Aug. 6-8. They will take up four halls of the NEC, filling 18,000 square meters of space. The younger London Footwear fair, also belonging to Dew Events, is included in the acquisition. Unlike Footwear UK, it runs in October and April at the Olympia exhibition center in London.

Last August’s Footwear UK show grew by about 15 percent in size as compared to the same month the year before, featuring brands from more than 20 different countries. Instead, the London Footwear show held earlier this month had flat growth when compared to last April, when it increased in size. David Wilkins, who will continue to run the two footwear shows, indicated that attendance was steady - a good sign considering the dormant trading climate.

Footwear London displayed large, global vendors like Jacobson Group next to small and upcoming regional companies like Aspiga, a company that sells shoes and accessories that are hand-made in Africa. Aspiga’s bead and stone-studded products have attracted enough business to have 70-80 percent of their stock reordered by the stores it supplies in the UK, Ireland and the English Channel islands. The company was launched last January in about 30 boutiques, and has since upped the number to about 40.

At almost the same time, the Kensington Shoe Event was taking place a few kilometers up the street. Unlike Footwear London, the 5-year-old event remains primarily focused on high-end women’s fashion footwear. The show had 25 exhibitors displaying 65 European brands. Renato DeAngelis, the show’s director, estimated attendance at about 320 visitors, slightly less than in previous years, but he said that the quality of orders made up for the decrease. Some exhibitors said that they thought the show was a little quiet, pointing out that the show was following a very poor summer for the UK’s footwear business.

Neither show benefited from the absence this time of Eye2Eye from the London scene. The sales agents who have been organizing the new high-end and avant-garde shoe and leathergoods fair for the past few years decided that no show was better than an incomplete one for the previously planned September 2005 edition. The organizers said that too few international visitors were planning to attend, citing poor business conditions and security concerns. Other sources have hinted at the show having poor timing and shifting its schedule around too often. The show has prided itself with having an abundance of international guests, attracted by the London Fashion Week. Eye2eye is planning to return next February with a «bigger and even better show.» It is considering a new location, perhaps Berkeley Square.