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Big auto industry trade show cranking up

Ready to go: The AAAA Expo will be held at Melbourne's Exhibition Centre from Thursday April 16 to Saturday April 18 next year.

AAAA Expo almost sold out seven months before the show

5 Sep 2014

AUSTRALIA'S biggest car industry show has shrugged off a weakened economy and chalked up some strong sales months before the curtain will rise.

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) Expo will return to Melbourne in April 2015 and will occupy almost all of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre for three days between Thursday April 16 and Saturday April 18.

Speaking at the show's media launch in Melbourne this week, AAAA executive director Stuart Charity said there had been strong interest in the event so far.

“With seven months before the doors open, more than 80 per cent of the available floor space has been sold,” he said. “It’s an amazing achievement.”

Mr Charity said the strong sales were a good news story for the automotive sector which faces massive challenges when the three remaining local car-makers – Ford, Holden and Toyota – shut their production facilities by 2017.

“There has been enough negative news about the industry. We want to let people know the industry is alive and well.”

The AAAA membership extends from retail outlets selling parts and servicing vehicles right through to manufacturers of parts and consumable products used in the maintenance sector.

The exhibitors pay for their floor space, but entry to the Expo is free for AAAA members and accredited workers and employees in the automotive trades.

The Expo will again be held in conjunction with the Collision Repair Expo, which has done even better than the AAAA Expo, having sold 90 per cent of its floor space.

80 center image Left: AAAA executive director Stuart Charity Brown and Watson marketing manager George Davies

Mr Charity said the expo had also received strong support from companies wanting to sponsor various events and sessions during the event, with 30 of the 32 opportunities having already been subscribed.

Mr Charity said that the AAAA had once again limited the floor space available to offshore exhibitors, both to maintain the quality of the exhibits and to ensue there was sufficient space available to local exhibitors.

Overseas exhibitors will occupy 10 per cent of the floor space and companies from the United States, China, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea will attend.

Mr Charity said the AAAA had been benchmarking trade shows around the world for the last two years to find out why people attend trade shows.

First, the survey showed people attend shows to see the latest products.

“Yes, there are thousands of companies out there, all with products and sales forces, trying to sell products.

“But everybody’s time-poor. Workshops don’t have time to be seeing 40 or 50 different reps across all product areas comparing and contrasting.

“So, if you get all the brands in one place, under one roof, the trade will come. It’s effective use of their time.”

The second reason people attend trade shows, according to Mr Charity is education and training.

“You can’t just have a static show these days, as exciting as that is.

“Everything is changing very rapidly in this world and we need to make sure people who come to our Expo get the latest information on what’s going on to keep their business ahead of their competitors.”

The third reason is networking and Mr Charity said that, while there are many new ways to communicate these days, business is done with people.

“Wherever you are in the supply chain, you are dealing with the people, and our industry loves to network,” he said.

“This Expo provides an opportunity for our industry to come together and network. That’s why the associations run their own events, and we run a whole lot of events at the Expo.”

Mr Charity said he was expecting a strong turnout for the Melbourne show, with crowds anticipated to be around the 130,000 level seen at the previous Melbourne show.

The Expo is held every two years and alternates between Sydney and Melbourne.

The last Expo in Sydney attracted 70,000 visitors.

Regular exhibitor George Davies, marketing manager of Brown and Watson said the AAAA Expo was the most important show on the agenda for the company, which markets the Narva and Protecta ranges of lights and electrical systems.

Mr Davies said the expo was the right opportunity to launch new products and reinforce the company’s brands in a market now dominated by house brands.

He said the company starts planning its exhibit at least eight months out and always books its exhibition space as soon as the books open.

Brown and Watson spends around $150,000 on its expo effort, an outlay that includes the floor space, the exhibit itself, manning the stand and flying in all the state managers from around Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Charity had no news on who was going to be the keynote speaker at the next expo, and there was still some unease evident today about the last keynote speaker.

In Sydney in 2013, the gala dinner was addressed by the-then opposition leader Tony Abbott, who assured the audience that he wanted the local car industry “not just to survive, but thrive”.

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