DM Shows Open at New London Venue

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LONDON -- The London International Direct Marketing Fair and three new trade shows opened yesterday in the ExCel conference center, part of the revitalized East End dock area of the British capital.


A billboard near the entrance called the center Europe's "top venue" and asked visitors to "tell us what you think" about the glass and steel structure.


The initial impression yesterday was one of total chaos, as befits a trade show opening at a new venue for the first time. The show continues through Thursday.


"It is a bit chaotic," said a woman from Reed Conference Co., the organizer of the show, "but if you go through to the left you'll have a lovely view of the Thames."


The change of venue was decided last year, in part because the Wembley soccer stadium was undergoing major renovation. The show had been held at the adjacent Wembley conference and exhibition center since the 1980s.


The Wembley center was not everyone's favorite site, but it remains to be seen how popular the new venue will be, if for no other reason than that it is much further from central London -- as long as an hour, compared with 20 minutes from Baker Street to Wembley.


Still, the new site is an estimated 20 percent larger than last year's venue. A quick survey of this year's exhibitors showed more foreign stands than ever before, cementing London's claim as the most international DM show in Europe, if not the world.


Among those exhibiting are perennials such as Experian, Dun & Bradstreet and Pitney Bowes, which has a huge stand with room to display a cross-section of its newest machinery, as well as old hands like Schober and Wegener, German and Dutch Pan-European list companies.


Newcomers included the city of Lille in France, which is moving rapidly to make itself a Pan-European direct marketing center; and ETO, a French agency in nearby Roubaix, which is trying to attract more international clients.


Other companies with stands include USAData/Acxiom; MLA, a Hong Kong and Philippines-based international list company; Koop, a German list broker; and EDM, a rapidly growing Dutch firm.


Two competing U.S. DM trade missions were in London at the same time as a sideshow to the exhibit. The U.S. Direct Marketing Association brought one of the trade missions, which was greeted Sunday night during a sit-down dinner at the U.S. embassy on Grosvener Square.


Bill McNutt, who has been organizing such trade missions for more than a decade, hosted the other mission and had a dinner scheduled for last night hosted by British Telecom.


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