Pets and Aquatics Trade Show 2011 - All about pets

Everything animal related is well covered by this year's enlarged Pets & Aquatics Trade Show, Matthew Appleby finds.

The Pets and Aquatics Trade Show (PATS) returns in 2011 at Sandown Park and Harrogate with the promise to be bigger than last year's outings. Show director Gordon Thomas says 90 per cent of previous exhibitors, such as Royal Canin, rebooked for 2011 within two months. About 100 companies will exhibit and there will be one new hall at each venue for the third annual show.

Some 1,586 people visited Harrogate in 2010, a rise of 17 per cent on 2009; the number of garden centres rose 72 per cent, with 115 turning up last year.

Sandown attracted 1,253 people, a rise of 31 per cent; the number of garden centres rose 82 per cent.

Thomas says: "Garden centres are a big target audience for us, which is why we sponsored the Garden Retail Awards. Garden centres traditionally went to other shows, so it's important that our exhibitors don't have to go elsewhere."

On changes in the industry, he adds: "The shift in what garden centres are looking for is reflected in brands like Spike's chicken-food range. We have a lot of traditional brands, too. There is also a drive within the show for environmentally friendly packaging."

Garden centres continue to seek products offering year-round sales opportunities, and the diversity of both product ranges and seasonality within the pet supplies market hits the spot perfectly. There is a basic, year-round need to feed and shelter our pets. Combine this with the market's increased emphasis on pet nurture and premium diets, the focus on pet treats, seasonal gift opportunities and caring for wildlife, and the profit potential is huge.

As the UK's leading pet trade show, PATS offers garden centre retailers the biggest and most comprehensive gathering of pet product suppliers. And because retailers visit shows to discover what's new, there is The Retailers' Choice Products of the Year showcase to spotlight the latest ideas from established national and international brands and new companies alike.

The organisers recognise the benefit to time-pressed buyers of locations that are easily accessible, so PATS is a dual-venue show. South-based retailers can choose to visit Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey on 22-23 March, while their northern counterparts are best served by Harrogate, Yorkshire on 5-6 April.

New exhibitors include Best Pets, Trixie, R&L Pet Products, Alpha Feeds, Ortiga, Sureflap, Dorwest Herbs, Peregrine Livefoods, Hamish Macbeth and TopLife Formula. Among 2011's returning exhibitors are Collarways, Outhwaites Pet Range and Connolly's Red Mills.

The show's attractions include:

- PATS Activity Point, designed to enable exhibitors to demonstrate products in action.

- PATS Grooming Point, featuring demonstrations by international award-winner Groom Team England. This year, the demonstrations will be enhanced by a products showcase.

- PATS Discovery Point will once again appear at both venues, featuring exhibitors showing specialist or limited-edition ranges and niche products. Exhibitors will include Taggit Prestigious Engravers, Harlings, Xtra Dog, Wicked or What, BBD, Dicky Bag, Prestige Pet Products, Simon's Rodents and Wilkinsons Pet Bedding.

- For further details, see


Roger Tong and Clare Ball, managers of the pet and aquatics department at Crafty Garden Centre, Maidstone:

"It's great that the Retailers' Choice display is just inside the entrance. We've arrived, looked at the display, picked up our handbook summary of the products and are enjoying our free, welcome cup of coffee before going to talk to the exhibitors.

"Each retailer will be judging the products on their own criteria according to demand in each area for each pet store - so there will be a good cross-section of businesses that will judge the potential success of the entered products and, ultimately, who should win the PATS Product of the Year Awards.

"PATS Activity Point has been designed to enable exhibitors to demonstrate products in action. The feature will highlight products such as training collars, the uniqueness of which can best be appreciated via a working demonstrations. Retailers will be able to watch the products in action and discuss them with their suppliers before they buy."

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