GHA Feb 2011 aerialI am happy to report that the first trade fair of the year showed optimism in retailers that has not been seen in the past 2 years.

The GHA, Gift & Homeware Association, Home & Giving Fair was held at The Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park,  on 19 – 22nd February 2011.

It is no secret that I believe that the retail industry is:

  • in desperate need of support by government
  • needs to act as one unit to gain awareness and support from its customers
  • needs to be more informed about customer behaviour and the art of retail
  • way behind in terms of adoption of technology
  • needs to realign their thinking and realise that they are more than ‘shop keepers’

This industry is being shaken up like never before, from inside and out.  Consumers are savvier, suppliers are not adopting new business practices and a majority of independent retailers are simply not re-skilling themselves.  In fact the whole retail model has changed and most independent retailers and their supply chain seem to be slow in catching up.

tcd DESIGN @ GHAAfter the trade show last week however, I had hope for our retail industry!!
Retailers were buying bigger and better from fewer suppliers.  This tells me they are getting cannier than they were before, they are not simply resting on past behviour.

Suppliers who had good practices had a great trade fair and were busy throughout the fair.

I had the opportunity to work on a client’s stand, Contents: party, christmas & home.  They got very busy and needed help.  This is a business that has re-invigorated their products and embraced 2011 and the results were there for all to see.

For the retailers who came to the fair, it was great to see you and congratualtions for being smart enough to attend this event and support your industry.  For the retailers who didn’t make it, it was your loss.  I am constantly disappointed that people don’t make it to the trade fair in their own home town.  The investment of time and money by exhibitors is considerable.  I still hear people saying, “I’ll place and order when you come to my store”, or “just bring everything and show me in my store”???!!!  IT IS RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU – it doesn’t get better than this!!

The other conversation that amuses me is about ‘exclusivity’ – GET OVER IT!! Don’t expect exclusivity if you buy 3 pieces from a range of 100 ONCE a year.  Don’t demand exclusivity for your suburb unless you buy a considerable amount of stock OFTEN.  Be realistic, maybe your street or your block is the best you can get, based on your buying? Retailers you are no longer the only way of getting product to the market.  Use your past experience and the trade fairs to  build strong solid relationships with suppliers who understand the world you trade in.

Trade Fairs are a great opportunity to see and feel product ranges in their entirety.  The ideas and suggestions suppliers are able to share at the fair are better than any website or flyer.

I wrote a post on “Buying Know How for a Retail Store” to help guide retailers in good buying practices. I also wrote a great little shopping list for different types of stores that goes with the post.  To receive  a copy of the Shopping List and my Mini Trend Report, just sign up to my newsletter on the right and you will be sent a link.

I wanted to give you a wash-up of my observations, although I didn’t have as much time as I normally do because I was busy on the Contents stand!!  There were so many more great things to show you that I just couldn’t get to, so you’ll just have to come in July in Sydney and August in Melbourne to see for yourself.

I recorded 4 interviews and have posted them to You Tube.   Please visit My Channel here or click on the links below to see a particular video:

Click here to see all fair pictures.
Click here to see product pictures.

David Leek, GHA CEO



Congratulations to David Leek, the new CEO of the GHA, on his appointment announced on Monday at the fair.  I had the opportunity to meet him on the Madras Link stand as he was getting out and about and meeting everyone.


As I mentioned, Contents: party, christmas, home are clients.  This was the first trade fair since we started working together and it was a great success – one of their best.  This is pleasing in itself but even more so when you realise that this is a strong family business that has been around and exhibiting for over 25 years!

Contents released new ranges, including the striking Red Polka Party range put together by Kate, seen below with her father Peter, mother Ellen & sister, Rebecca.  Brother Mark built the new stand which was very well received and displayed all the products beautifully.  I interviewed Kate Clarkson, on her stand.

Contents owners @ GHAContents new Polka Party range @GHA







Christmas has always been a strong range for Contents and they had something for every style of Christmas.

Contents Christmas 2011Contents Christmas 2011Contents Christmas 2011







The new homeware collections were beautifully displayed.  Retailers commented that it would be easy to replicate the look in their store and bought accordingly.

Contents Christmas 2011Contents Christmas 2011





Contents Christmas 2011contents











David Pursley is the owner of the high quality Waterlyn cards, wrap and gift, as well as the GHA President.  I have always loved the Waterlyn range because it is so well assembled.  Greeting cards is a very competitive market.  Waterlyn’s collections are interesting in terms of design and materials as well as right on trend.  David sources the best the world has to offer.  It is important to work with suppliers who know how to buy so that it makes it easy to intergrate on a store level.  Their new wrapping paper printed with city world maps was great – especially the Sydney Map!  I loved these accessory illustrations, below, as well.  I interviewed David, on his stand.

Waterlyn Cards @ GHAWaterlyn owner David Pursley








I mentioned Madras Link, another long time exhibitor, earlier.  Owner Patricia is also on the GHA board, seen here with David Leek, new GHA CEO.  The collections are very good quality and presented on the stand in attractive displays that can be easily integrated in store and in the home.  Retailers can source a great assortment of product from one good supplier.  This will become more and more important as time progresses.  At the end of the fair I wanted to curl up on one of their gorgeous beds….

