Importer Liberty Wines has joined the growing number of companies who have pulled out of the London International Wine Fair (LIWF), criticising the show’s location in the process.
Liberty, which has exhibited at every LIWF since its foundation in 1997, said it would ‘take a break’ this year after ‘much internal debate’ on the issue.
‘We remain committed to the idea of a London Wine Trade Fair that focuses on quality wine and is held in a more central venue,’ the company added.
‘If such an event returns, then we will consider returning. This is the first time in 25 years that a company with which [managing director] David Gleave is associated will not be exhibiting at the Fair.’
Liberty’s wish for a ‘more central venue’ follows criticism from some quarters that the show venue, the ExCeL exhibition centre in Docklands, is too remote from central London and the West End.
The company’s pull-out follows similar moves this year from major wine businesses Bibendum, Mentzendorff and Enotria.
In recent years a number of companies, including PLB, Maisons Marques et Domaines, Pol Roger, Berkmann and a number of generic wine bodies, have also stopped exhibiting.
Show director Ross Carter said he was ‘disappointed’ at Liberty’s decision, adding: ‘We take very seriously the concerns of Liberty and the other exhibitors who have followed suit.’
However, Carter highlighted a number of companies who were still exhibiting at the show, including Hatch Mansfield, Fells, Les Grands Chais de France and Treasury Wine Estates and ‘hundreds’ of smaller producers.
He said organisers were ‘confident’ that 10,000-plus trade buyers and influencers would attend and added: ‘We’re making a significant investment in bringing the right audience to the event and are in the process of confirming travel bursaries, Oyster card incentives, voucher giveaways and accommodation subsidies to help drive this.’
Written by Richard Woodard