Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

It is a bold move that will substantially change the pattern of business for many organisers and dealers, but the organisers believe it will benefit both buyers and sellers.

“A level playing field for all,” is how Jason Franks, managing director of dmg Antiques Fairs, described the change to his flagship event. “Changing the days and extending the opening is undoubtedly a big step to take. However… the decision to move days came, in part, in response to comments made by stallholders and buyers who were requesting positive change to improve their Newark fair experience.”

Renowned for its extraordinary size and the sheer volume of goods on offer, the fair, held six times a year at the Newark and Nottingham Showground, has been a Monday-Tuesday fixture for more than a decade. However, the limitations of a weekday event have opened the fair up to outside competition and restricted the gate to those who can attend during the week.

The organisers explained that there would be no charge to stallholders for the extra day. They also said that Saturday trading would open up the fair to a new audience of weekend shoppers.

DMG are hoping that by changing days they will be able to overcome difficulties presented by the Monday-Tuesday format. For example, under the new proposals the fair will open on Thursday morning – admitting the marquee exhibitors at 8.30am, outdoor standholders at 9am and those who stand in the buildings at 11.30am – with buyers allowed entry from noon. Previously, problems of illicit Sunday night trading before ticket-paying buyers were onsite were difficult to police.

While the fair will increase from two to three days, the organisers also expect the prospect of Saturday trading on the final day will now encourage standholders to see out the full duration of the fair. Stallholders packing up early on Monday night or Tuesday morning was another source of past antagonism.

In addition to an unprecedented £250,000 marketing campaign that begins with the mailing of 250,000 leaflets between now and the end of December, a raft of promotional offers are available to both standholders and buyers to kick-start the changes in 2005. They are as follows:

Exhibitors who have attended between four and six fairs in 2004 are entitled to a special discounted rate for the first fair of 2005, in February. Those who have stood at all six fairs in 2004 will receive a 25 per cent discount and those at five fairs a 15 per cent discount, while a 10 per cent discount will be awarded to those who stood at four of this year’s fairs.

A three-day fair has also allowed the organisers to introduce a new three-tier admission price – £20 on the Thursday VIP trade day, £10 on the Friday trade day and £5 on the Saturday public day. But in the first four fairs of 2005 there will be major savings for those who register in advance: trade buyers can attend the first day of the February and April fairs free of charge and pay half price (£10) admission in June and August. From February to August, additional discounted entry offers are available to pre-registered buyers who visit the showground on the second trade day (£7.50 instead of £10) and on the Saturday (£3 instead of £5). Enquiries should be directed to 01636 702326.

The trade will now be waiting to see how Swallow Fairs will react to the move. They organise the giant fair at nearby RAF Swinderby, held on the four days preceding the Newark event, an arrangement from which Swallows have long profited. At the time of going to press, they have not published dates for 2005, but were they to keep their Thursday to Sunday afternoon slot at the disused airfield this would now represent a clash of dates.

There are still two Newark fairs to come in 2004 in the current Monday-Tuesday format. They will take place on October 18-19 and December 6-7. The new dates for 2005 are February 3-5, April 7-9, June 9-11, August 4-6, October 13-15, December 1-3.