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RDE combines with RDSE and RBTE to become RetailEXPO

Retail Design Expo is to unite with Retail Business Technology Expo and Retail Digital Signage Expo as a single event – called RetailEXPO – in 2019. The show is expected to bring over 15,000 retailers, brands, designers and suppliers together.

The changes are the result of extensive research among more than 150 retailers, and event exhibitors, and are designed to mirror the transformation being seen in the retail sector. Among the brands that took part in the research were Amazon, Primark, John Lewis & Partners, FatFace and Starbucks, along with independent retailers and direct-to-consumer brands.

The study revealed a greater need for collaboration between retail teams, with designers working more closely with technology, marketing and property functions to deliver enhanced customer experiences. It also reflected that companies that were previously pure-play online retailers, such as Amazon and Missguided, are moving into bricks and mortar stores to drive further growth.

The three shows were already co-located, but will now be brought closer together to reflect the closer collaboration required of retail teams. The design zone of RetailEXPO will move into a new hall at the front of the event venue, Olympia, to accommodate the growing number of visitors and exhibitors. Dates for the event will remain the same, on 1-2 May 2019. The design zone will be laid out to replicate a retail environment, and be divided into four spaces to showcase store design; P-O-P, marketing and VM; shopfitting and store fixtures, and lighting.

Nicole Mills, senior event director at RetailEXPO parent company Reed Exhibitions, says: “There is a seismic shift going on in UK retail - every day we read about store closures, yet at the same time UK retail sales are actually increasing by 1.9% year-on-year.  As the UK’s leading retail event, we had to react, which prompted us to undertake significant research amongst the UK’s most senior retailers – and they all told us the same story.  Survival means addressing customer needs holistically, which requires traditionally siloed departments, including design, IT, property and marketing, working together in a unified fashion. This shift recognises that whilst design is still bought by retail design teams, other departments are now deeply involved in the process.”

The relaunched event will feature a new zone dedicated to start-up and scale-up design and technology brands, an enhanced layout to improve the visitor experience, and other new formats to be announced soon. A single conference stream will tackle the big issues facing the sector, with sessions from leading retailers, industry bodies, and influencers from across the design and technology industries.

“The role of the store in modern omnichannel retail is being reimagined – it’s no longer enough for shops to provide a transactional space where products are simply displayed and paid for.  The survival of the High Street relies on bricks-and-mortar delivering engaging, experience-led environments where shoppers can explore, be inspired and immerse themselves in a brand’s identity – and collaboration between in-store design and digital tech teams will be key to realising this,” says RetailEXPO show director Matt Bradley.

“The consolidation of all three retail shows into the RetailEXPO not only mirrors the changing dynamics of the industry and how retailers are looking to enhance customer experience, but it also allows us to deliver more innovation and inspiration to our show audiences than ever before.”

The move has met with industry support. SDEA (Shop and Display Equipment Association director Antony Behiels says: “The UK has needed an all-encompassing retail event for decades.  By creating RetailEXPO, Reed has rightly put London in the forefront of Europe for everyone involved in the retail experience.  With today’s ever-changing marketplace and job roles, it is logical to have one event that covers the complete retail environment.”

Ian Johnston, founder of design group Quinine, adds: “With the fundamental shifts in retail, it makes complete sense that RDE, RBTE and RDSE have been brought together under the RetailEXPO banner.  Retailers can no longer consider different elements of their business in isolation and the new show format will create a great forum where we can all learn from each other.”