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Competing optical shows both host successful events

07/09/2018By Matthew Woodley
Two major optical fairs were held within a week of each other in July, providing a smorgasbord of choice and a look at future trends for potential buyers. MATTHEW WOODLEY reviews the industry response and what’s in store for 2019.

Over the space of seven days in July, the ODMA O-SHOW and Expertise Event’s SILMO Sydney competed for the attention of exhibitors and attendees alike.

The O-SHOW, held first at Peninsula in Melbourne, attracted 702 visitors across the two-day event, the vast majority of which were from Victoria (77%). ODMA chairman Mr Rob Sparks said feedback from the 47 exhibitors had been positive and that he was delighted with the look and feel of the event.

“This pop up boutique event is what the independent optical industry asked for and is now a confirmed favourite,” Sparks said.

“This is the kind of show that could easily move to Sydney, Brisbane or other locations if there is a demand.”

One of the exhibitors who enjoyed a positive show was Eyecare Plus, which was celebrating recently topping the Canstar Blue survey on Australian optometry clinics. General manager Mr Simon Lewis told Insight he was delighted to have received five stars across the board and that it showed independent optometry was more than able to compete, despite changes in the market.

“It’s a really great opportunity for independents, because it shows that we shouldn’t just cave in to what’s happening in the corporate sphere – many of our patients enjoy the experience that they get,” Lewis said.

“Looking at some of the data that has been shared by Canstar shows that service is a big thing, along with advice. We’re very excited that our members provide that.”

Lewis said the O-SHOW had been beneficial for the group, especially as it allowed management to engage with people face-to-face.

“The opportunity for us, particularly to come to Melbourne, is good because we have members down here that we don’t always get to see,” he said.

“We’ve had meetings with our members to develop a marketing plan for the financial year going forward, and it’s also good for us to connect with some of our partners in the supply area.”

Aside from the action on the floor, the O-SHOW also served as the location for the announcement of a new collaborative show between ODMA and Optometry Victoria, O=MEGA19.

ODMA CEO Ms Finola Carey said while she was excited about the prospect of next year’s joint venture, it did not represent the end of the even: “O-SHOW is now a sizable, well-organised event and there is room in our market for it to sit alongside our new joint venture O=MEGA,” Carey said.

“As far as we’re concerned, O-SHOW is a ‘pop up’ event. As a brand, it’s something we feel we’ve established firmly now and we’ll roll it out whenever there’s a demand for it. It could pop up anywhere.”

Silmo Sydney

The second SILMO Sydney optical fair continued its focus from last year on frames, equipment and accessories, while also incorporating new elements such as its Practice of the Future.

More than 1,200 visitors from 20 countries attended during the three-day event, while 40% of the 61 exhibitors and 182 brands had not been seen in Australia for 10 years. Visitors from NSW accounted for the majority of attendees (67%), followed by Victoria (19%) and Queensland (9%).

Despite numbers being lower than last year, 65% of attendees made purchases at the fair and a number of exhibitors said they were thrilled with the event, including Nine Eyewear’s Ms Elisa McGrough.

“The results and leads speak for themselves with the stand barely being empty with new clients and enquiries,” McGrough said.

“Our favourite part was that even on the final day a visitor was still on our stand and had to be asked to leave by security.”

AFT Pharmaceuticals

The general manager of the optical fair’s organiser, Mr Gary Fitz-Roy from Expertise Events, said concentrating on the needs of buyers and providing a point of difference for independent optometrists had held SILMO in good stead.

“We’ve tried to listen to what the buyers want, we’ve been considerate of the sellers and we’ve tried to keep to a very clear strategic plan on delivering an event for the industry,” Fitz-Roy said.

“What you need to do is differentiate yourself, particularly with the number of chain stores these days. The difference at SILMO is that it delivered a number of edgy and different products that in some cases weren’t currently in the marketplace, or otherwise gave people an edge.”

Fitz-Roy added that the Practice of the Future had been “thought provoking” and Expertise was already planning similar innovative displays and concepts for 2019.

“I don’t think the Practice of the Future was revolutionary as an executional design – it did cost a bomb and it was clever, but the reality is I think it just got people thinking and one of the big things out of it was shopfitting,” he said.

Fitz-Roy also revealed three features for the 2019 event that he believed would set a clear agenda for the show – a dry eye symposium, frame design competition and a design and fitout centre.

“We have always been on the front foot with a clear plan and running show inclusions that are relevant and timely. The alignment with Optometry Australia and the Practice of the Future are just two examples of leading show developments,” he said.

Other key statistics released by Expertise included; 85% of attendees said they were likely to make purchases from exhibitors after the fair; 97% said it was important to attend to see new trends and products, and; 91% rated connecting with new suppliers as important.

The dates for next year’s SILMO and ODMA shows have already been released, and they will again run in the same month – SILMO Sydney is set to take place at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour from July 5–7, while OMEGA=19 will run two weeks later from July 19–21 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Sneak peak at key features of Silmo Sydney 2019

1. Dry eye symposium

The Sydney show will have a dedicated program around dry eye, which will run in conjunction with the event in recognition of its importance as an increasingly prominent disease.

2. Rising star frame design competition

Students will take part in a competition established in conjunction with Enmore Design School, that will seem them present new frame designs around shape, material and practicality. All entrants will be displayed at the SILMO Sydney event with the winning pieces being showcased in Paris later that year.

3. Design and fitout centre

Building off the great interest in the shopfitting and display options featured at this year’s SILMO Sydney, a dedicated space will be developed to fully showcase future trends in shop fitout.


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