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In recent years the number of stands rose to more than 400 and this June it stood at around 390. But from June 9 to 19, 2005 no more than 330 dealers are expected and they will be concentrated into the Grand Hall. The National Hall will no longer be incorporated into the fair.

There has been widespread alarm at the growing size of the fair and the organisers took the decision to cut back after much research and consultation with exhibitors and visitors during and after the 2004 event.

However, the spacious layout and stylish presentation, including the dramatic purpose-built stands which have become a signature feature of Summer Olympia, will continue.

Exhibitors have already backed the change at the fair’s Advisory Board meeting. Dan Gorton, fair director, said: “There is a ‘natural size’ for any event and concentrating Summer Olympia into the Grand Hall will enable dealers to showcase their stock to best effect and allow visitors to buy in comfort.”

Although initially Clarion are bound to lose revenue by reducing stand numbers, Mr Gorton said there would be no change in stand rents for June 2005. “We know this is a difficult time and we will keep prices to a minimum in the next few years,” he said. But he could not guarantee that there would be no rises after next year.

Clarion Events are negotiating a management buy-out from the current owners, Earls Court and Olympia Group Ltd, and this could be completed as early as the end of this month. Simon Kimble, Clarion’s managing director, said the summer fair is a key event in their portfolio and the new move will ensure its long-term future.

At the same time as the fair changes were unveiled, Dan Gorton himself announced that he would be changing roles within the company. A new antiques fairs director is being sought to replace him. Mr Gorton feels the job is more suitable for a candidate with an in-depth knowledge of the antiques world. He told the Antiques Trade Gazette that there would be a thorough search for the right candidate, but he did not know if they would be in place by next June.

Another June change affects the Hali carpet, textiles and tribal art fair, which is jointly owned by Hali magazine and Clarion. It will move from the gallery to the ground floor of the National Hall and continue to be directly linked with the antiques fair.

In its seven years Hali has built up a strong following but many in the field, especially among the exhibitors, would like to see the fair further developed, with the emphasis on a more uniform quality of stock.