David Leek & Patricia Guest, owner of Madras LinkMadras Link @ GHA







I released my Mini Trend Report just before trade fair and as I passed new exhibitor The Essential Detail, I stopped in my tracks!!  This stand had everything that was in my trend report!!  Designer Sarah has a keen eye and attention to detail.  Truly a gorgeous collection of products that would have been missed had I not been at the fair.

The Essential Detail @ GHA


This is a range I call “Retail Ready”, retailers don’t have to do anything more than simply place this gorgeous product on the shelf and it has immediate shelf-appeal.  The products are all great quality and this is a product that can sit in every type of store, from fashion to homewares.  I interviewed National Sales Manager, Paul, on his stand.


Lara Hall @ GHA

Lara Hall’s jewellery is always gorgeous and this collection did not disappoint.  Again this is a range that tells a whole story and is of great quality. I also like that Lara invests in her customers; she supplies the branded busts for instore display.  It took me a few visits to finally get to speak to Lara, her stand was constantly busy.   I didn’t get a chance to photograph her new range of silver jewellery which was like spun silver – yum!!


J Style @ GHA


I loved J Style’s products, from Japan, they are exquisite, in material and design.  This stand could be a store on its own!  Everything from hair accessories, cups, gorgeous stationery packs & more.  Again a great range for every type of store from fashion to homeware. Owner Jennifer is modelling her own hair clips.


Gadget KingGadgetking always has something new on his stand and this release was even more interesting as it incorporated new technology and consumer behaviour.  These toys utilise the iPhone as the view finder / control panel!  This is new technology called augmented reality that puts the user into the game.  I loved it and I think this will appeal to the market on so many levels!

McPherson Product's Demonstrations


Kitchenware has never been hotter! Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules, Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone have all piqued the consumer’s interest in cooking.  The McPherson Consumer Products stand includes a knowledgeable chef demonstrating how great the products are.  I filmed the demonstration of the garlic peeler, the garlic crusher and the fruit slicer, click here to view.


Joel @ Swish @ GHA


Swish Collections always go all out for Christmas! Owner Joel Faber is also a GHA Board Member.  Joel showed me the gorgeous Kaleidoscope Tree as well as a divine motorised ferris wheel that is not just perfect for home but is eye-catching instore and should be incorporated in store window displays for Christmas.

Joel was particularly proud of the new collection of Bon Bons released at the fair.



The Pudding Lady @ GHA

Newcastle’s Pudding Lady is always a favourite for me at the fair.  I think that food is an important part that is often overlooked by every type of retail store (excluding food of course).  In My Shopping List I include food across most categories.

What excited me more this fair was that they have thought about an even better store offer and have developed these great merchandise units with an opening assortment that would work in every store.

For retailers new to food, this is ideal!


Rovan @ GHA


The Rovan stand stopped me in my tracks!  The lacquer products are striking and unique. I think a product that makes you want to touch it at first glance does its job and these certainly fell into this category.  Owner Rolf designs each piece and works closely with his manufacturer to ensure each piece is of the same high standard.


GHA Member Solutions & NancyThe GHA are more than just a trade fair company. They are our Association and offer many services to GHA Members to save them money every day in their businesses.  Independent retailers don’t have a lot of influence or power when it comes to negotiating rates or prices.  The GHA negotiates as a group and therefore members benefit as a group of over 3000 members.  Savings in everything from merchant rates, freight, insurance, telecommunications, business solutions, foreign exchange, travel, accommodation etc are available.  The Member Solutions Team are always on hand at the fairs as well as at the end of the phone.  Members receive the great Giftrap magazine which is the only comprehensive up to date trade magazine for retailers in Australia.

The list of benefits is constantly growing inline with the needs of the Industry.

The release of the Supplier Haven B2B website is one of the offers that the GHA are developing themselves to meet the needs of members.

Tatiana and Brooke (below left) were on the stand throughout the fair and were joined by the GHA Business Partners, like Angela and Gina from Ausbrokers.

GHA Member Solutions & NancyNancy Georges' Retail Seminars @ Oasis







I am a GHA Business Partner and am at the fairs to answer questions, document the fair as well as hold Introductory Seminars to help Retailers.

I was lucky enough to be in the Oasis Lounge this fair which is another benefit for GHA Members.

The Oasis Lounge is a great space to sit down, regroup, have something to eat and drink or have a meeting.  I caught up with a frmer Paper Magnolia customer Lee from Byster in the Lounge (below left).

If you are not a GHA Member I strongly suggest you consider it.  More infomration online.

The Oasis Lounge Feb 2011Customer Enjoying The Oasis Lounge






I hope this gave you an overview of the fair and I look forward to seeing you in Sydney in July!

1 Comment

  1. March 4, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Great wrap up Nancy. You certainly were very busy as too was I. Sorry we didn't get more time to catch up and discuss my new products and initiatives to assist retailers. I had a fantastic fair - I approached with caution but was presently surprised. I love your enthusiasm for our industry. I look forward to working with you in the future. Lara :)

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