MELBOURNE, Australia (BRAIN)—Despite wild weather on Sunday morning that threatened the show, the inaugural Ausbike Expo exceeded organizers’ expectations.
Windspeeds reached speeds in excess of 60 mph and while the exhibition pavilion at the Melbourne Showgrounds was rock steady, concerns were held for the safety of the exhibitors and show attendees.
Ausbike's Morven Grant, the show's sales and coordinating manager, said she and a security guard watched the neighboring pavilion's roof peel back and wondered what would happen next.
"The worry was that if the weather had continued at the same intensity, showgrounds management would have cancelled our show as well,” Grant said. “Fortunately as the dawn came up, the winds abated slightly and we went ahead. As a new show, if we'd been forced to cancel it would have killed us stone-dead.
As it was, early morning flights into Melbourne were cancelled so some retailers and show visitors arrived by late morning instead of as the show opened.
Nonetheless, with around 1,500 retailes pre-registered for the two-day show, organizers were delighted with the turnout. Of the retailers who attended, around 40 percent came from Australia and New Zealand.
Show director Simon Head said bookings have already been taken from most of the exhibitors for next year's show, some with requests for additional space, a dozen new exhibitors have already signed up for 2010 and international interest is keen.
“Ausbike has had communications from major industry groups in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, United States and South Africa that they will be either bring groups or manufacturers to Ausbike 2010,” Head said. "The industry was a bit suspicious at first, but when it dawned there definitely was a show and it was going ahead, then the industry started to move."
But a lot of talk at the show was about the larger industry companies who hadn't supported the inaugural show, with one or two holding road shows in the vicinity of Ausbike.
Exhibitors said it showed poor industry support from the absent distributors, who were happy to sell products to the retailers but weren't happy to try and ensure the industry had a show vehicle it could really support to the benefit of the whole industry.
One or two wholesalers who came to the show for a look and have booked for next year, said the show's proximity to Eurobike and Interbike made it practically impossible to get 2010 product to show at Ausbike but they would ensure they had the new 2011 season product for the 2010 Ausbike.
While the Retail Cycle Traders Association and the Cycling Promotion Fund both ran booths at the show, the Bicycle Industry Association, which represents the wholesale side of the industry, didn't and had no official presence in Melbourne.
—David Priestley, www.comecyclingwithme.com
PHOTO: Hilton McMurdo of Glen Parker Cycles in Perth talks with Kestrel's Australian distributor Oceania Bicycles' John Bishop.